Photo of Pete Weiss

Peter Weiss

  • Hosted by Pangea Legal Services
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, The City of San Jose
  • Service location Milpitas, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Peter advocated for the San José community members who are most vulnerable to deportation—immigrants with past criminal convictions—through direct representation in immigration court, legislative advocacy, and partnership with the Santa Clara County Public Defender Office.

Santa Clara County, California, which includes the City of San José, has the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants in the Bay Area. Yet the County has relatively few legal service providers with the expertise, willingness, and capacity to represent immigrants with criminal convictions in immigration court. As a result, there are currently 1,637 Santa Clara County residents facing deportation without an attorney.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship period, Peter:

  • Provided full-scope legal representation to 31 people in removal proceedings
  • Provided legal consultations, brief services, or referrals to 101 people at risk of deportation
  • Secured the release of six clients from ICE detention, including a San José father who had been detained for two and half years, and four medically-vulnerable clients during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Won post-conviction relief for three Santa Clara County residents, including an immigrants’ rights organizer who can now move to recover his green card and stay with his wife and young daughters
  • Defended and strengthened Santa Clara County’s sanctuary policy by working with directly-affected community members to pass the strictest non-cooperation policy with ICE in the nation
  • In collaboration with Councilmember Lan Diep, co-authored a San José city resolution denouncing ICE’s practice of targeting Vietnamese refugees, which passed with unanimous support

Next Steps

Pete remains at Pangea Legal Services now as a co-director and immigration attorney. He continues to represent Bay Area community members who are at risk of deportation due to criminal convictions.


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I firmly believe that no one should be without an attorney when facing permanent separation from their loved ones.

Peter Weiss /
2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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