Pilar Ferguson

  • Hosted by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  • Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, The Sidley Austin Foundation
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Pilar provided legal representation to unaccompanied children released to sponsors in Los Angeles who fled serious forms of sexual, domestic, and gang violence, human trafficking or other heinous crimes. She will also create a social services directory to be used in Los Angeles and replicated in other Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) offices that will connect legal and non-legal service providers to better address the various obstacles that face child migrants, such as access to mental health providers and education services.

Over the past year, the United States saw a drastic increase in unaccompanied children (UACs) coming to the United States seeking safety. Many of these children are fleeing serious forms of violence, such as sexual violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, gang-based violence or other heinous crimes. The children are not provided with legal representation. They have to gather evidence, prepare declarations and argue against an experienced government attorney by themselves for the chance to stay in the United States. According to reports by the Office of Refuge Resettlement, between January 1 to July 31, 2014, 3909 UACs were released to sponsors living in California. The sponsor is often a family member or friend, but is usually someone the child has not seen in many years, if at all. In addition to navigating a complex legal system, the children and their sponsors have to navigate their way through the public school system, and figure out how to access vital non-legal social service providers, all while speaking a different language.

Fellowship Highlights

During Pilar’s Fellowship, Pilar:

  • Identified unaccompanied children who are eligible for relief
  • Recruited and train pro bono attorneys to take cases
  • Established working relationships with organizations that advocate for the non-legal needs of the children

Meet Other Fellows Like Pilar

View All

Photo of Cindy Guaman

Cindy Guaman

Host: Make the Road New Jersey

Sponsor: Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation

Current Fellow

Hayley Upshaw

Host: Legal Services for Children

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Photo of Cristina Rodriguez

Cristina Rodriguez

Host: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Sponsor: Costco Wholesale

Current Fellow

Courtney Bolin

Host: Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc.

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation