To open doors of equal opportunity by providing quality, affordable immigration-related legal services to immigrants and refugees in Nebraska.
In July of 2001, in response to a request from United Methodist Ministries of Lincoln to establish a "poverty law clinic", Equity-in-Nebraska was formed. The initial purpose was to recruit pro bono attorneys to take on non-criminal cases such as landlord-tenant issues, family law, as well as immigration law. After several weeks of research and deliberation, it became apparent that the greatest need in Nebraska involved immigration law assistance for the following reasons:
- There was a shortage of immigration attorneys
- Many immigrants could not afford an attorney
- Non-lawyers could be accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to legally represent clients before the Immigration Service, Immigration Courts, and Board of Immigration Appeals
Targeting assistance toward the indigent and low-income immigrant and providing quality legal services at a reduced cost has been the purpose for the existence of Equity-in-Nebraska, now named Center for Legal Immigration Assistance (CLIA).
From its inception, CLIA was under the administration of the United Methodist Ministries of the Lincoln District which changed its name to United Methodist Community Ministries (UMCM) of the Blue River District. In 2010, CLIA started the process of establishing its own 501(c)(3) with the support of the UMCM and the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church and the following year, CLIA was granted 501(c)(3) or tax-exempt status by the IRS.
To date, CLIA has served more than 5,000 immigrants and refugees in Nebraska, assisting them with the required legal work to be able to comply with the complex federal immigration laws. It continues to be a community-based and community-supported organization.