2003 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Melanie Orhant

Melanie Orhant

Name of Host Organization: Ayuda, Inc.
City, State: Washington, DC
Issue area: Immigrant Populations/Minorities, Human Rights
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Melanie Orhant is working with her host organization, Ayuda, Inc., to develop the Program to Assist Trafficked Individuals’ Rights and Needs. Ayuda’s mission is to advocate for and defend the legal and human rights of low-income Latino and other immigrant communities in Washington, DC.

Melanie provides direct legal services for people trafficked into the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. These legal services include assistance for the newly created T and U non-immigrant visas, asylum, wage and hour claims, work authorization and trial preparation in criminal cases against traffickers. Melanie also recruits, trains and assists pro bono attorneys in trafficking cases, and she performs outreach to educate law enforcement and social service and religious organizations.

Prior to law school, Melanie was Co-Director of the Human Trafficking Program at Global Survival Network (GSN) in Washington, DC, where she led an investigation of the trafficking of people into the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and co-authored a report on the findings. Before working at GSN, she was a founding member of Action for Reach Out, Hong Kong’s leading support and advocacy organization for women working in the sex industry. She has been a consultant on the issue of trafficking for a number of national and international organizations and has presented her work at national and international conferences. Melanie is a founding member of the Freedom Network (USA): To Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons and a board member of Different Avenues, a Washington, DC-based organization that works with young people who live and survive on the streets.

The Inspiration

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