Photo of Katherine Fite

Katherine Fite

  • Hosted by Safe Passage Project
  • Sponsored by Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Verizon Foundation
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Katherine will represent undocumented immigrant children who have suffered sexual violence in immigration matters and work to increase their access to mental health services through community and network building.

There is no right to no-cost counsel in immigration court proceedings, even for unaccompanied minors. Less than one-third of children end up with legal representation; it is estimated that 90% of these children are ultimately reported. For many children, especially those who have experienced gender-based violence, these legal obstacles are supplanted by mental health challenges. They experience higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, needs that too often go unmet.

As a law student, Katherine worked with girls who fled harassment from gang members and men in their family after their government failed to protect them. The U.S. has a profound role to play in helping these girls escape violence and empowering them to lead healthy, productive lives here, but the system is not set up to embrace that role. Katherine knew that she wanted to build a bridge to get these girls and others like them over our system’s hurdles and on their way to better futures.

Fellowship Plans

Katherine will provide legal representation to unaccompanied minors fleeing gender-based violence and create materials detailing the mental health services available to unaccompanied minors. She will also work to identify clients with unmet mental health needs and provide referrals for services and direct advocacy.

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