Jazmin Irazoqui-Ruiz

The Project

Jazmin is a Senior Attorney at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC), where she leads the economic justice and policy team. In this role, Jazmin provides education, consultations, pro se assistance, and direct representation to immigrants navigating the federal, state, and local business, tax, and licensure systems of entrepreneurship.

In December 2017, Jazmin became the first DACAmented attorney admitted to the New Mexico State Bar. This accomplishment resulted from her leveraging community organizing principles with creative lawyering to persuade the New Mexico Supreme Court to create a process for admitting DACAmented bar applicants in New Mexico. The lived experience of growing up undocumented and in a mixed-immigration status family was not easy but it showed her that even in systems of oppression, communities are resilient and find creative ways to survive. Jazmin is the right fit for the EJW Disaster Resilience Fellowship because she will apply this same creativity in her work as an attorney and policy advocate to build community power and let those directly impacted lead the work.

Fellowship Plans

Jazmin’s project aims to remove barriers to economic mobility of immigrant communities through education, direct representation, community organizing, movement lawyering, coalition building, and policy advocacy. Among other community coalitions and partners, Jazmin will work closely with the Color Theory Collaborative, which supports low-income, marginalized entrepreneurs and their families, by employing core strategies from partner organizations to develop innovative programs resulting in greater opportunity and economic equity for entrepreneurs. Moreover, the Color Theory partners align with a core mission of bridging identified systemic gaps to build an ecosystem of support to lift families out of poverty.

The Project

Anna is on the Asylum and Detention team at New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC). Their services include helping complete and submit 589s, conducting outreach at New Mexico’s detention centers, and directly representing clients most in need of representation in their asylum cases, bond, or parole.

COVID-19 is ongoing, and many people remain detained in centers that are neither safe nor sanitized. The project helps asylum seekers in detention get released and into safe spaces with friends and family.

Being a first-generation American from a mixed-status family, Anna has always felt a responsibility for her community. New Mexico has provided many opportunities for her family, and Anna feels a tremendous responsibility to give back to the community and state that has provided so many opportunities. This Fellowship has provided Anna with the opportunity to give back and help others.

Media

Responding to COVID-19’s Impact in Immigration Detention Facilities

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

The Project

Jessica’s project provides culturally competent, trauma-informed, holistic direct legal services to immigrants in New Mexico facing legal barriers due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The project will provide holistic representation to low-income immigrants living in New Mexico due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Fellowship Highlights

Jessica’s parents and husband are immigrants. She has watched them work hard to create a better world for their family. The immigration system in the US is complex, and when her husband became a permanent resident, they struggled tremendously to navigate the system. Jessica went to law school to become an immigration attorney to help guide people through the system.

The Project

Sophia is a Senior Attorney at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) where she leads the asylum and detention team. In this role, Sophia provides consultations, pro se assistance, and direct representation to noncitizens in immigration detention and non-detained asylum seekers while also participating in impact litigation. Sophia additionally engages in community organizing, movement lawyering, and advocacy to enact policies and legislation which supports immigrant communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally impacted immigrants, especially those in immigration detention. Studies have shown COVID-19 spreads faster in carceral settings, which are plagued by wholly inadequate medical care. The combination of these things have proven lethal for immigrants in detention, making representation of them all the more necessary to ensure their release from custody. For non-detained immigrants, who are often essential workers, access to medical care is hampered by the lack of immigration status, language and cultural barriers, and geography. This project addresses those disparities and seeks to close the gap in accessing basic services by way of achieving lawful immigration status, referrals to services, and advocacy.

Fellowship Plans

Sophia’s motivation for pursuing public interest work, particularly in the immigration space, is deeply personal and political. She is incredibly privileged to have had access to higher education and law school despite economic hardship, and the familial support to pursue a career in public service. Due to systemic inequalities and racism, her immigrant clients are not afforded these privileges. Using the privilege of her law license, she wants to ensure that clients and immigrant communities have access to not only necessities, but the ability to live and thrive with dignity and abundance.

Media

Responding to COVID-19’s Impact in Immigration Detention Facilities

Meet the Student Fellows in the 2022 Disaster Resilience Program

The Project

Taylor is on the Asylum and Detention team at New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) as their staff attorney. Their services include helping complete and submit 589’s, doing outreach at New Mexico’s detention centers, and directly representing clients most in need of representation in their asylum cases, bond or parole.

COVID-19 is ongoing, and many people are detained in centers that are neither safe nor sanitized. The project helps asylum seekers in detention get released and into safe spaces with friends and family.

Fellowship Highlights

Public interest work is the only kind of work Taylor hopes to do. It is important to her to use her privilege to be an agent of change in the community. This Fellowship program is a perfect fit for Taylor because it allows her to use all of her skills and become part of a greater team that serves the community.

Media

Responding to COVID-19’s Impact in Immigration Detention Facilities

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

The Project

Lizdebeth’s Fellowship will provide holistic legal services to low-income immigrant families impacted by COVID-19. Lizdebeth aims to build disaster resilience capacity in New Mexico’s nonprofit sector through strategic collaboration with key stakeholders, community partners, outreach, and training.

