Dan (he/him/his) supports worker empowerment in the Twin Cities’ construction industry through the Building Dignity and Respect (BDR) Campaign and help workers defend their workplace rights.
Workers in the East African community of the Twin Cities are joining together to win better working conditions for themselves and all workers. As a community of 100,000 individuals, many of whom work in low-wage industries, they have faced unsafe workplaces, a lack of religious accommodations, and retaliation when they have tried to stand up for their rights.
Dan supports streamlined processes to handle wage theft claims and other labor violations that construction workers face; promote awareness-raising, education and training for construction workers on BDR standards; and promote the implementation of BDR standards at the municipal level and where Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En La Lucha works.
Paul engaged in habeas corpus and other federal immigration litigation to defend low-income immigrants in Minnesota against unlawful immigration detention.
Recent years have seen unprecedented numbers in federal immigration detention under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The impact of mass immigration incarceration is particularly acute in Minnesota, as the state is home to large immigrant and refugee populations, including the nation’s largest population of Somalis. While procedurally complicated, federal habeas actions are the most powerful tool to defend noncitizens’ individual liberties. Unfortunately, the vast majority of detainees lack counsel and only a handful of Minnesota attorneys have habeas expertise in the immigration context
Paul applied to law school while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Guatemala. His experiences there repeatedly demonstrated the vital importance of working to ensure each and every person has equal access to the justice system and inspired him to spend his career representing similarly marginalized and underrepresented populations.
During his Fellowship, Paul:
- Represented a medically vulnerable individual in a case challenging her continued detention during the COVID-19 pandemic and secured her release after 18 months in immigration detention.
- Challenged the constitutionality of an immigrant’s prolonged detention during withholding-only proceedings and secured his release after nearly 20 months of civil detention.
- Co-counseled Pedro O. v. Garland, the First District of Minnesota habeas decision requiring the government to bear the burden of proof at an initial bond hearing ordered for a noncitizen detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c).
- Prevented the imminent deportation of a United States citizen and secured his release after 10 months in ICE custody.
Paul continues to work for his host organization, ACLU of Minnesota, as a staff attorney. His work focuses on defending and expanding the constitutional rights of noncitizens subject to civil immigration detention.
Cities, counties and the state are beginning to purchase foreclosed properties. They’re doing it, primarily, with federal money. When they fix them, rent them, or sell them, they will do so in a way that will further fair housing goals. Luke’s project focused on using policy advocacy, direct representation, and litigation to ensure that these entities did not employ the same racial steering and predatory practices that led to the foreclosures in the first place.
The goal of my project is to enforce the right to effective communication for deaf and hard of hearing people within Minnesota’s criminal justice system. Many deaf Minnesotans communicate primarily in American Sign Language. For these individuals, written and oral communication is not effective to convey critical information during police encounters or while incarcerated. My work includes direct representation, legislative advocacy and collaboration with government agencies and community groups. I communicate with most clients directly in ASL.
Recent legislation in Minnesota provides increased civil remedies for vulnerable adults who are victims of financial exploitation. This project will combine litigation, legislative advocacy and community education as well as help further the efforts of elder care advocates so as to protect the rapidly growing population of seniors from this increasingly pervasive type of abuse.
Carrie established a medical-legal partnership at the Hennepin County Medical Center’s Whittier Clinic in a neighborhood where one-third of families with children under 18 years old live in poverty. She provided legal services to Whittier Clinic patients whose health problems are rooted in socio-economic disparities.
A 2010 study by the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation of Minnesota found that people living in the poorest neighborhoods of Minneapolis-St. Paul live up to 13 fewer years than people living in wealthy suburbs. To a large extent, the disparity is due to prevent¬able inequities, such as substandard living conditions and limited financial resources. For example, people become sick when land¬lords refuse to maintain residences to comply with building codes. Often, conditions contributing to poor health can be ameliorated with appropriate legal assistance.
During her Fellowship, Carrie has:
- Established a Medical-Legal Partnership through which over 500 patients have been referred
- Presented 12 trainings for the Whitter medical providers on legal issues affecting their patients, including: employment law, housing law, and immigration law
- Represented or referred to Legal Aid for representation cases that have resulted, among other things, in improved immigration status, access to health insurance, improved housing conditions, state-wide improvements to access to food benefits, and safer conditions for victims of domestic violence
- Started two ongoing bi-monthly pro bono workshops for clinic patients: a DACA renewal workshop and an eviction expungement workshop
Where are they now?
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Carrie will continue running the medical-legal partnership which has received a guarantee of at least two years further funding.
Tiara will maximize safe and affordable housing opportunities for Housing Choice Voucher holders, the majority of whom are persons of color and families, in the growing and prospering communities along the planned light rail line in the Twin Cities’ Southwest Corridor
Gaining access to opportunity is getting harder everyday due to the increasing refusal by housing providers to accept Housing Choice (“Section 8”) Vouchers. Low-income voucher holders often feel forced to live in certain areas because the neighborhoods with good schools and easier access to quality jobs do not accept the vouchers; thus, Housing Choice Voucher holders often lives in areas with higher levels of poverty.
The Southwest LRT, a proposed rail line connecting Minneapolis to the region’s southwest suburbs, holds potential to connect voucher holders to better schools and better jobs. However, complexes that are sited along the line are already choosing to stop accepting vouchers, anticipating the demand for housing close to transit. The time is ripe to examine this issue and develop new strategies to keep and expand housing choice.
During her Fellowship, Tiara:
- Collected and analyzed data of changes in rental housing along the existing Twin Cities’ light rail lines
- Collected national data regarding the utilization and mobilization of vouchers in comparable markets
- Overlaid data with race data in comparable markets
- Identified, meet with, and established agreements for coordinated work with staff of existing groups with related missions
- Attended meetings and monitored national and local publications, minutes, and other sources of information relating to source of income protections and development along the Corridor
- Provided direct representation in housing discrimination cases