Course to Certify Non-Attorneys to Practice Immigration Law Available at Wesley Seminary
MARION, Ind., March 12, 2015 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — In conjunction with The Wesleyan Church’s partnership in The Immigration Alliance — an organization that equips local churches across the country to provide immigration legal services to under-resourced immigrants — Wesley Seminary of Indiana Wesleyan University will offer Church-Based Immigrant Ministry. This course, taught in partnership with World Relief and Immigrant Connection, provides a foundation for understanding the immigration system in the United States in preparation for taking the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accreditation exam, the government certification that allows non-attorneys to practice immigration law.
“This course equips local ministry leaders to serve their neighbors in a way that is truly helpful personally and is strengthening to their community,” said Dr. Wayne Schmidt, Vice President for Wesley Seminary. “While U.S. immigrants come from many nations, our Spanish-language Master of Divinity students have heightened our awareness and strengthened our resolve to provide a solution to what is both a legal and spiritual challenge.”
With more than 22 million foreign-born, non-citizens in the U.S. — and with only 12,000 private immigration attorneys and 2,800 non-profit immigration attorneys and accredited staff in the U.S. — the need for trustworthy, authorized legal services has never been greater. That need was the impetus for The Wesleyan Church to join with more than a dozen other denominations and organizations to form The Immigration Alliance.
Currently a coalition of 15 evangelical church-based denominations that represent more than 28,500 churches, The Immigration Alliance is committed to dramatically multiplying the number of sites across the country providing low-cost, high-quality immigrant legal services over the next three years.
With a mantra of “Immigration is an issue, but immigrants are people,” the course will equip non-attorneys with the knowledge to provide much-needed legal counsel on immigration-related matters at Immigrant Connection sites approved by the BIA. Church-Based Immigrant Ministry will cover biblical and theological bases for Christian engagement with issues of immigration, giving church and faith-based workers tools to integrate immigration legal ministry into a holistic outreach program. Course participants will also visit the active Immigration Connection site at The Bridge Community Church in Logansport, Indiana.
Equipping more individuals with this training and certification opens the door to the possibility of setting up an Immigrant Connection Legal Clinic in the graduates’ local churches. In a released statement, The Immigration Alliance’s Board Chair and Christian Community Development Association Chief Executive Officer Noel Castellanos said, “The Immigration Alliance is uniquely positioned to equip local churches to provide legal services to under-resourced immigrants. Churches are a trusted presence in immigrant communities that can – and should – help address this critical shortage of legal services.”
Rev. Wayne MacBeth, Executive Director of the Communication and Administration Division for The Wesleyan Church, said, “Beyond our moral responsibility to serve our neighbors in need, it is a privilege to share God’s love in such a practical way. Many immigrant and refugee families’ current legal status forces them to live in the shadow economy. We can help many find their way into legal and spiritual light.”
Church-Based Immigrant Ministry will be offered at Wesley Seminary May 31-June 5. The course, which offers three-hour graduate credits, is also open to those without a bachelor’s degree. Those interested in taking the course can get more information on the IWU website. Registration is limited to 20 participants.
Indiana Wesleyan University is home to many graduate, undergraduate and associate degree programs. A well-respected evangelical Christian university, IWU is committed to providing a comprehensive, liberal arts education. IWU offers residential programs at its main campus in Marion, IN, and programs for adult students online and at learning sites located throughout Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Over 10,000 are enrolled in our adult degree courses, enabling many adults who work full or part-time or have other obligations to successfully complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees.
For more information on any of the over 80 degrees offered by IWU, contact the Admissions Office.
CONTACT: Jerry Shepherd, Associate Vice President for Adult Enrollment and Marketing, IWU. 765.677.2285