Bavani Sridhar

The Project

Bavani (she/her/hers) will create an innovative medical-legal partnership addressing the health inequities of Los Angeles’ underserved Asian Pacific Islander (API) population through language access and culturally informed legal services.

In Los Angeles County, approximately 43% of Asian Pacific Islanders are limited in their English proficiency, which can serve as an insurmountable barrier to obtaining basic needs. Language barriers, heightened racism, and generational poverty translate to a high prevalence of negative health outcomes and limited access to justice for the API community. Evidence-based research has proven that such racism and language barriers are fundamental causes of racial health disparities. Although medical-legal partnerships have been successful in addressing the social determinants of health, they often lack a race-conscious lens to account for racial health inequities. This project seeks to improve API health outcomes by improving culturally competent and linguistically accessible practices and reducing institutional barriers to care.

Fellowship Plans

Bavani will create a medical-legal service pathway within the existing healthcare structure of Community Medical Wellness Center and provide holistic legal services to Asian Pacific Islander patients. In addition to direct legal services, she will also conduct legal screening trainings for healthcare staff and host legal clinics. She will employ a race-conscious lens to challenge existing structures of poverty and unequal power within the legal and medical systems.

Media

Four Northeastern Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Health justice cannot be achieved without prioritizing racial justice. It is my firm belief that every individual is entitled to equitable, quality care.

Bavani Sridhar /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Clarisa promotes and enforces immigrants’ rights to access health care in California’s rural Central Valley by providing direct immigration legal services, conducting community education and outreach, and engaging in litigation and policy advocacy.

Immigrant families are often excluded from our health care and public benefits systems, oftentimes due to their immigration status, and other times because of complex eligibility and income restrictions, language access barriers, and fear of immigration consequences for seeking public assistance. Moreover, immigrant families in California’s Central Valley lack access to affordable legal services to inform them of their immigration relief options and health care rights. These access barriers have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and exclusionary immigration policies, such as the constantly changing “public charge” rules, which have caused otherwise qualifying immigrant families or their US citizen children to disenroll or avoid public benefits for fear of being disqualified from obtaining lawful status.

From her own family’s experiences with the health care system, Clarisa understands that underserved minority patients can suffer poorer health outcomes, and even death, because of discriminatory practices. Her family’s perseverance motivates her to improve health outcomes and access to health care for immigrant families through legal intervention.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Clarisa has:

  • Reached 2,000+ individuals through 50+ community presentations on immigrant rights to health care.
  • Provided more than 20 trainings to health, education, and social services providers (i.e., doctors, social workers, promotoras, community-based organizations, school administrators, and educators).
  • Engaged in two impact litigation cases, one related to notario fraud and one related to what proof is required for immigrants to obtain Medi-Cal access.
  • Represented more than 40 individuals in U visa, VAWA self-petitions, and other immigration cases.
  • Provided individual legal consultations and brief services to more than 150 individuals on immigration issues.

Next Steps

In the next year, Clarisa plans to:

  • Continue ongoing immigration cases, community education presentations, and training health care and social services providers on immigrant rights to access to health care and public benefits.
  • Collaborate with CRLAF’s coalition of legal partners to strategize how to best ensure that some of the reforms that have been implemented during the COVID-19 continue after the pandemic.
  • Work with federally qualified health centers and community-based organizations to expand community education and immigration legal services in collaboration with ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Media

Clarisa Reyes-Becerra ’19 Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowship

As the granddaughter of immigrant farmworkers, I endeavor to expose and fight the exclusionary policies discriminately affecting the health of immigrant farmworkers in the Central Valley, and make their stories heard, known, and accounted for.

Clarisa Reyes-Becerra /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow