Photo of Erika Asgeirsson

Erika Asgeirsson

  • Hosted by National Immigrant Justice Center
  • Sponsored by U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Human Trafficking and Victim’s Rights Enforcement
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Crime Victims Justice Corps

The Project

Immigrant trafficking survivors in Chicago face unique challenges and seemingly insurmountable barriers to accessing justice, including no right to appointed counsel in immigration proceedings, finite legal knowledge, and limited, if any, English. Yet the greatest challenge most survivors face is that their suffering remains unrecognized because of the difficulty of self-identifying and the fear of disclosing trauma. The insufficient legal resources and unsystematic approach to identifying survivors amplifies this crisis in Illinois, and the time-intensive nature of trafficking cases, which require law enforcement advocacy, asserting crime victims’ rights, liaising with social service providers, and addressing complex legal issues, requires extensive resources that many legal agencies do not have.

Erika will help fill this urgent need so that immigrant trafficking survivors receive legal representation and become empowered to rebuild their lives.

Fellowship Plans

As a Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow, Erika will provide culturally competent, trauma-informed legal services to immigrant survivors of human trafficking, including direct representation of survivors seeking immigration remedies, referrals to wraparound legal and non-legal services, and victims’ rights advocacy in any related criminal investigation or proceedings. She will also conduct outreach and education for community stakeholders and social service, medical, and faith-based organizations to improve their ability to identify survivors of human trafficking, develop a protocol to refer survivors for legal representation, and increase their knowledge of crime victims’ rights.

Erika brings to the Fellowship her background in hate crime policy and experience working in developing countries. In her previous Fellowship, she advocated for policies to protect and empower hate crime victims and was especially concerned with the challenges victims faced in reporting to law enforcement. These same dynamics impact if and how trafficking survivors report these crimes to law enforcement, and this experience enables Erika to effectively advocate for her client’s rights as they engage with law enforcement. In addition, her experience abroad—as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso and as a legal intern with a child justice organization in Sierra Leone—gives her a unique understanding of the challenges her clients faced in their home countries.

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