Kate Lewis

  • Hosted by Catholic Migration Services
  • Service location Brooklyn, NY
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Human Rights, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program AmeriCorps Fellows Program

The Project

Under the justice AmeriCorps program, I am serving as a paralegal for unaccompanied minor children living in Brooklyn and Queens who are in immigration proceedings. Most are applying for asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a type of legal status that grants permanent residency to abused, neglected, or abandoned children. Most of our clients are from El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala. It is my job to assist them in applying for immigration relief, preparing for interviews and court hearings, and writing declarations, as well as to perform other case management tasks.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

In 2014 there was a wave of children arriving alone to the US-Mexico border, fleeing violence and neglect in their own countries and seeking a better life in ours. The US immigration system was, for the most part, entirely unprepared to receive them. They were held in temporary shelters on military bases and put into expedited removal processes, the government’s stated goal being to return as many of them as possible back home. This policy stands in direct violation of the international right to seek asylum and the US Constitutional guarantee of due process. Slowly, civil society organizations have begun to step up and ensure that those children with legitimate claims to stay in this country are allowed to do so. Studies have shown that children in immigration proceedings with legal representation are many times more likely to win their cases than those without. That’s where we come in.

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Sponsor: Steptoe & Johnson LLP