2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Katherine Soltis

Katherine Soltis

Name of Host Organization: Ayuda
City, State: Falls Church, Virginia
Issue area: Immigrant Populations - Trafficking/Slavery
Sponsors: Verizon Wireless; DLA Piper

The Project

Katherine will provide comprehensive legal services to human trafficking victims in Virginia through direct immigration representation, community outreach, and referrals for civil legal remedies.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Immigrant victims of human trafficking face unique challenges in obtaining legal and social assistance. Many victims are unable to speak English, are unaware of available services and their rights, or are reluctant to report their traffickers due to the fear of deportation. Additionally, Virginia has one of the highest reported numbers of trafficking victims in the country. Some organizations in Virginia provide trafficking-related immigration services; however they either operate on a pro bono model or focus on a subset of victims, such as women. This leaves many victims without linguistically and culturally appropriate representation in immigration matters. The Trafficking Project will help address the unmet demand for trafficking services in Virginia by representing male and female immigrant victims in legal proceedings to access their rights and protections.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Katherine is the right person for the project because:
• She has a strong and demonstrated commitment to Latin American social justice and immigrants’ rights
• She has extensive experience representing labor-trafficked domestic workers in Boston
• She speaks Spanish and Portuguese
• She has helped represent asylum-seekers from several countries around the world and has provided legal assistance to detained women and children refugees in South Texas
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Katherine will:
• Establish connections with local service providers, legal organizations, and law enforcement officials and speak with them about the project
• Develop presentation materials and translate into other languages; begin giving presentations at immigrant community centers
• Begin representing 5–7 clients in immigration matters
• Research data tracking systems to monitor demographics of victims and their needs

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