Dothan law firm seeks to help illegal immigrants in Troy

Published 3:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2017

Immigrants looking for legal help in Troy need look no further this Saturday.

Jacoby and Meyers law firm will have representatives available at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church starting at 10 a.m. to help immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Michael DiChiara, a Troy native representing the law firm, said the firm will work with immigrants to fill out Power of Attorney and Guardianship paperwork on the spot to protect immigrants’ children and assets in the case they are deported. Bilingual paralegals will be present to interpret.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

DiChiara said the law firm could also look for potential paths to citizenship for immigrants on an individual basis.

“There are a few ways through family connections that can make the path to citizenship easier,” DiChiara said. “For example, if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, you have a fairly easy path to become a citizen. Also, you can get some things done through your employer if they sponsor you in certain ways if you’re in the U.S. for a certain amount of time and don’t have a criminal background.”

Guardianship papers protect the children of U.S. immigrants in the case that the parents are deported, DiChiara said.

DiChiara said that most illegal immigrants aren’t in the U.S. to cause harm or commit crimes.

“These people are in a very, very tough situation,” DiChiara said. “The thing is, everyone focuses on the ones who come over here and do bad things.” But the majority are good people dealt a bad hand trying to get away from bad situations and make better lies for themselves.

“People ask ‘Why don’t they go through the process and do it the right way?’ The problem is our system is so backlogged it would take them 20 years or more or they would never get through. They would love to do it the right way and pay taxes… but the only option would be to sit there in their country for 20 or 30 years.”

DiChiara said the firm has been getting many calls from local businesses asking what could be done to help the immigrants they employ, so the firm decided to come up to Troy for the day and help those in need of their services.

“It’s really hard to say whether you can help them unless you talk to them face to face,” DiChiara said.

The law firm will set up at the church at 10 a.m. and stay until they’ve helped everyone has a chance to be helped, DiChiara said.

President Donald Trump’s stance against illegal immigration has been heavily publicized, but DiChiara said that illegal immigrants haven’t had good conditions under any president lately.

“President Obama deported the most immigrants of any president,” DiChiara said. “It’s always been bad for the immigrants. They’ve never had a good opportunity to come through under any president.

“In my opinion, the best thing we can do is fix the system. I hope some things this administration is doing is trying to fix the system overall.”

DiChiara said the Jacoby and Meyers law firm is doing its part to lend a hand to these people.

“We’re here trying to help them understand the correct way to get legal help,” DiChiara said. “We’re here to help them out in a system that they have slight chance of succeeding in.

“The best thing they can do is to be prepared, know the rights they do have and prepare their family and property in case something does happen. It’s hard to know who to trust for them, and we hope we can be those people.”