Chelsea Sachau

  • Hosted by Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project
  • Sponsored by State Farm
  • Service location Florence, Arizona
  • Law school University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Chelsea engages in targeted legal responses to due-to-process violations at the Arizona-Mexico border. She works by offering direct representation and by creating and implementing a volunteer program to support asylum-seekers through the increasingly critical initial interview stage.

Chelsea’s project seeks to increase the ability of migrants fleeing persecution and arriving at the southern Arizona border to access the protection afforded to them under U.S. immigration laws. Because U.S. border policies constrict the grounds on which migrants fleeing persecution can obtain protection in the U.S. and minimize migrants’ opportunities to tell their story, the role of legal service providers along the border is now more pivotal than ever. While access to process (to even requesting asylum) and access to counsel have always been tenuous, recent border policies under the guise of the pandemic have made it nearly impossible for people fleeing persecution to enter the U.S. for access to safety and protection. Chelsea’s project supports the Florence Project’s Border Action Team in providing asylum seekers with accurate, updated information to understand the nuances of the asylum process and current border policies. Chelsea’s project also addresses the various procedural components at the border that frequently operate to deprive migrants of a chance to tell their stories.

Chelsea carries with her the experiences of her grandmother (a Holocaust survivor) and her mother-in-law (a Maya former asylee) as she works to provide similar opportunities for others fleeing persecution.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Chelsea has:

  • Successfully advocated with the Florence Project’s Border Action Team for over 2,000 asylum seekers to be excepted from the CDC Order under Title 42 (which has kept the border closed since March 2020) and processed into the U.S. by presenting at the Nogales Port of Entry between March-August 2021.
  • Represented a family who was removed in absentia under the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) policy in appealing their case at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) level.
  • Worked with the Florence Project’s Border Action Team to successfully help two mothers who had just given birth and who were facing family separation from their medically vulnerable U.S. citizen newborns. Prevented them from being expelled back to Mexico under the Title 42 CDC Order, and instead, remain with their newborns in the U.S. and continue their asylum cases.

Next Steps

In the next year, Chelsea plans to:

  • Pursue creative avenues to help asylum seekers stuck at the Arizona-Mexico border access the asylum process in light of restrictive border policies such as, but not limited to, Title 42.
  • Continue local, regional, and national advocacy and continue coalition building.
  • Provide direct representation on at least one asylum merits case.


The Biden administration tries again to end 'Remain in Mexico'

Migrants in Nogales seek entry through exemption as pandemic-era restrictions drag on

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Carrillo Family Feature

Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Chelsea Feature

Without the asylum process, I would not have the loving and remarkable family that I am blessed to have today.

Chelsea Sachau /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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