Emma-Lee targets collateral consequences of juvenile arrests through direct representation, community education, and law reform so New York City youth can pursue higher education, employment, and professional licenses.
Each year, thousands of youth are arrested as juvenile delinquents in New York City and will face discrimination and collateral consequences due to that arrest. Sealing records, ensuring record accuracy, and counseling on non-disclosure will make a crucial difference for youth who already face over-policing and are unable to pay for private counsel who typically seal and expunge these records. Many impacted individuals who will be served by this project are otherwise unaware of the legal protections available to them and are denied or discouraged from pursuing jobs, licenses, or admittance to a higher education institution, as a result of arrest-related discrimination.
This project aims to break down barriers to employment and education by enforcing New York Family Court Act’s protections and empowering New Yorkers with juvenile arrests to defend their rights against record-based discrimination.
Fellowship Highlights to Date
In the past year, Emma-Lee has:
- Represented 21 individuals in juvenile delinquency proceedings, including dispositional conferences and motions to seal
- Advised 14 individuals with juvenile delinquency arrests and adjudications on the Family Court Act record-related protections relating to employment and higher education
- Successfully challenged criminal history reports that contained erroneous juvenile records
- Conducted trainings on the New York Family Court Act post-dispositional protections and record-related provisions for New York City legal organizations that represent people impacted by the criminal and juvenile legal systems
- Established a collaborative relationship with New York City and state agencies to ensure juvenile record accuracy
In the next year, Emma-Lee plans to:
- Continue representing individuals in Kings County Family Court and advising those with juvenile delinquency arrests and adjudications on employment and record-related protections
- Expand record-related statutory protections in the Family Court Act through legislative reform
- Draft and distribute Know Your Rights Manual accessible to young people, their communities, and lawyers regarding arrest disclosures, sealing and expungement, and collateral consequences
As a former high school teacher, I have witnessed how an arrest stemming from the purported rehabilitative system of delinquency court can stifle the ability of a young person to access employment, licenses, or higher education—the very opportunities that would propel them from a life rooted in poverty, stigma, and recidivism.
Emma-Lee Clinger /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Maura provides trauma-informed immigration legal representation to immigrant youth who are survivors of gender-based violence in a setting that specializes in holistic youth development services in New York City.
Thousands of immigrant youth arrive in New York City after experiencing violence, poverty, and abuse. Almost half of the unaccompanied children in the City do not have lawyers to represent them in removal proceedings. Many of these young people are girls and LGBTQ+ youth fleeing sexual and gender-based violence in Central America, or from other countries around the world. Furthermore, immigrant youth often continue to experience gender-based violence after they flee their home countries. As a result, young immigrant survivors in New York City have complex legal and social service needs. Now, through Maura’s Fellowship project, The Door is the only organization in New York City providing immigration legal services for young people who are survivors of gender-based violence in a setting that is youth-focused and offers wraparound social services.
Maura’s experience in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after college sparked her passion for working with immigrants. She is dedicated to accompanying immigrant youth on their journeys to safety and better futures in the U.S.
Fellowship Highlights to Date
During the first year of the Fellowship, Maura has:
- Represented 25 youth survivors of gender-based violence and trafficking in affirmative and defensive immigration cases, including asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U Visa, and T Visa cases.
- Worked collaboratively with social workers to connect young people with social services at The Door.
- Partnered with Restore NYC, The Legal Aid Society, and Day One to present three trainings for The Door’s Legal Services Center staff on recognizing the signs of trafficking, representing immigrants in T Visa cases, and working with young people experiencing dating violence.
- Conducted outreach to the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts in New York City and other legal service providers to introduce the fellowship project and create a referral system for new cases.
In the next six months, Maura plans to:
- Continue representing immigrant youth survivors of gender-based violence and trafficking in asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U Visa, and T Visa cases.
- Develop and implement a culturally competent and trauma-informed screening tool to assess immigration relief and social service needs for survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence.
I am dedicated to the idea of holistic legal representation for young people and I am inspired by this type of advocacy practiced at The Door’s Legal Services Center.
Maura Tracy /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Based at the National Employment Law Project, Sarah provided legal services to home health aides, child care providers and domestic workers to create more equitable working conditions. The project enforced overtime and minimum wage rights and recover unpaid wages; aid workers’ centers and community-based organizations in developing effective legal strategies and legislative advocacy programs to press for new labor rights, and provide transactional legal services to workers seeking to establish worker-owned cooperatives.
The purpose of this project is to advocate for prisoners with disabilities to increase their access to the educational, vocational, and pre-release prison programs and services that they need to successfully reenter society. I hope to impress upon prison officials and disability advocates that meaningful reentry must begin during incarceration.