Immigration lawyer sets up practice in county



HUNTINGBURG — Immigration lawyer Christine Popp travels from Bloomington to Dubois County to help immigrants with legal matters.

She has an office on Fourth Street in Huntingburg, and currently comes for appointments. She also takes calls and emails from her clients.

“It’s a very uncertain time right now with immigration,” she said, “so this is a really pressing need. I didn’t think at first of actually opening this office. But as time went on, the more I thought about it, it just seemed like a really good fit for me.”

More than 10 years ago, Popp worked for Indiana Legal Services and did some outreach in this area through the now-defunct Guadalupe Center, which the Catholic Diocese of Evansville ran in Huntingburg. After it closed, a small immigration office was established at Monastery Immaculate Conception.

Popp’s arrival this time, and subsequent establishment of an office, is the result of different ongoing collaborations, starting with the Latino Collaboration Table, which brings members of the Latino and Anglo communities together to work on various issues together. The LCT held community meetings in 2017 and three areas were identified: communications, education and immigration. A subcommittee formed for each category.

One of the top two needs identified by the immigration committee was immigration law.

“The immigration lawyer came out of that work, and the connections were made primarily through the Indiana [University] Center for Rural Engagement,” said Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner, who is co-chair of the committee. “(Representatives) were a part of the workshops.”

Those representatives were Popp and Indiana University-Bloomington law professor Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, who invited Popp to come with him. Being involved with the immigrant community in Bloomington, Popp accepted the invitation.

“And that’s when I realized that I could help with this need,” she said.

Popp’s practice in Dubois County is relatively new, but she has years of legal experience. Her Bloomington practice is 7 years old. Her partner is her husband, business and civil ligation lawyer Greg Bullman. They live in Bloomington with their three children.

Popp has always had an interest in international issues and other cultures, she said. She has family from Latin America. At Indiana University-Bloomington, she majored in Latin American studies and Spanish before going on to Vermont Law School to earn her law degree.

After working in international environmental law policy and water policy, Popp changed her focus.

“Doing policy work was not as exciting and engaging to me as is actually representing people and helping individuals,” she said. “And that’s when I decided that I wanted to do something more social justice oriented, more helping people. Because I spoke Spanish, and had the background that I had, immigration law was a really great fit for me. It felt like a good area for me to go in-depth at my passions and interests. I’ve long been passionate about immigration issues, from when I was in college.”

Popp’s practice focuses mainly on family immigration and humanitarian immigration, the latter of which includes asylum work, deportation work and helping people become citizens.

“For most of the people I meet with, it is trying to find out what options do you have to move forward in your life. For some people who have no status at all, it may be what is the best process to get you a green card,” Popp said. “Some people come here because they have fear of some sort of persecution in their home country, so how do we get you asylum. Some people, maybe they have a green card and they want to become citizens. Or maybe they’re a citizen, but they’re wanting to marry someone abroad or bring their parents from abroad. So it’s all of these things.“

Sister Joan “Juanita” Scheller, who works with two other sisters at the immigration office at the monastery, said that having Popp in the area is extremely beneficial.

“There are many times where immigrants need the expertise of an immigration lawyer, especially if they have any past immigration problems that might need to be resolved in an immigration court,” she said. “But that meant that they have had to travel out of our area and go as far as Indianapolis, Bloomington, Louisville, to have the help of an immigration lawyer.”

So Popp coming to the area is significant, she said.

“If you think about other legal services, like family lawyers, criminal lawyers, if people couldn’t get access to one without traveling three hours, that makes it a real hardship,” Sr. Joan said. “So even though she is not here full time, she is coming here regularly, and she will take cases from here. She will be able to help those people who are eligible for immigrations benefits but just need that extra expertise of a lawyer to assist them.”

To make an appointment with Popp, call 812-323-3339. She can also conduct phone and online consultations; people can also make appointments to meet her at her Bloomington office.

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