2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Renee Schomp

Renee Schomp

Name of Host Organization: OneJustice
City, State: San Francisco, California
Issue area: Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: Fenwick & West LLP

The Project

Renée will connect rural California immigrants in need of immigration legal assistance with Bay Area-based pro bono attorneys through virtual technology and on-the-ground support.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
California has the largest immigrant population of the 50 states at 10.3 million and counting. By 2012, it had welcomed 1.4 million new immigrants in the preceding decade – more than any other state. California is currently home to approximately 2.6 million undocumented immigrants, and most immigrant communities – particularly those in rural areas – lack access to affordable legal resources. Given that 90 percent of immigrants who lack legal representation in removal proceedings are deported, while only 50 percent of those with representation suffer the same fate, the inability of rural immigrant communities to access affordable legal help means they are at great risk of being deported. Furthermore, federal programs exist – some announced as recently as December 2014 – that could provide protection from deportation to many immigrants in rural California. An attorney’s assistance, however, is essential to ensuring these Californians get the protection they deserve. Renée’s project targets three rural California counties – San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced – where the ratio of undocumented immigrants to lawyers is especially high. In just these three counties there are 115,000 undocumented immigrants, many living well below the poverty line.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Renée is the right person for the project because:
• She has extensive experience connecting isolated communities with pro bono assistance
• She grew up in rural California and already works in numerous rural California communities, including her project’s three target counties
• She has long been committed to protecting the rights of immigrants as a vital need within California communities
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Renée will:
• Conduct a comprehensive immigrant needs assessment in her project’s three target counties
• Develop and implement a virtual technology infrastructure to connect Bay Area pro bono attorneys with rural clients
• Hold pro bono-staffed legal clinics to identify immigration cases in need of pro bono representation

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