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February 13, 2017

Two Philly lawyers offer immigrants green card assistance for $1

Two Philadelphia-based lawyers are doing everything in their power to ease the panic felt by immigrants facing an uncertain future under the Trump administration.

As the legal review and public debate surrounding Trump's executive order continue on an uncertain timeline, local attornies Jeremy Peskin and James Pittman are offering their app-based service, Borderwise, to low-income immigrants for just a dollar, according to The Washington Post.

Peskin, a native of Canada, met Pittman after running into complications with his own green card paperwork. Even though he received his undergraduate and law degrees at universities in the United States, Peskin's legal background and knowledge weren't enough to simplify the application process enough that he didn't need help.

When Peskin sought out the help of Pittman in Philadelphia, the pair agreed that the steep green card application fees charged by immigration lawyers — anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 — were a sign of a cumbersome system in need of a tech-based solution.

Last October, Peskin and Pittman launched Borderwise as a sort of TurboTax for U.S. visa applications. The secure website helps organize all of the required forms and walks clients through a checklist until they have successfully prepared and completed their application. Once everything is ready, the application is reviewed and readied for filing by a support network of immigration lawyers participating with Borderwise.

While the typical fee for Borderwise is $500, Peskin and Pittman decided in the wake of Trump's executive order that they would provide the service for $1 to immigrants who earn less than $30,000 per year.

The fate of Trump's executive order will depend on a judicial review by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to reinstate the travel restrictions after the Trump administration appealed an earlier decision to halt it. Federal officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have lately ramped up raids and deportations to enforce policies put forth by the White House.