2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Ashley LaRiccia

Ashley LaRiccia

Name of Host Organization: Lutheran Services of Georgia
City, State: Atlanta, Georgia
Issue area: Immigrant Populations, Children/Youth
Sponsors: DuPont; McGuire Woods LLP

The Project

Ashley LaRiccia advocated for unaccompanied immigrant children and their families at Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) by providing legal representation and developing a pro bono network to secure relief from deportation and unite families.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
In 2014, over 50,000 unaccompanied children from Central American were apprehended at the Mexico-USA border. Many of these children are escaping extreme violence in their home countries. There remains an overwhelming need for low-cost and pro bono legal representation for these children who continue to seek refuge and reunite with families by taking the risky journey through the southern border each and every day. Approximately two-thirds of children are unrepresented and without access to counsel. These children are forced to represent themselves in their removal proceedings. In December of 2014, the Department of State introduced a new in-country refugee processing program, the Central American Minors Family Reunification Program, to help parents with certain types of legal status reunite with children living in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. There is a large demand for this service in the Atlanta area, from parents from all over the region who need the assistance of a designated Refugee Resettlement Agency, like Ashley’s host organization to gain access to the important program.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Ashley has:
• Provided legal referrals and brief advice to over 80 immigrants.
• Secured special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) for two children facing removal proceedings, including one of the first one-parent SIJS cases in the state of Georgia
• Secured asylum for a deaf minor from Central America.
• Provided access for nineteen families to the Central American Minors Family Reunification Program
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Ashley plans to:
• Relocate and start a new job in Baltimore, Maryland with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).
• Ashley will be providing direct legal representation to unaccompanied children across the state Maryland in her new position with KIND.
• Continue to advocate for children in removal proceedings in Atlanta and work to bring further attention to unique challenges children and practitioners face in the Atlanta area.

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