We will create a self service online platform to providing documented and undocumented immigrants and their families customized legal resources for preparedness, relief, and human rights.
GLOBAL AWARDS CATEGORY
Best Website/Web app
Mission: We will create a customized self service online platform providing documented and undocumented immigrants and their families legal resources for preparedness, relief, and protection of their human rights.
Current State of Services: By and far the US remains a global leader as a destination for immigrants. Previous efforts of proposing comprehensive immigration reform in the United States have only highlighted the different scenarios faced by the nation’s approximate 40.4 million (US Census Bureau, 2011) immigrant population. Of this population, approximately 11 million are undocumented, nearly half are naturalized citizens, and the major immigrant sending countries include Mexico, India, the Philippines and China. On one hand, the US relies heavily on a foreign workforce as demonstrated by the alphabet soup of visas available to foreign professionals, workers and students. Undocumented immigrants on the other hand arrive in increasingly dangerous conditions, to often face a life “in the shadows” full of vulnerability, difficult working conditions, a lack of access to basic services and increased possibilities of deportation. Numerous types of services and pro-immigrant type organizations have been developed to facilitate immigrants’ lives. Though, the information is often duplicated, unorganized, inaccessible and confusing. Furthermore, immigrants are often hesitant to seek out help or advice for fear of deportation or other risks which they might face. Complicating the situation even more, anti-immigrant laws and policies enacted on state levels in the last few years have fostered an even more hostile environment for many immigrants.
Our Product: ImmiGuide will be a free, secure, and comprehensive “first step” assessment for immigrants - an online platform that is currently inexistent. After inputting basic information on an individual's immigration history, the website will provide the user a preliminary diagnosis applicable to their specific situation. Depending on a user’s current documentation, family situation, region, education, and duration of stay, among other factors, My Immigration Guide will produce a customized diagnosis that includes:
Connections to local legal consultation
An overview of potential outcomes for the user
Eligibility status for naturalization and/or fee waivers
A toolkit of literature and resources to address family anxiety
An overview of the user’s rights
A customized action plan including relevant forms to complete, personal/family preparedness steps to take, and local help to pursue.
The added value of ImmiGuide comes from its anonymity, its personalization, and its easy access. This website aims to empower users with information, acting as a trustworthy guide during an often confusing and overwhelming process.
Strategy Implementation: There is already a number of resources accessible by migrants to access qualified legal assistance, assess the risks of their current status and/or situation, and identify various rights and eligibilities. To develop the foundation ImmiGuide, an integration of the current resources will be of paramount importance. Examples of the already existing resources that provide customized resources are as follows:
Legal Consultation Resources - The American Immigrant Lawyer's Association (AILA) and Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) have already existing databases of qualified lawyers and legal assistance organizations searchable on a geographical, current status-based algorithms. Integration of these powerful search tools would provide a foundation of My Immigration Guide's customized consultation resources.
Forms and Legal Advice - All immigration related forms are accessible on the USCIS website. Because the recommendation of forms for specific statuses is considered legal advice, the development of these recommendations will rely on the service of approved immigration attorneys. This could be achieved through a system of regulated open sourcing to ensure forms and materials are up to date. Forms and legal advice should also be translated and available in multiple languages.
Personal/Family Risks & Preparedness- There are various measures an individual or family can take in order to prepare for the risks of being a non-citizen in the United States. These materials vary widely and include toolkits to reduce the anxiety of being a non-citizen and improve outcomes if a non-citizen is confronted by legal authorities including local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Management: In its early stages, we view the management and coordination of this project as minimal. Information would be automatically updated and pulled from website such as IAN and USCIS.
Staff/advisors needed: tech/IT experts, immigration law experts, volunteers
Sustainability and Scalability: Such a model could prove valuable not only for the United States but also for other similar, major receiving countries who might be interested in duplicating it. In future stages, the model itself could be expanded to include linkages between different countries and organizations for information-sharing purposes. For example, family members who might be in risk of deportation or have a family member who was deported could communicate with local organizations in country of origins through an easy click for additional legal resources.
- Aaron Rodriguez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Suthen Thomas (email@example.com)
- Johannes Ardiant (Johannes_Ardiant@hks15.harvard.edu)
- Cristian Martinez (Cristian_Martinez@hks15.harvard.edu)
- Nick Kang (Nick_Kang@hks15.harvard.edu)
- Marlee Chong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Denise Linn (Denise_Linn@hks15.harvard.edu)
- Christina Giordano (email@example.com)
- Daniella Burgi-Palomino (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Phebe Philips (email@example.com)
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