Remember: It’s important that you find and meet with a lawyer to discuss your specific immigration case and all your options.
Sometimes calling a lawyer (also called an attorney) can feel scary, but it helps to remember that they want to help you! The first phone call to a lawyer is very simple. All you have to do when you call their office is tell them:
- Your full name
- Your phone number (including the area code)
- That you came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied child and need legal representation
- That you would like an initial consultation (which simply means the first meeting with the lawyer to discuss your case and options)
Make sure you keep track of which lawyers you have tried to contact and those you are currently in touch with – you can use this document to take notes. This will make it easier for you to know who you need to reach out to again. It will also help you show that you have been trying to find a lawyer.
Important: While some initial consultations are free, some lawyers charge a fee for their initial consultations. It’s important to ask the lawyer whether or not they charge a fee BEFORE you meet with them. If they do charge a fee that you cannot pay, some nonprofits may offer a discount or a fee waiver (which means you would not have to pay).
If no one answers and you need to leave a message...
When you first call a lawyer’s office, it’s possible that no one will answer. You may hear a voice message on an answering machine speaking in English. If English is not your preferred language, stay on the line and wait until you hear options in Spanish. To leave a message, wait for the beep at the very end. Below is an example of a message you can leave on the machine. If you are only able to talk on WhatsApp or using a regular cell phone, please let them know that.
|“Hello, my name is ___________. I am an unaccompanied child and need legal representation. I would like to know the cost and your availability for an initial consultation. My phone number is ____________ on WhatsApp or my regular line.”|
If someone answers your call in English...
If someone does answer the phone when you first call, they will probably answer in English. Do not hang up! If English is not your preferred language, you can ask if there is someone who can speak to you in Spanish or whatever your preferred language is. For example, you can simply say “¿Hablan español?” or “¿Alguien habla español?” and they will know that you need a Spanish speaker. If they can, the person who answers might transfer you to someone else who also speaks your language. They may need some time to find an interpreter. If they transfer you to an interpreter, let the interpreter know all your information (like the example message in the box above).
Sometimes it’s a good idea to try calling back later so that you can leave a voice message with all of your information.
If you are nervous about someone answering in a different language, you can contact Respond Crisis Translation to see if they can help you. Click here and fill out the form to request interpretation.
If no one calls you back...
Remember that it may take several weeks for a lawyer or organization to get back to you, because many children may be calling. Don’t get discouraged and keep trying to reach out. If you don’t hear back from a lawyer you have contacted, you can check their website to see if they offer the option to book a consultation online.
You can also send the lawyer an email with all of the important information they need (your name, phone number, that you are an unaccompanied child who needs legal representation, and that you’d like an initial consultation). If you don’t have your own email set up, click here to watch a video that explains how to make a Gmail account.
You can copy and paste the following message, but make sure you put the correct information in the spaces where the pink text is:
My name is [type your first and last name]. I am an unaccompanied child and need legal representation. Please let me know if you are available and how much you charge for an initial consultation. My phone number is [type your full phone number, including the area code]. My preferred language is [type the language you are most comfortable with]. Please contact me through WhatsApp or my regular line. Thank you.
[type your first and last name]
If the lawyers you contacted do not provide this online reservation option and do not return your calls or email, contact ImportaMí. Let us know the lawyer’s name and contact formation, and we will try to contact them to help you.