Stephanie Bonilla

  • Hosted by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  • Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, Pfizer Inc.
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Boston University School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Stephanie provided immigration legal services to unaccompanied noncitizen youth by creating a medical legal partnership between Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA).

This project created a referral system between KIND and CHA to address unmet legal and medical needs of unaccompanied noncitizen youth served by CHA, one of Greater Boston’s largest public health care providers. KIND, the largest provider of representation for immigrant youth in Massachusetts, can refer its clients within the CHA system for medical and mental health services to support the stability and well-being of clients who have experienced trauma. The project also empowered health care providers, both through education and through the referral system, to support unaccompanied noncitizen patients by providing referrals to KIND. Beginning a pathway to status through KIND’s representation helped CHA patients access resources to support their well-being, including better health care coverage. Giving unaccompanied youth access to KIND’s services within CHA’s school-based teen health clinics promoted informed and immigrant-friendly teen health services and encouraged students to come forward and seek help before aging out of immigration relief eligibility.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Stephanie has:

  • Provided full representation to 55 clients between the ages of 3-21
  • Conducted legal consultations and referrals for over 260 clients, advising them of their legal status and referring them to other organizations and attorneys for additional support
  • Established a connection and referral system between KIND and CHA
  • Helped KIND become a trusted source of information in the community by giving 30 community presentations to 700 youth, parents, and community members
  • Collaborated with 20 immigration, healthcare, and human services organizations on important issues affecting the immigrant population such as policy changes and healthcare.

What’s Next

Stephanie will continue advocating for and representing immigrants at her new position as a staff attorney at The Law Offices of Talia Barrales, a Boston-based firm that focuses on immigration law. There, Stephanie will serve clients seeking legal status in the U.S. while also developing and deepening connections to social services organizations that can further support the needs of immigrants.

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