2024 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Headshot of Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith

  • Hosted by National Center for Youth Law
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations, Reproductive Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Rachel (she/her/hers) will advance reproductive justice for youth in federal immigration custody through her project at the National Center for Youth Law.

Young people fleeing to the United States often come from countries with staggering rates of sexual violence and early pregnancy. When unaccompanied children are placed in immigration custody, they face unique barriers exercising their bodily autonomy and accessing reproductive and sexual health resources. Detained youth confront difficulties accessing abortion care, prenatal care, unsafe custody environments, and infringements on their privacy. There are few oversight mechanisms to ensure the treatment of detained youth is safe and legal.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Rachel will engage in investigation, litigation, advocacy, and collaboration with children’s legal service providers to protect the reproductive rights of youth detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). She will build a factual record about problems facing pregnant and parenting youth in ORR custody. Rachel will develop new potential litigation, support class action lawsuits, and engage in administrative advocacy to enforce youth’s rights. Additionally, she will provide technical assistance to youth and their legal service providers to facilitate access to reproductive health care and resources.

When the Supreme Court’s decision came down in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Rachel first thought of the teenagers and young mothers she worked with in immigration detention prior to law school. She feels honored to work at the intersection of the immigrant justice and reproductive justice movements at this critical moment.

I pursued a law degree because of my experiences advocating for children and families in immigration detention. I am so grateful for the opportunity to start my career as a lawyer fighting for the autonomy, dignity, and well-being of immigrant youth.

Rachel Smith /
2023 Equal Justice World Fellow

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