A new nonprofit organization has entered the scene in Montana with the sole purpose of protecting the rights of immigrants.

The Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance will fight discrimination against migrants, educate migrants about their rights and provide legal assistance.

MIJA, the group's acronym, is an affectionate term for daughter in Spanish and is a representation of the care the group hopes to provide immigrant populations.

"For years there have been several groups and individuals who come together to do work on immigrant issues," says MIJA Executive Director Shahid Haque-Hausrath, a Helena immigration attorney. "We've been doing a lot of good work without a lot of funding, but our work has been limited by not having an organization dedicated to this issue."

MIJA will raise money through donations and apply for grants to do its work. Initial projects include educating voters about the perils of anti-immigrant Legislative Referendum 121, clinics to teach immigrants about their rights and legal assistance on immigration, family law and contract law issues.

"Migrants often fail to exercise their legal rights," said Haque-Hausrath.

The ACLU of Montana is committed to protecting immigrants' rights, and we welcome MIJA as a new ally in this work.

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