New program helping immigrants understand their legal rights

ORLANDO, Fla. — For many immigrants new to the United States, the path to staying here legally is a long and complicated process.

On Thursday, Orlando Township’s HOLA office, in association with the Orlando Center for Justice, held its first free bilingual legal guidance program.


Executive director Melissa Marantes with Orlando Center for Justice said the goal is to provide information and resources to help new immigrants navigate the legal system and understand their rights.

“We will help them know what the process is. How to navigate it. What’s court? How to how to change your address. Just how to go through,” Marantes said.

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The program consists of counseling with bilingual lawyers on immigration cases and is made possible through the Community Investment Grant awarded to the center.

In the Orlando area, the number of people moving or seeking asylum is growing, and for those wanting to say here legally, that means navigating a complex legal system.

“Remember, they are trying to understand and navigate a legal system that is foreign to them. That they often don’t understand,” Marantes said.

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Orlando commissioner Tony Ortiz said the class is a must for immigrants moving to Florida.

“We need to realize that the people who come here for a number of reasons. They want to be documented. They want to work. They want to be a part of the system, and this is granting them that opportunity,” Ortiz said.

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The next immigration forum will be held  Thursday, March 2, at the HOLA office at 595 North Primrose Drive, Orlando.

More information about Orlando Center for Justice and the Hello project can be found here.

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Q Mccray

Q McCray, WFTV.com

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.

Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.

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