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Headshot of Shawntel Williams

Shawntel Williams

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)
  • Sponsored by Albertsons, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school The University of Michigan Law School
  • Issue area Human Trafficking and Victim’s Rights Enforcement, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Shawntel (she/her/hers), in partnership with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, advocates on behalf of Filipino migrants who are identified as survivors of labor trafficking by providing them with holistic legal representation to redress the economic and emotional harm they have endured throughout their trafficking.

The Philippines is among the top five nationalities of identified labor trafficking victims in the United States, found most often in domestic labor work such as caregiving and housekeeping. These jobs are often accompanied by abhorrent and abusive living conditions. Filipino victims of labor trafficking need comprehensive, culturally responsive, and linguistically appropriate legal services that combat obstacles resulting from their victimization. This expanded access to justice can lessen the vulnerabilities often exploited by traffickers and empower Filipino survivors of trafficking by securing their economic stability and immigration status.

Fellowship Plans

With a focus on community outreach, Shawntel will deepen partnerships with organizations in Southern California actively involved in advocating for Filipino workers’ rights by establishing an extensive referral system and creating the first on-site and virtual human trafficking legal services focused on the Filipino community in this region. Through these legal clinics, Filipino victims of trafficking can access holistic civil legal support to overcome barriers such as immigration status that are often exploited by traffickers. With the assistance of pro bono attorneys, Shawntel will address wage theft and public benefits claims and assist victims in accessing immigration relief. Shawntel, who is fluent in Tagalog, will expand outreach to the Filipino migrant community by providing free legal services and linguistic education for monolingual Tagalog speakers.

Raised by Filipino immigrants, Shawntel is grateful to have the opportunity to advance economic justice for the Filipino migrant community and help tackle the largely unaddressed issue that is labor trafficking. She hopes that this project can serve as a sustainable model for establishing additional human trafficking clinics focused on providing comprehensive legal services to other vulnerable populations.

Media

Law Fellow To Lead Legal Clinic for Trafficked Filipino Domestic Workers

I believe that expanded access to trauma-informed and community-centered legal services is vital in helping a survivor regain the autonomy often stifled or lost during the course of their trafficking.

Shawntel Williams /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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