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Safety Planning Clinic for Undocumented Families

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS ) is a non-profit legal aid organization that provides completely free legal services to low income individuals and families in the Chicago area. We are a volunteer-based organization, and thanks to our enormous and dedicated pool of more than 2,300 volunteer attorneys, CVLS is the first and preeminent pro bono civil legal aid provider in Chicago.

In early 2017, news spread that ICE was no longer prioritizing certain cases, and that all undocumented immigrants were suddenly at a much higher risk of deportation. Panic set in among immigrant communities, and non-profits mobilized to help.

Since that time, CVLS has been heavily involved in helping undocumented parents hope for the best but prepare for the worst. CVLS has held dozens of legal clinics in the community, from the far southwest side to the suburbs to the northwest side, to bring this much needed service and information to areas of the city with large immigrant populations. Since early 2017 CVLS has trained more than 200 volunteer attorneys on how to help undocumented parents execute short-term guardianship forms. These are private party documents that allow parents to assign someone they know and trust as the emergency guardian of their children in the event of the parents' detention or deportation by immigration.

Over the past year and a half, CVLS has helped more than 500 families put in place these crucial plans, which grant authority over day-to-day decisions regarding childcare, schooling, medical care and more, and in some situations may prevent children from ending up in state custody or foster care. We continue to receive requests for these community clinics. Because this project is not part of our regular work, the program is unfunded, and CVLS staff are doing this work after hours and in addition to their regular workload.

Funded by Chicago, IL (September 2018)