There is a need to increase access to legal services and resources for low-income immigrants in New Mexico. Lizdebeth’s work will reduce the economic hardship caused by COVID-19 for low-income immigrants and will facilitate recovery from it.

Fellowship Plans

The project will promote self-sufficiency and economic mobility of immigrants impacted economically by the pandemic through advocacy. As an immigrant herself, Lizdebeth knows first-hand the hardships that immigrants in New Mexico face. Her lived experiences with some of these same issues have provided her a different lens from which to view the work and the law, and this will aid her in being the best advocate that she can be for her community.

The Project

Kate will work to eliminate or mitigate barriers to critical programs, services, and housing for people with disabilities in Louisiana who have been adversely impacted by disasters.

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida, many Louisianans with disabilities are facing housing insecurity or eviction, being denied appropriate services or accommodations, or are facing discrimination based on their disabilities.

As a public defender, Kate witnessed her clients with disabilities get stuck in a revolving door of system-involvement as their basic needs remained ignored and their rights denied both inside and outside of the criminal legal system. This cycle was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly frequent and powerful storms that batter Louisiana, all of which multiplied the poverty and stress of my most vulnerable clients. The Disaster Resilience Program at Equal Justice Works gives Kate an opportunity to directly address the needs of Louisianans with disabilities in the wake of these disasters and to build resilience moving forward.

Fellowship Plans

While much of Kate’s work will be immediately serving those impacted by COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida, she will also focus on expanding stakeholder relationships and cultivating partnerships among the disaster legal community, service providers, and community social services providers. She will strategize, plan, and conduct training and outreach to communities and organizations to build disaster resilience moving forward. Kate will share information and resources for disaster survivors and attorneys supporting communities affected by disasters.

The Project

Chris will help achieve justice for low-income individuals and families, primarily on the Westbank of the greater New Orleans region. His work will prevent housing instability caused by evictions by defending the legal rights of clients through legal aid, advocacy, and community education. Additionally, Chris will address the housing needs of low-income individuals and families by assisting with legal assistance, advocacy, and community education with addressing habitability issues caused by natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida and/or landlord neglect.

Through the advocacy of legal rights and community education outreach, our project will improve housing stability within the New Orleans region. Housing stability will help our area better respond, react and cope with disasters and the stresses caused by them.

Fellowship Plans

Chris considers himself blessed to have the opportunity to work for the people in his community who need assistance the most. There are few positions in his field that would have allowed him to work directly with his clients and never worry about collecting a fee. Legal aid and public interest victories provide him with the most fantastic sense of purpose.

Media

Representing Tenants in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster

The Project

Maria assisted individuals affected by disasters with their immigration legal needs.

Texas is home to more than 4.2 million immigrants. At least 1.4 million of those immigrants live in the Houston metropolitan area. During disasters, the immigrant population is usually disproportionally affected. Maria’s Fellowship project aimed to ensure that immigrants living in the Harris County area had access to immigration legal services to assist them in the disaster recovery and preparedness process.

Maria comes from an immigrant family. The drive for her to advocate for the immigrant population comes from watching the struggles faced daily by her family and community.

Fellowship Plans

To address the disaster recovery and preparedness needs of the immigrant community in Houston, Maria’s project had four components: (1) community outreach and legal education, (2) legal screening and intake, (3) individual representation, and (4) training and referral with legal and social services providers.

Maria previously served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Disaster Recovery Legal Corps.

Media

Meet the 2021 Class of Disaster Resilience Program Student Fellows

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The Project

Stephanie worked to remedy discriminatory practices, throughout the preparedness, response, and recovery phases of disasters and emergencies, which unlawfully deny or create unreasonable barriers for individuals with disabilities in accessing and providing an equitable opportunity of benefiting from disaster and emergency services.

Inequities experienced and seen during and after a disaster are a direct correlation to marginalized and vulnerable populations not accounted for in preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts. All entities providing resources and services to prepare, respond and recover must ensure the needs of individuals with disabilities are accounted for, as well as accommodated to ensure an equitable opportunity to benefit from all programs and activities.

Fellowship Highlights

Stephanie provided direct services and resources to individuals with disabilities across the state who experienced discriminatory practices in disaster and emergency services. She educated the legal community about the legal issues specific to individuals with disabilities throughout all phases of disasters and emergencies. Stephanie also pursued impact litigation based on systemic issues the disability community faces in disaster and emergencies.

Stephanie previously served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Disaster Recovery Legal Corps, where she provided direct legal services for two years and saw first-hand the inequities experienced by individuals with disabilities. Disparities which exist prior to a disaster and emergency, are exacerbated by our failure to ensure equitable opportunities to prepare, survive, and recover from any tragedy.  Stephanie believes equitable opportunities are possible and will work to safeguard nondiscriminatory processes and mechanisms for marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Media

Civil Rights and Protections During the Federal Response to Hurricanes Harvey and María

Disaster-Related Trauma: Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Resilience

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Disability Rights: Equal Access After a Disaster

New law requires wellness checks during crises for the medically fragile who depend on power

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