2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Lydia Edwards

Lydia Edwards

Name of Host Organization: Greater Legal Services
City, State: Boston, Massachusetts
Issue area: Immigrant Populations - Trafficking/Slavery, Immigrant Populations/Minorities Domestic Violence
Sponsors: McDermott Will & Emery LLP

The Project

Lydia advocated for and represented labor-trafficked domestic workers who were disproportionately immigrant women of color, and provided legal resources for both immigration and civil remedies to prevent continued abuse through sustainable work.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Domestic workers are the second largest population being trafficked into the United States, yet few resources are dedicated to their representation. They are often isolated and easily hidden by their employers. When they come forward, the legal services for immigration and wages are bifurcated. This fellowship project seeks to create a comprehensive representation model where a trafficked domestic worker can be represented for her U or T visa and also her back wages or other civil remedies. This project will also create legal resources to assist current cooperatives and to help workers create cooperatives to ensure workers can have reasonable paid work regardless of their immigration status.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Lydia Edwards has:
• Secured immigration document for trafficking survivors
• Participated in a care democracy network to create cooperatives
• Advocated for domestic workers and trafficking survivors at various state agencies and community gatherings
• Named Bostonian of the Year “Lawyer with the Heart of an Activist” by Boston Globe Magazine
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Lydia Edwards plans to:
• Begin in a position with the new Department on Housing Stability
• Volunteer in labor trafficking relief efforts to continue to aid domestic workers
• Mentor and train newer attorney interested in the solidarity economy and creating worker cooperatives

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