Photo of Rachel Sohl

Rachel Nowlin-Sohl

  • Hosted by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • Service location Seattle, Washington
  • Law school Stanford Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Rachel (she/her/hers) will expand immigration services for older teens to an underserved region of Washington State through direct representation, community outreach, education, and pro bono partnerships.

Undocumented teenagers are uniquely vulnerable to violence, poverty, and adverse educational outcomes. Securing permanent legal status allows them to launch into adulthood with the stability they need to achieve their goals. Many of these young people may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), an underutilized form of immigration relief for certain children abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent. SIJS is a powerful status that creates a pathway to citizenship, but applicants must navigate both state family courts and federal immigration proceedings to qualify—all before they turn twenty-one.

Youth in immigration proceedings have no right to court-appointed counsel, but they need attorneys to navigate this complex process. In three counties north of Seattle, Rachel will be the first attorney dedicated to securing SIJS and other immigration relief for older teens before they age out of eligibility. 

Rachel taught in middle and elementary schools for eight years before deciding to attend law school and fight for immigrant justice and human rights. Her fiery students inspired her to work for the world that should be, and not settle for the one that is.

Fellowship Plans

Rachel’s Fellowship project has three prongs. She will partner with schools and community organizations to raise awareness about SIJS and identify youth who may be eligible for SIJS or other forms of immigration relief. Next, she will recruit and train volunteer attorneys in Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties to represent SIJS clients, and educate them on upcoming changes in Washington law that will alter the process in state court. At the same time, she will be directly representing youth clients in both family court and immigration proceedings.

As a teacher, I worked with students and parents who came to the United States from all over the world. They were proud of their resilient families and passionate about immigrant justice. Now I am too.

Rachel Sohl /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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