Jacqueline Kelley

The Project

Facilitate access to safety and stability for low-income immigrant survivors of domestic violence in Greater Boston through direct representation, community collaboration and outreach.

Immigrant survivors of domestic violence encounter staggering barriers to safety and independence, including language barriers, ineligibility for basic social support, irregular employment eligibility, and fear of deportation. This project was born out of the urgent need witnessed by community partners for comprehensive, direct representation of immigrant survivors in Greater Boston. Overtaxed legal services have led to a critical gap in assistance to survivors, unnecessarily keeping them in dangerous and unhealthy situations. To meet this need, the project forged a new partnership between the Irish International Immigrant Center and the Domestic Violence Institute of Northeastern University School of Law. This partnership combines full representation before U.S. immigration agencies with advocacy in abuse prevention and family law.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Jacqueline has:

  • Represented dozens of survivors before federal immigration agencies, obtaining work authorization and permanent immigration status for all clients who have received decisions to date;
  • Provided advice and counsel to hundreds of immigrant survivors, ensuring these individuals knew their rights, immigration options and best avenues towards legal status;
  • Trained 160 allies and partners in options for domestic violence-based immigration relief; and
  • Taught and consulted with 90 law students representing immigrant survivors in civil matters.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Jacqueline plans to:

  • Work as a full-time immigration attorney at Irish International Immigrant Center, focusing on representing immigrant survivors of trauma and violence;
  • Continue to develop key community partnerships to ensure that immigrant survivors have swift access to trustworthy legal consultations and full representation; and
  • Advocate for the rights of all immigrants in the face of overwhelming xenophobic policies and anti-immigrant rhetoric and for comprehensive, human immigration reform.

The Project

Karin restored vulnerable veterans’ rights to VA resources through direct representation of discharge upgrades/VA benefits applications and strengthen ties between the legal and veteran’s community.

The consequences of war affect our veterans long after they return from deployment. The benefits available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are essential to a successful transition back to civilian life. However, many veterans encounter significant barriers to the benefits they deserve, most notably difficulty navigating the claims process and preclusive discharge statuses.

When Karin started at LASC, the Columbus legal community was not equipped to address the needs of the 110,000 veterans living there. Karin’s fellowship started a sustainable veterans law practice at LASC and revived a dormant statewide veterans law task force. She also worked with community partners to foster additional collaboration between social service agencies serving veterans.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Karin has:

  • Increased LASC’s presence and relationships in the veterans’ community by adding on-site brief advice hours and estate planning clinics at VA medical centers and a veteran-focused homeless shelter.
  • Increased LASC’s capacity to serve veterans by recruiting new 6 pro bono volunteer attorneys and a new veterans law fellow focused on engaging with community contacts developed during Karin’s fellowship.
  • Obtained lump sum payments and debt write-offs for 15 veterans totaling $97,886.13 and monthly benefits payments for 10 veterans totaling $7,631.59.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Karin plans to remain at LASC as a staff attorney, splitting her time between VA benefits, discharge upgrades, and education work. She will also serve as the direct supervisor for LASC’s newest veterans law fellow. She is grateful to her sponsors, the Procter & Gamble Co. and Jones Day, for the opportunity to spend two years focused on establishing a veterans law practice at LASC.