2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Megan Sheffield

Megan Sheffield

Name of Host Organization: Equal Justice Center
City, State: Austin, Texas
Issue area: Immigrant Populations, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Megan will extend new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legal assistance initiative to reach remote clients in Central, North, and Northwest Texas; build forward-looking legal bridge for clients to access comprehensive immigration reform.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provides important immigration relief to qualifying undocumented youth, including protection from deportation and work authorization. With DACA, these youth are better protected from workplace abuses and have improved access higher education. DACA became available in 2012, but there are still an estimated 48,000 eligible Texans who have not yet applied. One of the major barriers to applying for DACA is the lack of legal assistance. This project will provide DACA outreach and legal services in remote areas of Texas, where nearly 16,400 DACA-eligible youth remain un-served. Not only will this project expand DACA services, but it will also lay groundwork to prepare for impending immigration reform opportunities. This fellowship will provide community education on the progress of immigration reform, help vulnerable communities to avoid fraud and abuse by unscrupulous notarios, and build infrastructure to support widespread legal services for those who may benefit from immigration opportunities that become available.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Megan is the right person for this project because:
• Throughout law school, she spent countless hours working on pro bono projects for immigrants and children, including organizing and implementing 14 assisted pro se DACA clinics in the Austin area and South Texas
• She has gained valuable immigration experience through the UT Law Immigration Clinic, summer internships doing immigration legal work and post-graduate work with a non-profit immigration organization
• She has developed a network of experienced immigration experts and community organizers who share her passion and will provide support for this important project
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Megan will:
• Lay the groundwork for DACA clinics in rural Texas
• Review DACA clinic models implemented by other organizations, refine the Equal Justice Center model, and create a network of partners in the target communities
• Conduct community education and outreach in these under-served areas, organize and execute assisted pro se clinics, and provide direct representation to DACA clients
• Closely follow legislative and policy developments as we prepare for the coming wave of immigration reform

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