Isabel Abreu

  • Hosted by HIAS Pennsylvania
  • Sponsored by Covington & Burling LLP, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Service location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Law school University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Isabel provides legal advocacy and conducts outreach to low-income immigrant survivors of domestic violence in underserved outlying Pennsylvania counties.

Lack of stable immigration status is a frequent and often insurmountable barrier to leaving an abusive relationship for many survivors of domestic violence. Pathways to stable immigration status exist that enable survivors to seek out safety and self-sufficiency away from their abusers. However, 30% of Pennsylvania’s immigrants live in counties where there are almost no affordable immigration legal service providers. This means that many survivors and their advocates are unaware of these pathways or have no way to secure them.

Highlights to Date

In the first year, Isabel has:

  • Provided immigration representation to 54 survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault and their family members;
  • Provided brief legal orientations to an additional 40 immigrants regarding their rights and eligibility for relief based on domestic violence;
  • Created educational materials for social service providers so that they can more effectively support immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault; and
  • Designed and implemented 4 pro bono projects that have expanded the impact of her project.

What’s Next

In the next year, Isabel plans to:

  • Continue to connect with social service and community based organizations and regional initiatives to identify individuals in need of services and advocate on their behalf;
  • Continue to provide legal consultations and direct representation to survivors; and
  • Continue to identify U visa certification policies in area police departments and district attorney’s offices.

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