Kathleen Kersh

  • Hosted by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. / Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Ohio Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Dayton, Ohio
  • Law school The University of Michigan Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2013
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Katie promoted and facilitated trust between immigrants and law enforcement in the Dayton area in conjunction with existing efforts to successfully integrate immigrants into the community.

Recent increases in immigrant populations and heightened political attention that immigration issues receive have put pressure on cities like Dayton to decide whether they will embrace immigrant communities or isolate them. The Welcome Dayton Plan, an immigrant-friendly city initiative, identifies a mistrusting relationship between law enforcement and immigrant communities as one of the key barriers to immigrant integration. Katie’s project creates an immigrant-friendly law enforcement model for the Dayton Police Department and surrounding jurisdictions. Katie presents know-your-rights trainings to immigrant communities to raise awareness of legal rights and remedies available to victims of crime, workplace exploitation, and racial profiling; Katie also provides direct legal representation on these issues.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Katie has:

  • Represented 54 immigrant victims of crime and workplace exploitation in immigration and employment matters, including human trafficking
  • Launched a clinic to assist over 300 refugees in adjusting their status to Lawful
  • Permanent Residency, recruiting six pro bono attorneys and 30 law and paralegal students
  • Educated over 30 law enforcement and other government agencies on immigrant-friendly policies
  • Collaborated with community partners to meet with local police chiefs to pass 17 different immigrant-friendly policing policies at police departments in the Greater Dayton Area
  • Trained approximately 700 law enforcement and service providers on considerations for working with immigrant victims of crime
  • Empowered nearly 1,000 immigrants through Know Your Rights presentations on police relations and immigration remedies for victims of crime and Executive Action

What’s Next?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Katie plans to continue representing victims of crime in immigration and employment matters as a Staff Attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality.

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