Photo of Karla Perez

Karla Perez

  • Hosted by Tahirih Justice Center
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Houston, Texas
  • Law school University of Houston Law Center
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Karla increased access to culturally competent, holistic legal services to immigrant women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence in underserved communities in the greater Houston region.

Areas near Houston—like Pasadena, League City, and Galveston—lack services for immigrant women and girls. Discrimination and fear of deportation prevent immigrant women and girls from seeking legal recourse for gender-based violence. Senate Bill 4’s passage during the 85th Texas Legislature created another barrier for this population to obtain immigration relief. Fear of local law enforcement acting as immigration officers makes it difficult for women and girls to access protections under U.S. law or to even exercise their constitutional rights during interactions with law enforcement or immigration officials. The trauma experienced by immigrant women and girls make navigating our complicated immigration system a formidable challenge. Without legal representation, these women and girls are unlikely to obtain relief from deportation.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Karla represented 45 immigrant survivors of gender-based violence in defensive and affirmative asylum cases, applications for U and T visas, and relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). She also provided brief services and advice and counsel to service seekers across Harris, Brazoria, Montgomery, Fort Bend, and Galveston counties. Despite mounting attacks on protections for immigrant survivors, Karla obtained numerous forms of relief for her clients including three Permanent Resident Cards, two VAWA Self-Petition approvals, and one T Visa. Karla also provided training for and collaborated with the Montgomery County Women’s Center, Fort Bend Women’s Center, Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County, The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Katy Christian Ministries, and FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center to expand access to holistic legal services for immigrant survivors of gender-based violence in underserved communities in the greater Houston region.

Next Steps

Karla remains with the Tahirih Justice Center as a staff attorney. In this role, she continues to represent immigrant gender-based violence survivors in underserved areas surrounding Houston including Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County.  

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