2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Jason Ortega

Jason Ortega

Name of Host Organization: Los Angeles LGBT Center
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Immigrant Populations, Gay/Lesbian Rights
Sponsors: Apple Inc.; O’Melveny & Myers LLP

The Project

Jason provided legal representation and outreach to undocumented LGBT persons facing persecution and torture, and seeking protection under asylum, withholding of removal, and the Convention Against Torture.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Currently, 78 countries criminalize homosexuality. Elsewhere, country reports tell of rape, beatings, and the murder of LGBT persons by police and private citizens alike. Fearing for their safety, many LGBT refugees flee to the United States. Unaware of the protections available and unable to find assistance, they fail to apply for asylum in time. As a result, LGBT persons are deported back to countries where they are subsequently persecuted, in some cases by police officers and within days of their return.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Jason has:
• Provided full representation in seeking asylum (or related persecution and torture protections) in both affirmative interviews and defensive court proceedings for over 40 individual clients
• Provided technical support and training to pro bono attorneys to increase the number of advocates and collective knowledge of these issues
• Presented to over 400 people about violence experienced by immigrant clients accessing non-legal services
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Jason will:
• Work with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to apply for grant funding to continue this important work
• Continue to advocate for LGBT communities seeking asylum and other forms of relief from the persecution they face in their home countries

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