Legal Services for Migrants
HSPs will more likely provide referral to legal services than provide them directly on-site. This is because private and confidential space is often a constraint, and because it is a specialised service that may be difficult to provide on an on-call basis.
Legal assistance is, however, one of the most important and challenging areas for many migrants. They may need advice and support about an asylum claim, or to regularise their legal situation, obtain a work permit, or access housing, education or benefits.
Migrants may also need legal support if they have been victims of violence, harassment or abuse, including by authorities. They may find themselves in difficulties if they are charged with smuggling or with so-called ‘immigration crimes’ – crossing a border illegally.
Consider the needs that particular groups may have, especially unaccompanied or separated children.
Provide basic information about rights and entitlements. Create brochures or pamphlets in multiple languages on topics of most common concern, e.g. housing, work, and asylum.
Make agreements with organisations or individuals providing legal counsel or support, bearing in mind you will need different contacts for different areas of law. As always, ensure in advance that these partners are willing to accept irregular migrants and respect their privacy and dignity.
Hold weekly clinics staffed by paid or volunteer lawyers or people with good familiarity with the law, who can answer questions, review documents or provide advice. Be careful to consider any legal liability you or your staff/volunteers may incur by providing advice. Ensure that either you or the legal representative is covered by professional indemnity insurance or similar coverage.
Invite experts to give occasional workshops on issues of interest to significant numbers of people, such as legal rights and how to contract for employment, housing, and immigration or asylum.
Legal rights to family reunion are an issue of interest to many people separated by borders from family members. Identifying some of the main destinations for people visiting your HSP, and connect with the RCRC or partners there, so you can inform migrants