Jake Kmiech

The Project

Jake will partner with his host organization, CASA, inc. to proudly represent immigrant communities facing housing instability throughout Maryland, ensuring they have access to safe housing and justice.

Housing instability in Maryland has reached a crescendo. Eviction rates and rents have risen hand-in-hand while housing conditions often have not, burdening low-income families already struggling to keep a safe roof over their heads. Housing instability specifically has a disproportionate impact on members of Maryland’s low-income immigrant community, who have unequal access to remedies under Maryland’s legal system due to language and cost barriers.

Fellowship Plans

Jake will provide direct and full legal services to tenants facing eviction, inhumane and unsafe property conditions, wrongful detainer suits, and other legal issues related to housing security. From initial interviews to trial, Jake will help tenants see a fair day in court. Additionally, Jake will host Know Your Rights training presentations. Knowledge is power, and this is especially true within our legal system. Jake will also aid community organizing efforts, campaign for improved laws, and draft legislation on behalf of Maryland’s immigrant communities.

In college, Jake dreamed of becoming an immigration attorney. However, after struggling with unsafe housing conditions while working towards his law degree, and after hearing hundreds of similar stories from almost everyone he knew, Jake switched gears. He believes that all people deserve access to stable housing and hopes to create a pathway for tenants to learn their rights and seek justice.

Media

Meet the Fellows in Our 2022 Housing Justice Program

I am proud to advocate for the rights of immigrant communities and tenants as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. In doing so, I play an active part in creating a more just and equitable society.

Jake Kmiech /
2022 Housing Justice Program Fellow

The Project

Dan (he/him/his) supports worker empowerment in the Twin Cities’ construction industry through the Building Dignity and Respect (BDR) Campaign and help workers defend their workplace rights.

Workers in the East African community of the Twin Cities are joining together to win better working conditions for themselves and all workers. As a community of 100,000 individuals, many of whom work in low-wage industries, they have faced unsafe workplaces, a lack of religious accommodations, and retaliation when they have tried to stand up for their rights.

Fellowship Plans

Dan supports streamlined processes to handle wage theft claims and other labor violations that construction workers face; promote awareness-raising, education and training for construction workers on BDR standards; and promote the implementation of BDR standards at the municipal level and where Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En La Lucha works.

The Project

Karla is developing a federal court strategy to challenge prolonged and arbitrary immigration detentions and systematic and unreasonable delays in the adjudication of immigration applications.

In the past two decades, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have subjected immigrants to extensive and increasing delays in processing their cases. Immigrants must then endure prolonged detention while they await decisions on their cases, resulting in more individuals spending months or even years incarcerated and separated from their families. This is a new and particularly profound problem for arriving asylum seekers, who, in many cases, are subject to mandatory detention with little opportunity for release on humanitarian parole. Without federal court pressure on these cases, many immigrants may be stuck in limbo for years.

When Karla was a toddler, she and her family emigrated from Mexico and settled in Nebraska; however, it took Karla nearly 15 years to become a United States citizen. Karla wants to serve immigrant populations so they too can be free from the anxiety and harm caused by bureaucratic delays and immigration detention.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Karla has:

  • Provided direct legal services to seven clients to challenge their prolonged detention, resulting in three clients being released from immigration detention to date
  • Provided direct legal services to six clients challenging years-long adjudication delays of their immigration applications
  • Engaged in extensive internal fact-finding to determine the immigration-benefits processing delays that NIJC clients are experiencing
  • Created a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus packet for pro se litigants to challenge their prolonged detention, which will be available to detainees in the geographic areas that NIJC serves, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin

Next Steps

In the next year, Karla plans to:

  • Continue to research the adjudication delays that NIJC clients are experiencing and develop protocols to prioritize, accept, and staff referred cases for unreasonable delay litigation at U.S. District Courts
  • Develop habeas corpus and mandamus materials to train pro bono and private immigration attorneys unfamiliar with federal court practice related to immigration law
  • Collaborate with NIJC’s pro bono manager and leaders from the habeas corpus committee to host a habeas corpus training for pro bono and private immigration attorneys

Media

Early life experiences led to public interest advocacy for alum Karla Olivas

The Project

George-Marie Jasmin works with The Medical Legal Partnership for Children (MLPC), a program of the Boston Medical Center’s Pediatrics Department. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, MLPC is a medical-legal partnership designed to improve the health, welfare and basic needs of low-income children and their families. This mission is achieved through legal assistance to families, education and training of health care staff and the communities they serve, and collaborative systemic advocacy.

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Inspiration