Oscar Emilio Alfaro Albarran

The Project

Oscar (he/him/his) will focus on attaining safety for low-income immigrant survivors of violence in the Coastal Bend by conducting outreach and through direct legal representation centered on preventing international child abduction.

Recently the number of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the suburban and rural areas of the Coastal Bend in Texas has increased. Many of these immigrants are families who experienced violence in their home country, migrated to the US in search of safety, and now face criminal complaints filed by the abusive partner left behind. Others are victims or subject to threats of abduction of their children by abusive parents. Due to language barriers and the lack of information about legal remedies, many have limited access to justice, making them extremely vulnerable to these abuses that disproportionately harm immigrant communities and their children.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Oscar will provide legal services in English and Spanish to immigrants facing violence, focusing on obtaining protective orders, custody, divorce, and, ultimately, litigating international children abduction cases. He will also educate immigrant communities and partner agencies about remedies specifically available for immigrant violence survivors. Finally, Oscar will build community partnerships to develop and disseminate resources to immigrant survivors of abuse.

Oscar’s experience as a child, his family roots divided between Mexico and the US, and a double law degree in Mexico and the United States inspired him to seek justice for those whose lives and family ties transcend borders.

Having experienced as a kid the angst of abruptly moving to another country due to domestic disputes between my parents, and as a Mexican marked by both sides of the border, I am honored and eager to help bring relief to those families and children who embark on transnational odysseys in search of safety.

Oscar Emilio Alfaro Albarran /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Sophia (she/her/ella) will advance economic justice for low-income street vendors through direct legal services, community education, and policy advocacy.

Los Angeles County is home to over 50,000 street vendors, the majority of whom are women and people of color who earn only about $15,000 a year. Street vending is an economic driver for vendors’ families and their entire community, offering a path to build a business, create jobs, and circulate capital in disinvested neighborhoods. Despite many benefits of street vending, California has a long history of criminalizing and excluding street vendors from the economy with devastating consequences. Two recent California laws could make street vending easier and less expensive. Without the infrastructure of legal support to assist with implementation on a local level, however, the laws will be ineffective, and vendors will continue to struggle with navigating bureaucracy and potential criminalization. Economic inclusion is within reach for LA’s street vendors, but vendors need specific legal support to make this a reality.

Fellowship Plans

Sophia will build on her previous work during law school with Public Counsel and the Los Angeles Street Vending Coalition to expand grassroots vendor-centered advocacy. Sophia will provide direct services to vendors through representation in enforcement actions, hold health food permit clinics, and conduct Know Your Rights workshops. She will monitor and provide technical assistance to cities and counties related to the implementation of their local street vending regulations. Lastly, she will build out infrastructure projects around vending that were enabled by the passage of SB 972 in California, such as the expanded use of commercial kitchens as commissary kitchens and facilitating the development of a new vending cart prototype with direct vendor input.

Street vending is a way that low-income immigrants of color can sustain themselves in an economic system that is heavily weighted against them. Doing this work fulfills and motivates me because I am helping others succeed and build something of their own that can help break the cycle of poverty.

Sophia Wrench /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Christy (she/her/hers) will work to protect Afghan, Ukrainian, and other immigrants newly arrived in the Greater Houston area from deportation through direct representation, community collaboration, and innovative pro se legal workshops.

Recent conflicts have driven Afghan nationals in droves to seek safety and refuge in the United States. Houston, as the fourth largest city in the U.S., has seen thousands of these refugees swell its diverse immigrant population and strain its legal community resources, with more than 6,000 Afghan nationals resettled in the Houston area. This project seeks to relieve the pressure by focusing on the unique legal immigration needs of those refugees and by providing committed and passionate legal assistance.

Since the crisis in Afghanistan, new conflicts and natural disasters have driven vulnerable populations out of Ukraine, Central America, and South Asia, many of whom seek safe haven in the U.S. As with the Afghan refugees, these refugees have found a home in Houston and will also benefit from diligent legal representation.

Christy’s heritage and community background are the driving forces behind her commitment to expanding access to legal representation for immigrants.

Fellowship Plans

Christy will directly represent Afghan, Ukrainian, and other immigrant clients before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Immigration Court and help them apply for the immigration relief for which they are eligible. She will also develop and provide pro se legal workshops for these immigrants, as well as build collaborative relationships with pro bono attorneys and service organizations to replicate the workshop model and expand pro bono capacity in Houston.

Media

Texas Access to Justice Foundation Sponsors Five Fellows

I’m the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in Houston, a sanctuary city. I’ve felt a powerful connection to the immigrant community from day one, and I’m honored to join Catholic Charities, whose mission brings legal aid and justice to immigrants.

Christy Ramos /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Danicole will provide compassionate legal services and advocacy for noncitizen veterans who served in the United States military.

