MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is home to more than 476,000 immigrants. Roughly one in five are Latinx.

For 25 years, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has been helping people across the state with immigration legal services at no cost.

From green cards to citizenship and everything in between, executive director Veena Iyer and the team at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota help people stay and solidify their status at their four strategically placed offices across Minnesota in Worthington, St Paul, Moorhead and Austin.

It’s a legal process that can cost tens of thousands of dollars for some, which they cover with the help of state and federal funding and private donors.

“We have now helped so many families go through the entire process of immigration,” Iyer said.

More than half the clients at ILCM are of Hispanic heritage, mostly from Mexico but also from Central and South America. Right now, Iyer says a big chunk of the work for those clients are DACA cases.

“The majority of DACA recipients in Minnesota and really across the country are Latinx,” said Iyer “There is no way for somebody who is a DACA holder just on that basis to be able to apply for a green card. Really for most of them there’s no next step.”

It’s one of the groups Iyer says that desperately needs a pathway to citizenship, along with other groups like essential workers.

“There’s a lot of people who think there’s a line of some sort there’s a line and everybody can get in it. For a lot of people there is no line,” said Iyer.

Iyer says Latinx immigrants in particular are revitalizing Greater Minnesota in places like Worthington, which is 41% Latinx.

“Those main streets are full of immigrant businesses,” Iyer said. “Folks are just powering the farm industries powering food production and those are the folks out state just can’t do without.”

Iyer said better policies are needed to help with things like critical staffing shortages, and to provide stability to many who have called the U.S. home for decades.

The Migration Policy Institute says most Minnesota Latinx, more than 200,000, are native-born U.S. citizens.

Erin Hassanzadeh