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Misha Seay

2014, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Misha Seay

Misha Seay

Name of Host Organization: Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
City, State: East Palo Alto, California
Issue area: Children/Youth, Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

The Project

Misha will provide legal representation to disadvantaged immigrant youth in East Palo Alto (EPA), California, and neighboring communities and create a special juvenile docket to increase access to counsel at the local immigration court.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Immigrant youth growing up in EPA face myriad challenges to becoming successful and integrated members of society. In a city that is predominantly Latino and which suffers from high poverty and crime rates, EPA’s youth are more likely to come from abusive homes, be victims of violent crime, and be racially profiled. Any contact with law enforcement increases the risk of being referred to immigration authorities for deportation. Yet many youth placed in removal proceedings go without legal counsel, raising the likelihood that they will be deported unfairly and fail to obtain the justice they deserve. There is no program in place at the local immigration court to prevent this from happening. Moreover, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto is the only legal service provider in Silicon Valley that represents immigrant youth in removal proceedings, yet it has struggled to meet the growing demand for help.
The Right Person For This Project
Misha is the right person for the project because:
• She is fluent in Spanish and has experience providing direct representation to immigrants in many different types of cases
• She has honed her legal skills, and the totality of her experiences has taught her the communication skills and cultural sensitivity needed to work with people from underserved communities
• She recently clerked at the San Francisco Immigration Court for two years, and developed a strong foundation in immigration law and now has an excellent understanding of the deportation process
• She has seen the negative consequences that result from the lack of legal representation in the removal process, and her personal relationships with the judges and administrators at the San Francisco Immigration Court make her uniquely suited to bring a new juvenile docket at the court to fruition
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Misha will:
• Provide direct legal assistance and representation to at least 20 immigrant youth in EPA and surrounding communities
• Begin collaborating with the San Francisco Immigration Court and other legal service providers in the Bay Area to create a special juvenile docket for youth in removal proceedings
• Build new relationships and conduct outreach to family law attorneys, law enforcement, and social service providers to ensure my clients’ full range of legal and non-legal needs are being met