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Legal Project

Cases that have not been resolved through our organizing strategies are handled by our Legal Project, or are referred to local attorneys who work with MIRA, to offer low-cost assistance to immigrants in selected cases. L. Patricia Ice, an attorney licensed in Michigan, Mississippi and New Mexico, is the director of the Legal Project. In addition to offering basic immigration services for immigrants in cases such as naturalization and other immigration form preparation, in certain circumstances, our Legal Project can assist clients with EEOC claims, Wage and Hour complaints, and civil claims against individuals, businesses, and other types of cases. African, Asian, Latino and Middle Eastern victims throughout the country, and particularly in the Deep South, have been targeted, intimidated, assaulted and often afforded only limited access to the court system, partly due to racist and xenophobic attitudes and policies that are advanced through the Legislature and other institutions. MIRA offers workshops and advocacy outreaches to educate the community-at-large regarding immigrants’ rights.  The MIRA Legal Project has assisted immigrants from more than 50 countries.

In the future, our Legal Project plans to assist clients with high impact cases that could result in policy changes or the alteration of social attitudes towards immigrants.

The Legal Project offers educational workshops and clinics that provide direct immigration services such as preparation of naturalization applications. We also train volunteer legal and non-legal professionals to assist with our workshops and clinics. In addition, we host student interns from the Mississippi College School of Law and others who assist us from time to time. When necessary, the Legal Project schedules meetings with law enforcement departments to address racial profiling, challenge the dissemination of mis-truths about the immigrant community and decries the periodic failure of law enforcement to protect and serve immigrant crime victims.

Attorney Ice writes a column that appears monthly in the Mississippi Spanish language publication La Noticia and in the Jackson Advocate. One of her columns follows:

Ice on Immigration

Question: Last week I was fired from my job for no apparent reason.  Is it legal for my employer to just fire me like that?

Answer: In most states, including Mississippi, employees are considered “at will” employees and can be terminated at any time, unless the termination violates federal or state law, company policies or a contract, such as a union contract.  “At will” means that your employer can fire you at any moment for any reason, good or bad, or for no reason at all.  However, if you suspect that you were terminated because of discrimination, under certain conditions, you may be able to file a viable complaint against your employer with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a state anti-discrimination agency.   Currently, the state of Mississippi does not have an anti-discrimination agency.  You must file an EEOC claim within 180 days of the last day of the discrimination occurred.  You do not have to have valid immigration status in the United States in order to file an EEOC complaint against a current or former employer.  Therefore, an undocumented immigrant can file a claim and, if discrimination is proven, be successful.  You have to file a claim with the EEOC before you can sue an employer in a court of law.  To find out more about employment discrimination and the EEOC, please visit an attorney or go to www.eeoc.gov.

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