Michaela Lovejoy

  • Hosted by Bread for the City
  • Sponsored by Crowell & Moring Foundation
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school The George Washington University Law School
  • Issue area Human Trafficking and Victim’s Rights Enforcement
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Michaela will advocate for survivors of human trafficking and power-based violence seeking safety in the court and immigration systems through targeted outreach and community coordination, direct legal services, and pro bono mentorship.

Undocumented immigrants are among those most vulnerable to human trafficking, Yet the legal community is failing to address their needs: while 5000 T-visas are available annually, only 1,500 have been issued in recent years, and many survivors report that they are unaware that they are entitled to this form of relief. Moreover, immigrant survivors of power-based violence face barriers to accessing protections in family court they are entitled to under the law. Indeed, judges report that 54% of their court cases involving immigrant victims have been interrupted in recent years due to fears of being deported. As systems become more inaccessible to immigrant communities, the need for advocates to assist victims in navigating avenues to safety is greater than ever.

While working as a rape crisis advocate prior to law school, Michaela witnessed a tragic phenomenon: a victim-offender binary narrative, in which people can only be the victims of crime or the perpetrators. Michaela’s project is the product of her desire to serve the survivors of trauma who society overlooks because of their identity at the intersection of victim and offender.

Fellowship Plans

Michaela will provide full representation to immigrants survivors of power-based violence and human trafficking seeking T-Visas, U-Visas, VAWA relief, and Special Juvenile Immigrant Status, as well as assist survivors seeking safety from violence in obtaining civil protection orders and other family law remedies. Her project will build a holistic referral network to promote client outreach and facilitate mobile intake clinics by creating interdisciplinary partnerships with legal and non-legal organizations that regularly advocate for domestic violence, trafficking survivors, and immigrants. In partnership with her sponsor, Michaela will train pro bono attorneys to provide trauma-informed representation to expand her project’s capacity to vindicate the rights of her clients.

Criminalizing human trafficking survivors not only unjustly burdens victims with the collateral consequences of criminal records, but also prevents healing from trauma.

Michaela Lovejoy /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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