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DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic helps to clear backlog of cases

DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic helps to clear backlog of cases
DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic helps to clear backlog of cases 02:31

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Only on 2.

Chicago is struggling with influx of migrants arriving daily, and part of issue is the complex and very time-consuming process of applying for status.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey takes us inside DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic where students are working to clean up the backlog. Like clockwork, they're getting more and more requests. 

Sioban Albiol, Professor of Legal Practice and Director of the DePaul Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic and the student attorneys can say first-hand that the end of the bus ride is only the beginning of the journey for asylum seekers in Chicago.

Many don't even understand the definition of asylum, which is escaping a very specific type of persecution.

"If that persecution was motived by race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group," said Albiol.

The student attorneys and soon-to-be graduates in the clinic understand the need first hand.

"My parents immigrated in the 90s from Poland and my dad actually filed for asylum, but he was not granted," said Camilla Mroczkowski, student attorney Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic

"I was an asylum seeuker myself back in 2011. I was part of the revolution in Syria," said Emad Mahou, student attorney Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.

Which is why they're eager to help asylum seekers through the mountains of paperwork that are currently clogging up the system of approval.

"The application ends up sometimes over 200 pages. Because you have to provide an affidavit for your story. Why are you seeking asylum," said Mahou.

"The demand is higher than the services that are available currently," Albiol said. 

So, with more and more refugees arriving every day...

"If I go back to my computer after this interview, I'm sure there will be something in my inbox asking for assistance," Albiol said. 

How can we speed things up?

Albiol said the requirement to file for asylum within a year of arrival needs to be loosened.

"I think if some of those pressures could be alleviated, it may be able to facilitate people in accessing legal services," Albiol said.

And more asylum seekers need access to legal representation.

"If you have legal representation in immigration proceeding, you are four times more likely to get your case granted, Mahou said.

The type of representation that these student attorneys are providing, one case at a time.

"The clients that I worked with changed my life. And that's why I'm so excited to work in this field. Because I want to hear more stories and I want to help people," said Mroczkowski.

The Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic has provided services in over 10,000 cases over the last 25 years, including the cases of more than 100 asylum seekers.

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