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SMRLS Awarded USCIS Citizenship and Assimilation Grant

On September 24, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) named SMRLS a recipient of a $225,000 grant to fund our immigration work with Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) seeking to gain full United States citizenship. This two-year grant began on October 1, 2018 and runs through September 30, 2020. 

In addition to funding our representation of LPRs applying to become United States citizens, this grant also supports SMRLS’ collaboration with the citizenship instruction programs of the International Institute of Minnesota and the Adult and Family Literacy Program in Rochester. This new partnership with the International Institute of Minnesota will help our clients prepare for their citizenship tests and create more resources to serve the large immigrant population in the Twin Cities.
The formal relationship between SMRLS and the Adult and Family Literacy Program in Rochester Public Schools started with the 2013 Citizenship and Integration grant. SMRLS is the main provider of naturalization legal services in Rochester while the Adult and Family Literacy Program in Rochester Public Schools is the main provider of English Language Learner  and citizenship classes. All three programs have embraced the opportunity to work together to increase capacity and resources to assist LPRs becoming U.S. citizens. 
SMRLS thanks USCIS for generously supporting our immigration work to help LPRs become United States citizens.
SMRLS in the News
Open Door Health Center
Healthcare-Legal Partnership

SMRLS’ Healthcare-Legal Partnership (HLP) at Open Door Health Center in Mankato was recently featured in the  Mankato Free Press . This innovative partnership is designed to treat patients’ health-harming legal needs through a collaborative effort between medical staff and SMRLS attorneys. By breaking down the barriers to legal access and ensuring an equal opportunity for justice, patients are more likely to receive the help they need to live healthy lives. Click here to read the article.
Housing Counseling Program Receives HUD Funding

The Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD) Midwest recently awarded SMRLS $33,678 for our Housing Counseling Program. In 2017, this program assisted more than 1,000 clients with comprehensive counseling services for cases ranging from fair housing and tenants’ rights to evictions. The program also provides trainings about housing rights and responsibilities to tenants, service providers, and subsidized housing providers. Click here for more.
New Federal Bar SMRLS Admittees
On December 19, 2018, five SMRLS attorneys appeared before The Honorable Susan Richard Nelson , U.S. District Judge, for admission to the Federal Bar. The admission ceremony was held at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building in St. Paul. SMRLS attorneys Kristin Holmes , Christopher Scott , Tara Skar , Sheena Thompson , and Thuzong Xiong were motioned in by SMRLS attorneys Caitlin Guilford and Laura Jelinek .
During their motions, Ms. Guilford and Ms. Jelinek explained to the court how the candidates’ experiences and character will make them outstanding additions to the Federal Bar. After SMRLS CEO Jessie Nicholson spoke before Judge Richard Nelson, the judge’s clerk then distributed certificates to the new SMRLS admittees. Congratulations to the newly admitted SMRLS attorneys!
In Case You Missed It
2018 Fall Appreciation Luncheon
On November 20, 2018, nearly 400 guests gathered at the InterContinental Riverfront Hotel in Saint Paul for SMRLS' annual Fall Appreciation Luncheon . The audience was comprised of SMRLS staff and volunteers, judges, corporate partners, and more than a dozen law firms.
Caryn Boisen , President of the Ramsey County Bar Foundation, presented SMRLS CEO Jessie Nicholson with a check for $24,387.48. This gift is a portion of proceeds from the Ramsey County Bar Association’s annual Bench & Bar Benefit event.

Recent SMRLS retirees Gerry Kaluzny , Paul Mundt , and Steve Wolfe were honored for their more than 30 years of service. Former SMRLS Campaign for Legal Aid fundraising committee members, Thomas A. Boardman and Jon A. Theobald , received the Award of Appreciation and Lifetime Leadership Award, respectively, for their contributions to SMRLS as volunteers and community partners.

The luncheon was highlighted by John Pollock , Coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, who delivered an engaging presentation about the growing movement advocating for a client’s civil right to counsel. Click here to watch the full presentation. 

SMRLS CEO Jessie Nicholson says, "Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Fall Appreciation Luncheon. It's fantastic to see so many supporters of SMRLS as an affirmation of the work that we do in providing access to justice." 
SMRLS Legal Checkup Clinics
In December 2018:
  • SMRLS attorney Kathy Eveslage was promoted to Hotline Senior Attorney, effective Jan. 1, 2019
  • SMRLS attorney Suzanne Guertin was promoted to Metro Family Law Unit Senior Attorney
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Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services | (651) 228-9823 |