Karla Olivas

The Project

Karla is developing a federal court strategy to challenge prolonged and arbitrary immigration detentions and systematic and unreasonable delays in the adjudication of immigration applications.

In the past two decades, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have subjected immigrants to extensive and increasing delays in processing their cases. Immigrants must then endure prolonged detention while they await decisions on their cases, resulting in more individuals spending months or even years incarcerated and separated from their families. This is a new and particularly profound problem for arriving asylum seekers, who, in many cases, are subject to mandatory detention with little opportunity for release on humanitarian parole. Without federal court pressure on these cases, many immigrants may be stuck in limbo for years.

When Karla was a toddler, she and her family emigrated from Mexico and settled in Nebraska; however, it took Karla nearly 15 years to become a United States citizen. Karla wants to serve immigrant populations so they too can be free from the anxiety and harm caused by bureaucratic delays and immigration detention.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Karla has:

  • Provided direct legal services to seven clients to challenge their prolonged detention, resulting in three clients being released from immigration detention to date
  • Provided direct legal services to six clients challenging years-long adjudication delays of their immigration applications
  • Engaged in extensive internal fact-finding to determine the immigration-benefits processing delays that NIJC clients are experiencing
  • Created a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus packet for pro se litigants to challenge their prolonged detention, which will be available to detainees in the geographic areas that NIJC serves, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin

Next Steps

In the next year, Karla plans to:

  • Continue to research the adjudication delays that NIJC clients are experiencing and develop protocols to prioritize, accept, and staff referred cases for unreasonable delay litigation at U.S. District Courts
  • Develop habeas corpus and mandamus materials to train pro bono and private immigration attorneys unfamiliar with federal court practice related to immigration law
  • Collaborate with NIJC’s pro bono manager and leaders from the habeas corpus committee to host a habeas corpus training for pro bono and private immigration attorneys

Media

Early life experiences led to public interest advocacy for alum Karla Olivas

The Project

Veterans continue to experience drastically high rates of homelessness, poverty, and suicide. Patrick aimed to address this by providing free legal services to veterans, and collaborated with the Veterans Administration to find veterans in need of legal assistance.

The Inspiration

The Project

"The goal of the medical-legal partnership is to facilitate legal triage and access for hundreds of vulnerable families whose health or medical conditions are threatened by their overwhelming legal needs. Katrina dramatically changed the lives of New Orleans citizens. Three years later, people are dealing with a combination of environmental issues and stresses that complicate the overwhelmed health care system's attempts to address the patients' health care needs." (source – NOLAC)

The Inspiration

The Project

As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Tim facilitated law student volunteerism and provided legal services to assist with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Tim’s Fellowship sought to address any disconnect between law students and the legal service organizations that were leading the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The goal was to work to further law student and legal service organization collaboration to ultimately meet disaster-related legal needs.  In order to facilitate this connection, the Fellowship sought to recruit, train, and motivate a corps of law student volunteers.

Fellowship Highlights

Tim and his colleagues recruited numerous law student volunteers and trained them in line with the volunteer needs of local legal services organizations and University legal clinics.  The fellows also created a website tracking form to allow law students to monitor volunteer hours and receive recognition for their recovery efforts. Tim also directly provided legal services to families to help them clear titles to receive FEMA recovery funds.

Next Steps

After completing his Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Tim worked as a legal services attorney with Legal Aid of Nebraska before relocating to Washington, D.C. While in Washington, D.C., he worked as a parent advocate and attorney at Advocates for Justice and Education and later as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.  Tim currently represents and advises school boards as an associate in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana office of Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, Guice, Noah & Perkins.

Media Coverage

Planting an Appleseed In New Orleans

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Project

Katherine reduced the sexual exploitation of girls in Alameda County by providing mental health and support services through direct representation and community collaboration.

The Project

Seth focused on foreclosure prevention for homeowners throughout Mississippi. Additionally, Seth partnered with housing counselors, pro bono attorneys and other nonprofit organizations to provide effective and efficient assistance.

The Project

Hasti’s Crossover to Justice Project provided children and young adults who were dually involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems (“crossover youth”) with holistic, client-directed representation that extended beyond the courtroom and into the community, while providing the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office with training, consultation, and guidance in meeting their crossover clients’ unique needs.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

Hasti’s project addressed the unique needs of crossover youth by providing them with legal representation in dependency matters as well as their unmet civil legal needs such as educational and mental health services and securing public benefits. Her model ensured crossover children received an attorney acting exclusively on their behalf, and representing their expressed wishes and legal interests. The project aimed at providing children and young adults with continuity of representation between their delinquency, criminal, child welfare, and civil legal matters. The client-directed model further ensured a greater degree of accountability on behalf of the children. She was housed in the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, Juvenile Division.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Hasti:
• Presented a model of representation of crossover children that introduced holistic, wraparound legal services to ensure greater continuity during a period of great turbulence in a child’s life
• Provided legal representation, counseling, case management, and information sharing to nearly 100 children and young adults
• Developed training and educational materials to assist public defenders in addressing and representing their crossover clients’ unique needs and interests

Where are they now?

Hasti continues her work in the representation of children in the child welfare and related fields as a Salisbury Clinical Teaching Fellow at Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Civitas ChildLaw Center.