2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Jordan Cunnings

Jordan Cunnings

Name of Host Organization: Public Counsel
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Immigrant Populations, Family Law
Sponsors: ALM

The Project

Jordan will protect immigrant families in the Los Angeles area by representing parents in immigration detention and collaborating with lawyers representing immigrant parents in dependency proceedings.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
When immigrant parents are placed in removal proceedings, family separation is often inevitable, especially when parents are placed in immigration detention. Although recent federal and California laws seek to address the separation of immigrant families, detained parents remain uniquely vulnerable. Detained parents continue to face significant barriers when fighting their immigration cases and working to keep their families together. Most detained parents cannot afford immigration counsel and must represent themselves, a nearly impossible task. Additionally, minimal support exists for detained parents whose children have been placed in the dependency system, especially because of the difficulty these parents have with effectively participating in dependency court proceedings. Jordan’s project will address the overlap of the removal and dependency systems by representing detained parents facing removal and ensuring their participation in ongoing dependency court proceedings.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Jordan is the right person for the project because:
• She has worked with immigrants in detention throughout the country, and is passionate about the rights of immigrant families
• As a graduate of a local law school, she has connections to local advocacy groups and organizations with whom she can collaborate
• She has worked in the area of immigrant rights since college and speaks fluent Spanish
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Jordan will:
• Interview parents in Los Angeles area detention centers to identify barriers to family reunification
• Provide a parent-specific legal orientation program in area detention centers
• Represent detained parents in removal proceedings
• Reach out to local dependency attorneys to begin dialogue on collaboration and future trainings

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