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Marissa Ram

  • Hosted by New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
  • Sponsored by AIG, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
  • Service location Greater New York City Area, New York
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2013
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Marissa provided direct representation, community education and policy advocacy to homeless and street-involved male youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and immigrant populations who are experiencing (or at-risk for) trafficking or exploitation in both the formal workplace and street-level informal survival economies.

Male youth and LGBTQ youth are largely overlooked in anti-trafficking initiatives. Those engaging in survival sex for food and shelter or experiencing labor exploitation often do not realize they may qualify for immigration relief, public benefits, or other legal remedies. In recent years, young men of color, immigrant youth, and transgender youth in low-income communities have been targeted through racial profiling and the policing of sex work under the New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” program, driving victims of exploitation and trafficking underground and away from the legal services they are entitled to and need. Marissa’s project will expand New York Legal Assistance Group’s LGBTQ Law Project to focus specifically on serving male youth and LGBTQ youth.

Highlights to Date

In the past two years, Marissa has:

  • Trained 54 legal and social services providers on employment and immigration legal remedies for youth experiencing or at risk of trafficking or workplace exploitation
  • Conducted legal education workshops for 36 at-risk youth
  • Provided legal advice, brief services, individual consultations, and referrals to 24 homeless youth clients
  • Represented seven survivors of trafficking in applying for T visas and other forms of immigration relief
  • Engaged in media and policy advocacy to increase public awareness of the legal needs of client populations
  • Created training materials to increase the number of attorneys screening for and working on issues related to youth trafficking, exploitation, and low-wage labor

Meet Other Fellows Like Marissa

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Mary Bissell

Mary Bissell

Host: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Jaynie Leung

Host: Children's Law Center of Minnesota

Sponsor: Robins Kaplan LLP

Rachel Kleinberg

Host: Public Counsel

Sponsor: Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Ashley Ortagus

Host: Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc.

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation