Photo of Reina Saco

Reina Saco

  • Hosted by Florida Legal Services
  • Sponsored by The Florida Bar Foundation
  • Service location Newberry, Florida
  • Law school University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Reina used education, outreach, community lawyering, legislative advocacy and impact litigation to increase access to affordable, safe and sanitary housing for migrant farmworker communities across Florida.

Up to 200,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers work in Florida. Many agricultural farmworkers in Florida are undocumented immigrants. Due to their immigration status, they are excluded from living in labor camps or in federally subsidized housing and often must live in substandard housing. They are often reluctant to report landlord abuses due to recent increases in ICE enforcement. This project increased access to safe housing to promote stable employment and improved health outcomes for Florida’s farmworker community. By focusing on a holistic approach and community lawyering, Reina challenged discriminatory practices in housing.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Reina has:

  • Successfully advocated for an amendment to the Alachua County Human Rights Ordinance making citizenship status, veterans status, lawful source of income, and status as a victim of dating violence, domestic violence or stalking protected classes in housing, as well as prohibiting the inquiry and disclosure of real or perceived immigration status of tenants
  • Developed and executed a monthly legal clinic for communities not able to access legal aid services for civil issues
  • Delivered 45 community education workshops, reaching over 1700 attendees
  • Worked with local law enforcement agencies to rewrite their internal policies and practices to be more sensitive to the needs and fears of the immigrant community, with law enforcement no longer inquiring about immigration status and ensuring interpreters for all witnesses and victims
  • Developed short videos on housing rights, which will be available for free and can be accessed by community partners to show at community meetings

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Reina plans to continue working at Florida Legal Services as an Immigrant and Migrant Rights Attorney.

Media

Reina Saco: From Refugee to the Gainesville City Commission

Lunch with Layne: Commissioner Reina Saco (Ep. 7.1)

New legal fellow hopes to help area immigrants

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