Photo of Samah Sisay

Samah Sisay

  • Hosted by African Services Committee
  • Sponsored by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Samah provided legal services and advocacy tools to African and Caribbean immigrant women in New York City who faced gender-based violence, with a specific focus on the inclusion of transgender women.

The experiences of immigrant women impacted by gender-based violence are often exacerbated by their specific position as immigrants, such as difficulties obtaining employment and lack of access to information and legal representation. African and Caribbean immigrant women are often further marginalized due to a lack of cultural understanding and racial bias. This project increased the number of African and Caribbean immigrant women in New York City who were empowered to seek relief as survivors of gender-based violence through the inclusion of transgender immigrant women who, like cisgender women, are impacted by violence due to their race, immigration status, and gender identity.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, Samah:

  • Conducted over 90 client screenings and provided full legal representation to 60 clients
  • Completed and won 8 asylum cases for Black immigrant survivors of gender violence and connected clients to advocacy projects and coalition meeting in New York City
  • Developed and implemented an advocacy support group for Black immigrant women impacted by gender violence
  • Testified in front of the New York City Council’s Committee on Immigration in support of a resolution to maintain the availability of asylum-related protections for individuals and families with a well-founded fear of persecution due to domestic violence

Next Steps

Following her Fellowship, Samah joined the Center for Constitutional Rights as a Bertha Justice Fellow, where she contributes to a wide range of impact litigation cases challenging racial oppression, gender oppression, and abusive state power. Samah continues to advocate for the rights of immigrant survivors of violence through litigation and advocacy.


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African Asylum-Seekers Could Bear Brunt of Proposed Travel Curbs

Episode 27: Abolition & Organizing in the time of COVID-19

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