Amelia Vangellow-Biramian

  • Hosted by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  • Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, Reed Smith LLP
  • Service location Roseland, New Jersey
  • Law school Rutgers School of Law - Camden
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Amelia provided direct legal representation to children in immigration proceedings and coordinated outreach targeting their specialized healthcare and social service needs.

Less than 15% of unaccompanied children in federal removal proceedings in New Jersey have legal representation. Children who appear alone in immigration court are five times more likely to be ordered removed. Many of these children have experienced trauma, often the cause of their flight to the U.S., and present unique health needs. However, these children face barriers to obtaining healthcare and providers may lack the training in issues they face, leading to disengagement by the child and caregiver. Amelia’s project enabled healthcare providers to address a child’s barriers to healthcare while ensuring that the child received legal representation.

Amelia grew up hearing the stories of her great-grandfather, who immigrated unaccompanied to the U.S. as a 12-year-old child from Greece. Today children fleeing trauma face a much more complex and adversarial system than prior generations did. Amelia wants to stand by these children and ensure that their voices are heard.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Amelia:

  • Provided full representation to 35 children in their immigration proceedings, including applications for asylum, SIJS, U-Visas, permanent residency, and employment authorization, as well as immigration court;
  • Presented 15 workshops for close to 400 medical and social service providers on a variety of topics including notario fraud, immigrant eligibility for public benefits, educational rights of immigrant students, immigration legal relief for children, among others;
  • Collaborated with 57 community providers to improve access to services for immigrant children while strengthening referral partnerships;
  • Provided referrals to 75 clients for social services and legal services;
  • Advocated against the wrongful Medicaid denials of children with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in New Jersey.

Next Steps

After completing her EJW Fellowship with KIND, Amelia will join South Jersey Legal Services as a Staff Attorney in their public benefits unit.

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