Groups in Chicago launch $10M legal aid plan for immigrants, ex-inmates

Two nonprofit organizations in Chicago have launched a state-funded legal aid program designed to help thousands of immigrants, former inmates and low-income people across Illinois.

The program is called Access to Justice, which will be funded with $10 million in state money. Roughly 60 organizations across Illinois are expected to benefit.

An estimated 4,600 people will get full legal representation through the program, according to Erendira Rendon, a vice president of The Resurrection Project, one of two Chicago groups administering the program.

She anticipated the funds will pay for about 10,500 legal screenings as well. Her group will offer help to people impacted by immigration policies, including those facing deportation or who need visa help.

“We’re trying to make sure more families are protected and able to stay in Illinois,” she said.

Program organizers also planned to focus on people who have been incarcerated.

One goal of the program is to help former inmates stay in the workforce, according to Tanya Woods, executive director of the Westside Justice Center, the other group that'll run the program.

Both groups recently held a kickoff event for the program.

“When people can retain jobs, it makes it better for the community,” she said.