Munmeeth Soni

  • Hosted by Public Law Center
  • Sponsored by Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Service location Santa Ana, California
  • Law school American University Washington College of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2011
  • Program AmeriCorps Fellows Program, Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Munmeeth provided direct legal services to low-income clients in the area of immigration law. Also, Munmeeth assisted victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other serious crimes to gain lawful nonimmigrant status through T and U visas or petition for lawful permanent resident status under the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA). Additionally, Munmeeth spent time managing and involving law students with the Public Law Center’s Family Advocates Legal clinics.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Munmeeth has:

  • Provided brief legal services to 243 immigrant detainees at two Orange County facilities
  • Provided full representation to 55 detainees on matters of asylum, three of whom have since been released from detention because they received immigration relief. Meeth handled 20 of these cases herself, and she co-counseled with pro bono attorneys on the other cases.
  • Established a bimonthly “Asylum Clinic” through a partnership with Access California Services, which has allowed PLC to expand their client base to the low-income Arab and Muslim communities of Orange County. With the Arab Spring of 2011 and 2012, she provided brief legal services to clients from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine.
  • She developed extensive sample materials for pro bono attorneys and pro se litigants, including a substantive training manual on affirmative and defensive asylum claims, and sample asylum filings.

What’s Next?

After her Fellowship, Meeth plans to continue on as a Staff Attorney at the Public Law Center where she will continue the work started through her fellowship. She will also be teaching at the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Western State University College of Law as an adjunct clinical professor. She is considering launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary on her work.

The most meaningful experience of my fellowship has been the awareness my project has raised about LGBT individuals and their plight in immigration detention. It is comforting to know that our pro bono community believes that individuals, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation, should be allowed to remain in the United States where they will not be subjected to torture and harm because of who they are, and that our pro bono attorneys are willing to fight for this principle.

Munmeeth Soni /
2011 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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