Northern Nevada nonprofits see influx of migrants seeking asylum, don’t have enough resources

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Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 11:24 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In less than a week, a law that allowed authorities to swiftly expel migrants at the border, based on COVID-related public health restrictions, is set to end.

With that, more asylum seekers could be arriving in different parts of the nation including the Silver State.

“The numbers are quite high, the highest we’ve seen them in years,” said Noah Montague, Immigration Unit Supervisor at Northern Nevada Legal Aid.

He says the nonprofit currently has about 60 cases and doesn’t have enough resources to represent all of the recent new arrivals.

“Immigration court is some of the most challenging and time consuming and unfortunately, it’s quite challenging to win in an immigration court,” said Montague. “As a nonprofit we have limited resources and even the private attorneys I know in town are kind of at capacity, as far as how many cases they can take.”

That’s why they have partnered with Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, which has been hosting free clinics at St. Vincent’s dining room for those seeking help or resources on removal proceedings.

“We have more people coming to our office, asking for our help,” said Annie Allen, director of legal services at CCNN. “That is why we are giving this workshop because we do not have the capacity at this time to take additional cases.”

“To know how to represent themselves, what the court is going to look like and hopefully be able to apply for asylum or another immigration benefit on their own behalf,” said Montague.

Many cases include unaccompanied minors and people fleeing domestic or gang violence.

Most of the migrants are coming from Central and South America and Haiti. According to Montague, many are staying with family members.

Both CCNN and Northern Nevada Legal Aid are needing volunteers, lawyers and donations. Many of the migrants are also needing basic necessities.

Another asylum clinic will take place Thursday, January 12 at St. Vincent’s dining room (325 Valley Rd. Reno) at 6:00 p.m.