Central Florida launches program to help immigrants with legal process

Project Hello holds orientations at Orlando, Kissimmee locations 1st Thursday of each month

ORLANDO, Fla. – A program aimed at assisting the immigrant community with the legal process in Central Florida officially launched on Thursday.

Project Hello is an immigrant orientation program that happens the first Thursday of each month at the Orlando Center for Justice and Cristiana Renuevo Church in Kissimmee.

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Organizers said the program intends to help immigrants who recently arrived in the area join the Orange and Osceola county communities.

“We’ll be able to go through what the process is,” Executive Director Melissa Marantes said. “Help them understand how to navigate the system, what happens with court and when they have it.”

The Hello Project hosts an in-person and virtual orientation with bilingual attorneys who help answer immigration questions.

The initiative was made possible through community investment grants, as well as a partnership with the City of Orlando and the Hispanic Federation Caminos de Esperanza.

“These people that come here for a number of reasons,” Orlando Commissioner Tony Ortiz said. “They want to be documented. They want to work. They want to be part of the system. This is granting that opportunity.”

According to the Orlando Center for Justice, the immigration court in Orlando has more than 125,000 pending cases in 2023 and only 21.1% of immigrants had an attorney for assistance.

“I don’t think anyone should navigate this complex legal system alone and in a language they don’t understand,” Marantes said. “Family stability depends on the ability of certain family members to work, provide for their loved ones and these immigrant families are trying their best to do what has been asked of them by the courts.”

The free legal orientation will be held at 10 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month until Nov. 2.

Those interested in the Hello Project can RSVP at the Orlando office by calling 407-246-4310 or at the Kissimmee office by calling 407-787-9859.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.