A Letter from Executive Director, Wes Tillett
The Importance of the LUM Immigration Clinic
I try to “climb inside the skin” of the immigrants we serve at Lafayette Urban Ministry. I try to imagine things like suffering under an abusive spouse in the midst of a volatile nation, making an arduous and often dangerous journey to the United States, attempting to connect in a culture and language unfamiliar to me, all while my legal status hangs in the balance as I navigate the bureaucracy of the US immigration system. It is emotionally taxing to think about. But this is the real situation of many of the clients served by the LUM Immigration Clinic.
Clients have left their countries of origin to pursue a brighter, safer future in the United States. Oftentimes their immigration is prompted by difficulties such as domestic violence, persecution, civil unrest, and poverty. Other times their immigration is prompted by a desire to reconnect with a spouse or children, or to pursue a degree or career.
“You never really understand another personHarper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Until you consider things from their point of view;
Until you climb inside of their skin and walk around in it.”
The LUM Immigration Clinic exists to help these individuals successfully navigate all the red tape of the US immigration system, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of certified legal assistance to those who could not afford it otherwise. The LUM Immigration Clinic is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the legal team is composed of U.S. Department of Justice accredited representatives and attorneys. Established in 2014, the LUM Immigration Clinic is the only program of its kind in Tippecanoe County and the surrounding eight-county area.
As I attempt to imagine what it is like to be an immigrant in the USA, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words ring true to me: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.” My family and I (pictured above) are proud of the LUM Immigration Clinic as it encourages us to have a posture of “xenophilia” (love of the stranger) instead of “xenophobia” (fear of the stranger). We are grateful it enables all of us in this “same boat” to row together toward the bright shore of a better future.