Oakland County Bar Foundation funds legal clinic

Immigrants and refugees in Oakland County with legal needs now have a place for free legal assistance thanks to funding provided by the Oakland County Bar Foundation (OCBF). A $25,000 grant from the OCBF along with a second $25,000 grant from the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program provided the Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center (SWIRC) funds to open its third area free legal clinic.

With its first clinic opened in June 2015 at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) in Southwest Detroit and its second clinic at the FREC2 on Detroit’s east side, SWIRC has quickly grown into the area’s largest provider of free legal services to Detroit-area immigrants.

“We are pleased to support this program,” said OCPF President Patrick McCarthy. “It will provide a broad array of legal services to the Oakland County immigrant community to help them prosper and realize their dreams.” 

The new center opens in January 2018 and will be located at the First Presbyterian Church, 99 Wayne St., in downtown Pontiac.  Additional help for the clinic comes from Centro Multicultural also located in Pontiac.

“Many newcomers face critical needs for legal services and they don’t know where to turn,” reports attorney Jonathan Contreras, SWIRC’s legal director.  “And their needs go far beyond immigration matters.”

So far in 2017, SWIRC has assisted more than 1,000 clients on matters ranging from visa applications, to negotiating with landlords, to family law issues, to help on traffic violations.  “People from immigrant communities often feel intimidated by the legal system.  And, a language barrier only makes matters worse,” says SWIRC Executive Director Kevin Piecuch.  “We’re grateful to the OCPF, the Ford Fund, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), and our other supporters and volunteers for helping SWIRC expand its reach.”

The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. For more information about SWIRC’s program and services, visit: www.detimmigrantcenter.com or telephone 313-881-2903.