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
Two years after its formation, Equity-in-Nebraska was the first Nebraska agency to file a U visa, an immigration benefit extended to victims of crime (particularly, domestic violence) in order to encourage the reporting of said crimes so that arrests and convictions can be made, making our community safer.
From its inception, Equity-in-Nebraska 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, Equity-in-Nebraska 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, Center for Legal Immigration Assistance (CLIA) was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the IRS.
In 2013, CLIA formed a partnership with Nebraska Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), now called Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NCESDV) in order to serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence in rural Nebraska. NCESDV partners with rural crisis centers to provide counseling and other resources while CLIA completes legal immigration paperwork (U visas, VAWA, T visas) on behalf of survivors.
To date, CLIA has served more than 7,000 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.