Legal Help for Refugees in Idaho

The Equal Justice Committee was formed in June of 2017 to encourage Boise-area lawyers to provide free legal help to low-income refugees and to provide a voice in support of all refugees. Our plan was to recruit lawyers to represent refugees in individual cases, to conduct education sessions on legal issues common in the refugee community, and to speak out publicly on behalf of refugees.

It was not intended that the new organization would handle legal representation for refugees on its own. Rather, the intention was to refer refugees to existing organizations that provide free legal help and to get more lawyers to work with those organizations, such as these:

  • The Idaho Volunteer Lawyer Program, which is operated by the Idaho State Bar Association, provides free legal help to individuals who meet its income guidelines. The Committee has encouraged more than 100 lawyers to volunteer to handle refugee cases.
  • Idaho Legal Aid also provides free legal help to low-income individuals, including refugees.
  • The Intermountain Fair Housing Council provides free legal assistance to individuals who are discriminated against in housing, regardless of their income.
  • Concordia Law School has a very active pro bono program and can be another source of help.

Educational Sessions and Advocacy

The second goal of the Committee is to conduct education sessions to help refugees and other immigrants understand the requirements of the law, to learn what their rights are, and where to go for legal help. We call this program the New Beginning Law academy. The education sessions are conducted by qualified legal experts and related professionals to acquaint immigrants with various aspects of the law that are important to their adjustment to the Idaho legal system. Videos of programs already conducted are under the Education tab. The videos provide a wealth of useful legal information.

The third objective of the Committee is to advocate on behalf of immigrants in the wider community. Some of the issues addressed already are included under the Advocacy tab. We intend to get other people in the community to speak out in favor of refugees and other immigrants.

At a meeting held on January 5, 2018, with leaders of refugee and immigrant groups from around the Treasure Valley, it was decided that the Committee would broaden its reach to include all immigrants within its programs. In order to reach a broad group of people needing legal guidance, the New Beginning Law Academy’s education programs will be conducted for the most part in monthly sessions with immigrant group leaders.

Monthly Meetings

The Committee will meet monthly at a time and location to be announced on this website to explore issues in a particular area of law, such as immigration, family law, employment, or the other pertinent issues. The monthly sessions will be videoed so that group leaders can have them translated and made available to their various groups.

In addition, the Committee will entertain requests for special education sessions to be held for groups at locations convenient to them in the community. That will allow tailored messages on particular legal issues to be delivered where they can do the most help – at churches or mosques, at scheduled gatherings, and so on. Requests for such programs can be made on the Contact tab.

It is the intent of the Committee to remind the community that all people in America are immigrants, although it should be noted that the Native Americans immigrated to this country thousands of years before everyone else. Immigration is what has made the United States a powerful nation and a good nation. From time to time, America’s principles have been tested by people who incite fear and hatred against refugees and other immigrants, but America always comes through and returns to its immigrant roots and values. The county is now being tested once again, but good will prevail. We all need to be a part of making that happen.