Swapna Reddy

  • Hosted by Urban Justice Center
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Swapna used innovative methods to bring community support and emergency legal aid to asylum seekers in “legal aid deserts,” including border detention facilities and rural communities across the United States.

In recent years, asylum-seeking families have been under attack. Upon arrival, children have been separated from their parents, while parents have been prosecuted for bringing their children to safety. All have been detained. For those able to secure release, families must navigate complex legal systems in hostile environments, all without access to work, healthcare, or other basic rights. In the often isolated communities where they live, thousands are unable to find lawyers. Nationwide, fewer than 3% of families without lawyers have been successful in securing asylum, with thousands receiving deportation orders despite strong legal claims. Meanwhile, the press has reported the murder of asylum seekers after their wrongful deportation from the United States.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Swapna has:

  • Established the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) at the Urban Justice Center, growing the ASAP team to 6 full-time employees
  • Expanded the reach of ASAP’s emergency legal aid, preventing hundreds of deportations in over 25 states
  • Built a private online community where more than 2,750 asylum-seeking mothers access resources and mutual support
  • Mobilized hundreds of volunteers around the United States to carry out this work

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Swapna plans to:

  • Continue to grow ASAP into a sustainable nonprofit effort serving asylum seekers no matter where are located in the United States
  • Provide community support and legal assistance to thousands of additional asylum seekers nationwide
  • Work alongside immigrant communities to fight back against rising anti-immigrant sentiment and policies

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