2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Samantha Rumsey

Samantha Rumsey

Name of Host Organization: Kids in Need of Defense
City, State: Roseland, New Jersey
Issue area: Immigrant Populations, Children/Youth
Sponsors: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

The Project

Samantha built greater receptivity to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in NJ by representing unaccompanied immigrant children and providing technical assistance to NJ pro bono attorneys representing children in SIJS matters.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Despite the vulnerability of unaccompanied immigrant children, the United States does not provide them free legal counsel. This lack of representation, combined with a recent surge in children entering the US alone, has led to a dramatic increase in the need for low-cost legal resources in New Jersey. This fellowship project is important because it gives a voice to children who are frequently silenced by the legal system. Moreover, the focus on one specific type of relief - SIJS - will improve conditions in the long term for SIJS-eligible minors in New Jersey.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Samantha Rumsey has:
• Provided direct representation to thirty-three SIJS-eligible children
• Enhanced receptivity to SIJS in NJ family courts by engaging in local dialogue regarding novel and complex issues, providing technical assistance and mentorship to KIND pro bono attorneys who are representing children in SIJS matters, and supporting litigation efforts surrounding the NJ Supreme Court case, H.S.P. v. J.K..
• Expanded KIND’s collaboration with social-service providers by meeting with providers, making program summaries available to colleagues, referring clients to programs, and creating a reproductive rights and resources packet, which is now distributed to all KIND clients.
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Samantha Rumsey plans to:
• Use the expertise she gained as an Equal Justice Works Fellow to represent unaccompanied immigrant children and adults with children as a Staff Attorney/Fellow at the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Rutgers School of Law, Newark.
• Continue to collaborate with attorneys at KIND and advocates at other New Jersey non-profits and academic institutions to increase access to representation and improve conditions for immigrant children in New Jersey.

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