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Eleni Bakst

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Eleni Bakst

Eleni Bakst

Name of Host Organization: Human Rights First
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: The Ottinger Foundation

The Project

Develop a national advocacy platform of health and legal experts and establish coordinated medical-legal services for unaccompanied children and families in Long Island, NY.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Over the past few years, many unaccompanied children and families from Central America have been placed in detention facilities throughout the United States, despite evidence that incarceration is harmful to children’s health and development. By engaging medical and mental health professionals, the project will raise awareness of this systemic problem, as well as provide case support and expand counsel for children.
The Right Person For This Project
Eleni is the right person for the project because:
• She has worked with immigrant populations for several years in various contexts, including as an ESL instructor and advocate
• During law school, she gained significant experience conducting research, strategic policy analysis, and advocacy through her internships with the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations, and participation in Duke Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Eleni will:
• Conduct outreach to medical and mental health professionals in preparation for a national convening to address issues such as best practices for working with children and families, separation of mothers and children at the border, and protection options
• Plan additional advocacy efforts, including visits to detention centers, meetings with Congressional and agency representatives, and strategic media engagement
• Coordinate with potential partners toward the establishment of a medical-legal partnership on Long Island
• Recruit pro bono attorneys to take cases through the medical-legal partnership and develop a tailored pro bono training curriculum focused on representing children and families