Heain Lee, Roberto Valentin, & the Superheroes of Brousseau & Lee
5 years ago this month, Just Neighbors received an email that would be the start of a long-standing community partnership that would help to change the lives of countless immigrants in need of immigration legal services.
In 2019, Linda Lacy, the Front Office Administrator and Volunteer Coordinator, received an email from Roberto Valentin:
My partner and I just started a new firm and find ourselves with lots of free time. We'd like to use that time to give back and also to stay busy.
Roberto Valentin and Heain Lee of Brousseau & Lee (formerly BLV Law), an immigration law firm in Falls Church, VA, wanted to use their expertise as immigration attorneys to give back to the community. After verifying their services, Just Neighbors began partnering with Brousseau & Lee in two ways.
First, Just Neighbors added Brousseau & Lee to its referral list. As much as Just Neighbors would love to help every single immigrant that calls our office, we do not have the capacity to serve everyone. When we do not have capacity, we do not serve their case type, or they do not qualify for our services, Just Neighbors provides a list of verified nonprofit organizations or private attorneys that may be able to assist them with their immigration cases.
Brousseau & Lee also began taking on various immigration cases pro bono. Roberto, who is barred in Virginia, began collaborating with the Northern Virginia team and Heain, who is barred in Maryland, worked alongside the Maryland-DC team.
As our relationship with Brousseau & Lee grew and the needs of immigrant communities changed, the types of cases they took started to be more complex. Dozens of immigrant children who were abandoned, neglected, or abused by one or both of their biological parents were represented by Roberto and Heain and were able to receive Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status as a result.
They also took asylum cases, which are notoriously complex, lengthy (we’re talking years), and require significant amounts of legal representation and preparation for asylum interviews and court appearances. Heain even let us know recently that one of the asylum cases she had taken on pro bono was approved by USCIS!
Brousseau & Lee have been an invaluable community partner to Just Neighbors and immigrant communities. In 2023, Just Neighbors received 2,588 requests for immigration legal services, but could only serve 17% of the people who called us simply because of financial capacity. Just Neighbors’ Director of Legal Services, Dominique Poirier says:
“When we reach out to Roberto and Heain, they rarely say no. We are so grateful to have a partner like that because we can’t possibly serve the people who call us and our clients can’t possibly afford private attorneys.”
Community partners like Brousseau & Lee are critical to serving immigrant communities. Without them, even fewer families would have legal representation in their immigration cases or would completely forgo legal representation altogether because of the high cost.
Thank you, Brousseau & Lee! Just Neighbors is so grateful for you and all the work you do to support immigrant communities!