PRIME was founded in Philadelphia in September 1983.  In 1986
    it also began serving Central Pennsylvania, southern New
    Jersey and the state of Delaware.  Its main purpose was to
    resettle refugees who had passed an immigration interview
    overseas and were allowed to come to the United States.

    Many of these first refugees came from Eastern Europe, which
    was then behind the “iron curtain.”  Later, in 1989, large numbers
    of Christian Evangelicals arrived.  PRIME has also resettled
    refugees from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
    Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Vietnam.

    In 1992 PRIME became recognized by the Board of Immigration
    Appeals in order to provide Immigration counseling, and since
    1996 staff members of PRIME have also been accredited to
    represent clients before the Immigration Courts.  

    After 9/11 it became increasingly difficult to maintain a large
    number of resettlement caseworkers that could relate to the
    various cultural groups because the flow of refugees and the
    funding were drastically reduced.  At the same time, the staff of
    PRIME had gained a certain expertise in representing clients with
    the Immigration Service and the Immigration Court, and we
    realized that many of these clients did not have the financial
    ability to pay a lawyer.

    Committed to assisting refugees and the uprooted, we decided
    in 2005 to concentrate on helping clients who would otherwise
    not understand how to gain immigration benefits and could
    easily end up becoming illegal in this country.  

    Our greatest interest has been representing clients asking for
    asylum, that is, assisting people who are afraid to return to their
    home country.  In immigration interviews and in the court, unlike
    criminal court, free lawyers are not appointed.  It has been
    estimated by the University of Syracuse that between 2001-2005
    9.2% of all asylum claimants in court proceedings had no lawyer,
    and that 93% of those without legal representation lost their
    asylum cases.

    Today PRIME has represented people from all continents,
    including Colombians, Central Americans, Ecuadorians,
    Eritreans, Guineans, Jamaicans, Indonesians, Kenyans,
    Liberians, Mexicans, Pakistanis, Sudanese, former
    Yugoslavians.  We have represented women fleeing female
    circumcision, people fleeing religious persecution, and
    unaccompanied minors.
Give justice to the weak
and the fatherless; maintain
the right of the afflicted
and the destitute.
Psalm 82:3
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