Foreign-born residents comprise nearly a quarter of Hawai‘i’s population of 1.4 million and include an estimated 40,000 undocumented residents and 106,000 veterans. Yet, only eight lawyers statewide provide free or low-cost immigration legal services to immigrant communities. In Hawai‘i, two of the largest immigrant communities are the Filipino and Pacific Islander communities. Noncitizen veterans from these communities can end up in removal proceedings and be removed despite being eligible to naturalize earlier. Many failed to naturalize because they did not understand the process.

Danicole’s immigrant heritage and service to the United States military inspire his commitment to serve the immigrants who served this country.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Danicole will help noncitizen veterans navigate the naturalization process and represent them in removal proceedings. He will also collaborate with veteran organizations to ensure noncitizen veterans are aware of the immigration benefits to which they are entitled. Finally, Danicole will develop a policy report and advocate at the state and federal level about issues impacting noncitizen veterans in Hawai‘i.

Media

Law Fellowship to Assist Non-Citizen Military, Veterans With Immigration

As a child of immigrants and someone who serves in the military, I believe noncitizen veterans are the embodiment of American patriotism. They deserve dignity and respect for their sacrifices to this country.

Danicole Ramos /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Rachel (she/her/hers) will advance reproductive justice for youth in federal immigration custody through her project at the National Center for Youth Law.

Young people fleeing to the United States often come from countries with staggering rates of sexual violence and early pregnancy. When unaccompanied children are placed in immigration custody, they face unique barriers exercising their bodily autonomy and accessing reproductive and sexual health resources. Detained youth confront difficulties accessing abortion care, prenatal care, unsafe custody environments, and infringements on their privacy. There are few oversight mechanisms to ensure the treatment of detained youth is safe and legal.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Rachel will engage in investigation, litigation, advocacy, and collaboration with children’s legal service providers to protect the reproductive rights of youth detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). She will build a factual record about problems facing pregnant and parenting youth in ORR custody. Rachel will develop new potential litigation, support class action lawsuits, and engage in administrative advocacy to enforce youth’s rights. Additionally, she will provide technical assistance to youth and their legal service providers to facilitate access to reproductive health care and resources.

When the Supreme Court’s decision came down in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Rachel first thought of the teenagers and young mothers she worked with in immigration detention prior to law school. She feels honored to work at the intersection of the immigrant justice and reproductive justice movements at this critical moment.

Media

Morgan Lewis Co-Sponsors Three Public Service Equal Justice Works Fellowships

I pursued a law degree because of my experiences advocating for children and families in immigration detention. I am so grateful for the opportunity to start my career as a lawyer fighting for the autonomy, dignity, and well-being of immigrant youth.

Rachel Smith /
2023 Equal Justice World Fellow

The Project

Gladys (she/her) will provide bilingual immigration services focused on labor trafficking and exploitation in rural Texas while creating a lasting program that continues legal advocacy focused on immigration.

In 2020, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received over 3,500 contacts in Texas, with 1,488 being from victims themselves. Victims of labor trafficking are exploited through force, fraud, and coercion; their lack of legal status is used as a tactic to ensure submission. The strategic targeting of immigrants and the lack of access to legal aid make rural counties in Texas the perfect environment for traffickers to grow their operations.

As a daughter of immigrants and a person whose family members still fear being deported, Gladys learned firsthand about the immigrant experience, which may be filled with discrimination and abuse, but that never manages to shut down the determination for a better life. Through this determination, Gladys now has the privilege to utilize the law to advocate for immigrants, which she hopes to do for as long as she is able.

Fellowship Plans

Gladys will provide legal aid to immigrant trafficking victims facing violence-related issues in rural counties served by Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas’ offices in McKinney, Denton, Amarillo, and Lubbock. The project will bring relief to clients through U-Visas, Violence Against Women Act self-petitions, and T-Visas in rural counties and communities where many immigrants reside. To further increase accessibility and positively impact both immigrants and survivors of trafficking, Gladys will digitize resources for clients and staff in both English and Spanish. Concurrently, she will collaborate with local nonprofit and faith-based organizations that can identify and understand specific local needs to provide holistic legal services.

Media

Texas Access to Justice Foundation Sponsors Five Fellows

My work at my law school’s legal clinic has shown me that my passion stems from direct client work. Through my Equal Justice Works Fellowship, I will continue developing this skill while directly empowering the immigrant community in rural Texas.

Gladys Marcos /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Elizabeth combats employment discrimination among undocumented and low-wage workers in Los Angeles through direct legal services, community outreach and education, and policy advocacy.

Los Angeles’ low wage industries—including the car wash, garment, restaurant, day labor, and domestic worker industries—are notorious for wage theft, discrimination, and retaliation. Employers are increasingly retaliating against undocumented workers for asserting their employment rights and advocating for better working conditions. In some instances, they may even threaten to report workers to ICE. Fearful of legal repercussions, undocumented workers may be reluctant to report employment violations and to cooperate with workplace investigations. This enables unscrupulous employers to gain unfair competitive advantages over law-abiding employers.

