The Immigration Legal Services (ILS) initiative is a pilot program that would enhance existing legal services in Southwest Florida by offering immigrants legal assistance in areas where it currently does not exist.
ILS is both altruistic and economic. It is about ensuring the future sustainability of Southwest Florida’s economy and about welcoming eligible immigrants into the region’s communities. With legal assistance scarce and widely dispersed, many immigrant residents lack the critical first step towards economic success. The objective of this initiative is to assist and encourage immigrants to work to their full potential so that the diversifying Southwest Florida economy will flourish. Building sustainable communities that consist of stable families and a strong workforce is key to the long-term economic prosperity of the region. Furthermore, the graying of the region’s workforce will result in a significant need for workers, a demand which can be filled by immigrant residents, according to Workforce Now, a 2016 regional research initiative.
ILS is a pilot program to supplement existing legal services and develop outreach capabilities by placing qualified immigration attorneys and accredited non-lawyer representatives in geographic locations where the need is the greatest. There is no substitute for dedicated, affordable, and knowledgeable immigration attorneys and legal assistants such as those who work for legal aid organizations. Unfortunately, access to such legal advice in the region is extremely limited.