Photo of Eduardo Garcia

Eduardo García

  • Hosted by New Mexico Immigrant Law Center
  • Sponsored by W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Service location Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Law school University of New Mexico School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program New Mexico Immigration Corps

The Project

Eduardo is increasing access to legal services for low-income immigrants in underserved and rural communities in New Mexico through strategic collaboration with community partners.

New Mexico is a sparsely populated and extremely impoverished state and low-income immigrant families face particular hardships. They are among the poorest of the working poor and foreign-born individuals are also less likely to graduate from high school, be employed in nonservice occupations, and suffer more unemployment than native-born individuals. Moreover, many parents in immigrant families are not fluent in English, and are not familiar with their rights within American society. As a result, many immigrant parents do not take advantage of public support systems that are available to them, and they often fall victim to wage theft, consumer fraud, predatory lending or other predatory practices. To compound their problems, many immigrants in New Mexico live in communities without even one attorney. Eduardo’s project will build on the momentum of recent state-wide immigrant integration efforts and address the lack of access to legal services by representing low-income immigrants in underserved areas of New Mexico and establishing strategic partnerships across the state. Additionally, Eduardo’s project involves developing tools and programs centered on workers’ rights and working with community partners to enact municipal and county policies that are immigrant-friendly and help combat wage theft.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past year, Eduardo has:

  • Collaborated with community partners against new federal policy with proposed changes to the public charge rule in immigration policy
  • Built a relationship with the University of New Mexico School of Law clinic and other community partners in creating and running a monthly wage theft clinic and workshop.
  • Worked with community partners to enact immigrant-friendly municipal policies and policies to combat wage theft
  • Developed pro se tools to empower workers to fight against wage theft and recover unpaid wages
  • Expanded legal services in rural areas of New Mexico

New Mexico Immigration Corps Overview

From 2016 to 2020, the New Mexico Immigration Corps deployed lawyers and paralegals to provide critically needed legal aid to immigrant children and families throughout New Mexico. A primary goal of the program was to create a pipeline of new and prospective lawyers from the immigrant community and communities of color into the public interest sector in New Mexico.

Throughout the four-year program, Fellows partnered with public interest programs at the University of New Mexico School of Law to create opportunities for law students interested in working with immigrant populations; collaborated to increase the representation of historically marginalized individuals in the legal profession; coordinated with pro bono attorneys interested in supporting low-income immigrants; and worked with community organizations to provide holistic services and support.

Next Steps

In the next year, Eduardo plans to:

  • Streamline and improve monthly wage theft clinic with community partners
  • Expand number of clients and types of immigration cases
  • Create and finalize educational and awareness materials to combat notario (notary public) fraud and other predatory practices

Media

Establishing a Pipeline of Public Interest Attorneys in New Mexico to Support Immigrant Families

I have grown a lot, professionally and personally, as a result of this Fellowship. A two-year Fellowship really prepares you as an attorney while giving you time to carefully plan your next move after the fellowship ends. Moreover, I felt I had the support of both Equal Justice Works and my host organization to succeed in my Fellowship or if anything came up.

Eduardo García /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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