Elizabeth’s prior work with Bet Tzedek Legal Services addressing wage theft and discrimination among low wage workers left a lasting impression on her. Having grown up in an immigrant household and in a largely low income minority neighborhood, advocating on behalf of low wage and immigrant workers felt meaningful.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Elizabeth will build on Bet Tzedek Legal Services’ existing partnerships with community-based organizations and worker centers. She will hold regular discrimination clinics and provide advice, counsel, and direct representation to workers in the areas of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. She will also hold Know-Your-Rights trainings to educate workers about what to do when an employer discriminates against them. Additionally, in collaboration with Bet Tzedek Legal Services and community partners, Elizabeth will develop policy proposals to expand protections and enforcement against discrimination.

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants and granddaughter of a Bracero farmworker, I came to admire the hard work and resiliency of immigrant workers and I learned to fiercely protect what workers rightfully earned through their labor—including respect.

Elizabeth Machado /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Peter will advocate for creative solutions to increase protections for individuals forced to migrate due to climate change through direct representation, trauma-informed pro bono training, and policy work.

Every year, more than 25 million people are forcibly displaced by sudden onset disasters such as floods, storms, wildfires, and extreme temperatures. By 2050, up to 216 million people throughout the world could face the same fate due to slow-onset climate events such as droughts and rising sea-levels. No comprehensive international legal framework currently exists to address displacement caused by climate change and disasters—a crisis of increasing magnitude. There is a clear need to address climate-driven displacement to protect and provide safe havens for impacted persons.

Peter is committed to ensuring the United States respects its moral and national interest in creating legal pathways to humanitarian protection for individuals fleeing climate-driven hazards and setting an example for other countries to do the same.

Fellowship Plans

This project is unique in its integrated response to climate-driven displacement—incorporating litigation, climate-informed resource development, trainings for a national pro bono network of asylum attorneys, and policy advocacy. During his Fellowship, Peter aims to help climate-displaced individuals in two ways: by ensuring maximum protection is extended under existing U.S. legal frameworks; and by advocating for the adoption of new forms of protection.

Media

UC Law SF Students Recognized for Social Justice Work

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship grants me the privilege to serve those disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. I am honored and proud to unwaveringly advocate with and for all forcibly displaced individuals and facilitate a coordinated response to climate-driven migration.

Peter Habib /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Andrew (he/him) will work with Human Rights First to dismantle systemic barriers that prevent indigenous peoples from Central America from receiving asylum in the United States.

Indigenous peoples face racial discrimination and state-sanctioned violence throughout Latin America yet are denied asylum in the United States at a greater rate than the general population. These asylum seekers often struggle to find interpreters or lawyers who are familiar with their cultural backgrounds, which leads to long delays in their cases and a higher likelihood of errors or missed deadlines. As a result, many are denied asylum and other critical protections under our immigration laws for which they should qualify.

Andrew’s firsthand experience working with indigenous asylum seekers compels him to undertake this project in pursuit of racial and language justice in the asylum system.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Andrew will represent indigenous individuals in their immigration proceedings. By working collaboratively with community organizations, Andrew will strengthen networks for interpreters, translators, and subject matter experts to publish pro se legal guides in underserved indigenous languages. Additionally, Andrew will organize know-your-rights presentations and asylum clinics in partnership with schools, community organizations, and legal services providers. Finally, he will develop a policy report detailing the failures of the asylum system to meet the needs of indigenous peoples in the Los Angeles area.

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship will allow me to serve some of the most vulnerable communities in Southern California while holding our asylum system accountable to its obligations under the law.

Andrew Feinberg /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Renee will advocate for immigrants and people with limited English proficiency in the Bay Area who are targeted by fraud and scams.

Scams skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they did not affect all communities equally. Scammers intentionally target immigrants and people with limited English proficiency (LEP) with threats and false promises of assistance. Immigrant and LEP victims of scams face barriers to attaining help because many institutions’ reporting procedures are accessible only in English and contacting law enforcement may put them or their family members at risk of immigration consequences.

Without consumer protection legal services focused on the unique needs of immigrants and LEP individuals, scammers will go unchecked and financial institutions will continue to look the other way, with devastating consequences for immigrant communities.

Renée believes that consumer rights are immigrants’ rights. She has a background in immigration law and consumer law, and she sees the potential of working at the intersection of these two fields to strengthen protections for immigrants in the Bay Area.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Renée will represent low-income immigrants and LEP individuals who have experienced scams, focusing on liability for financial institutions that fail to prevent or adequately investigate fraudulent activity. Working with a network of community partners throughout Alameda County, Renée will conduct outreach to targeted communities and share information about how people can spot, avoid, and recover from scams. Renée will operate community-based legal clinics to help victims of scams safely pursue consumer law remedies and will work closely with immigration attorneys to provide wraparound support to her clients.

Media

Welcoming Equal Justice Works Fellow Renée Coe

Working at Bay Area Legal Aid’s Consumer Rights Clinic, I saw firsthand the devastating impact that scams have on immigrants and their families. This Fellowship will give me the opportunity to provide consumer law services tailored to the specific needs of immigrant communities.

Renée Coe /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow