Annapolis Immigration Justice Network Legal Assistance Fund Guidelines

Purpose of the Legal Assistance Fund. The Annapolis Immigration Justice Network (AIJN) established a legal assistance fund in April, 2018. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to those in immigration proceedings in our community who need lawyers but cannot afford them. We believe that all immigrants have due process rights, and we know that the stakes of immigration proceedings can mean the difference between life and death as well as the difference between living in freedom or living with the threat of persecution or grave harm. We also know that these immigration proceedings are too complex to be dealt with fairly or effectively without lawyers, and that all too often those who need lawyers the most cannot afford them. Our fund is intended to provide access to justice for those people in our community whose need is the greatest.

Decisions to provide money from the fund. Decisions on whether to grant funds are made by the AIJN Legal Defense Fund Committee. The Committee makes those decisions on the basis of information provided by applicants in the AIJN Legal Defense Fund Application Form. We use that information to assess the applicant’s financial situation, the reason why they need a lawyer, and the urgency of the case. Applications can be filed by people in immigration proceedings or their lawyers.

Funding is provided only to those in financial need.  We want to use our funds only to benefit those persons who cannot afford the legal support they need. For that reason, we ask that applicants let us know what their income is and how many people they have to support with that income. We use the guidelines for financial need established for federal legal aid by the Legal Services Corporation. Generally, we will provide funds for applicants at or below 125 percent of the poverty line.  Here are the 2018 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines:

Family Size Weekly Income Bi-weekly Income Monthly Income Yearly Income
1 $291 $583 $1,264 $15,175
2 $395 $791 $1,714 $20,575
3 $499 $999 $2,164 $25,975
4 $603 $1,206 $2,614 $31,375
5 $707 $1,414 $3,064 $36,775
6 $811 $1,622 $3,514 $42,175
7 $914 $1,829 $3,964 $47,575
8 $1,018 $2,037 $4,414 $52,975

For each additional household member add $5,400. We may provide funding to applicants who earn more than the amounts set out above if the applicant has a particularly urgent need.

Ordinarily, we work  with pro bono or “low bono” lawyers. We believe it is in the best interests of the immigrants we work with for their lawyers not to be motivated by monetary reward. For that reason, it is our strong preference to  work only with pro bono lawyers who do not charge for their services or “low bono” lawyers who cap their hourly or service fees. If circumstances require us to work with other attorneys, we will do everything we can to limit attorneys fees to charges that are reasonable and that our beneficiaries can afford.