For newcomers to the U.S., a pressing need is finding help to navigate the complex legal process of applying to become residents and citizens, stresses Saulo Padilla, immigration education coordinator for MCC U.S.

The U.S. has more than 22 million foreign-born, non-citizens — and only 12,000 private immigration attorneys and 2,800 non-profit immigration attorneys and accredited staff. “The need for well-trained, trustworthy and honest legal services is urgent,” Padilla says.

For the past 14 years, MCC U.S. has been providing 40-hour immigration law trainings, building capacity for volunteers and non-profit and church-based staff members to take their first steps toward a rigorous accreditation process that enables them to work directly with immigrants.

For graduates such as Mara Weaver, the training provides an intense, broad-based introduction to immigration law. As a paralegal at the Goshen, Ind., office of the National Immigrant Justice Center, Weaver continues to build on those principles.

“It gave me hooks to hang my knowledge on once I started this work,” says Weaver, who learned of the MCC training and became inspired to do this work while in Mexico through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program.

And the impact of the training multiplies as each graduate works with clients. “I have around 75 open cases I’m working on right now,” Weaver says, explaining that as cases close others will open.