Photo of Heidi Gonzalez

Heidi Gonzalez

  • Hosted by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  • Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, Reed Smith LLP
  • Service location San Francisco, California
  • Law school Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Heidi (she/her/hers) will aim to strengthen infrastructure to serve indigenous unaccompanied immigrant children (UC) in the San Francisco Bay Area through 1) direct representation, 2) mentoring and training law students at Golden Gate University (GGU), and 3) prioritizing trauma-informed and culturally responsive programming.

Increasing numbers of indigenous unaccompanied immigrant children have traveled to the U.S. seeking safety, but many are left without legal representation as there is no right to a government-provided attorney in immigration proceedings. Further, evening law students have limited clinical opportunities, and these opportunities strengthen their candidacy for future public interest opportunities. This project will bridge the legal representation for indigenous UCs whilst expanding the case capacity at GGU’s evening immigration clinic, thus increasing public interest opportunities for GGU students.

Heidi is passionate about immigration law because, as a daughter of immigrants, she deeply understands the importance of advocating for those who seek a better life in the U.S. In addition, by furthering equity in the legal profession, she will open doors for other minorities, so that they too can have the opportunity to make a difference in their communities.

Fellowship Plans

Heidi will represent UCs before state court, immigration court, and immigration agencies. Further, Heidi’s Fellowship project will bridge the representation gap for indigenous UCs by expanding the case capacity at GGU’s Immigration Clinic through training future advocates and pro bono attorneys in trauma-informed and culturally responsive lawyering. The project will also introduce representation with an eye toward language access and cultural competency for indigenous populations. GGU students will have the chance to intensively work on cases throughout the school semester, focusing on one case at a time and identify needs for clients and student trainings. This partnership will strengthen the case capacity and expertise at GGU’s Immigration Clinic and help build a pipeline to social justice careers for GGU students who will develop legal and non-legal skills to work with UCs.

Representing unaccompanied children is my passion because, while I can’t undo the trauma they’ve suffered, I can redress the harms by dedicating my career to advocating for their rights. Further, as a first-generation student, one of my forefront goals is to increase opportunities for students who come after me. This project allows me to see both of my goals come to fruition.

Heidi Gonzalez /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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