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Michelle Saucedo

  • Hosted by Immigrant Defenders Law Center
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Los Angeles , California
  • Law school University of Washington School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Michelle provided trauma-informed legal representation to vulnerable undocumented children and youth navigating immigration removal proceedings and the child welfare and/or delinquency systems in the Los Angeles area.

This project provided support, advocacy, and legal representation to undocumented children and youth concurrently navigating immigration removal proceedings and the state child welfare and/or delinquency systems. Michelle shed light on the special needs and considerations that must be addressed when representing and supporting undocumented children and youth who have endured tremendous trauma prior to and during their lives in the United States. With zealous advocacy and trauma-informed representation, Michelle achieved successful outcomes to ensure her clients’ special circumstances were properly addressed in their immigration cases and that will help them reach permanent relief and healing.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Michelle:

  • Established partnerships with the Children’s Law Center of California in Los Angeles, the country’s largest public interest law firm representing children in dependency proceedings, and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, to provide immigration representation to dependent children and youth in removal proceedings
  • Represented dozens of clients between the ages of 6 and 22 and successfully obtained immigration relief for them, including dismissal of removal proceedings, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, employment authorization, and lawful permanent residency
  • Worked closely with defense counsel in delinquency proceedings and child counsel in dependency proceedings to achieve positive outcomes for clients in their state-court cases and protect their immigration cases
  • Created internal guide for Immigrant Defenders Law Center attorneys to navigate dependency/foster care-involved cases and provided technical assistance
  • Co-created a presentation on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and children in the foster care and immigration systems that was presented at the statewide Beyond the Bench Conference, which brings together judges, attorneys, social workers, and other system partners to transform practice

Next Steps

Michelle will remain at Immigrant Defenders Law Center as a staff attorney. She looks forward to continuing to fight for her clients, so they are safe from deportation and can obtain permanent immigration relief. She’s excited to see all her clients thrive, succeed, and realize their dreams in the United States.

These children, who have endured so much, provide compelling testimonies of survival and redemption in spite of unimaginable trauma and pain. These are the cases that desperately need advocacy to be heard and given justice. Without legal representation, these undocumented children and youth will not have the chance to effectively explain their trauma, the context of any juvenile justice issues, and their best interests for staying in the United States. This project gives me the opportunity to advocate for them and intervene in systems that have otherwise disposed of them.

Michelle Saucedo /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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