2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Teresa Lee

Teresa Lee

Name of Host Organization: Kids in Need of Defense
City, State: Washington, District of Columbia
Issue area: Immigrant Populations, Children/Youth
Sponsors: The Microsoft Corporation; Winston & Strawn LLP

The Project

Teresa will provide direct immigration legal representation, outreach, and advocacy on behalf of released unaccompanied minors in the Washington, DC metropolitan area who are victims of severe forms of violence, including intra-family violence, community violence, sexual violence, and trafficking.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) states that, in 2014 alone, more than 8,000 unaccompanied minors were released to their sponsors living in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. High percentages of these children have experienced community violence by armed criminal cartels or gangs or have experienced abuse or violence within their own homes. Furthermore, the most vulnerable of these children, those having experienced severe forms of violence or trafficking, are not always properly identified or connected with appropriate social service providers. A streamlined referral and information-sharing process is required in order to better address the mental health and social needs of these recently arrived survivors of violence.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Teresa is the right person for the project because:
• She will draw on her experience working with immigrant children at Kids in Need of Defense
• As a Northern Virginia native, Teresa has a special understanding of, and commitment to, the immigrant population in the target community
• Throughout law school, she focused her coursework and internship opportunities on immigration and family law, which will be vital for her fellowship project
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Teresa will:
• Identify unaccompanied minors who have been victims of severe forms of violence for direct representation
• Begin outreach to non-profits, social service agencies, and schools on the need for comprehensive services and build connections with local trafficking-related organizations to identify child trafficking victims
• Create a one-page, child-friendly fact sheet on the SIJS process for dissemination to families involved in their children’s cases and to the wider community

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