Whitney Braunstein

  • Hosted by The Bronx Defenders
  • Sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Service location Bronx, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Whitney represents LGBTQ+ immigrants in New York City in immigration court and affirmative immigration applications, as well as advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ immigrants held in immigration detention regarding their conditions of confinement.

Deeply rooted homophobia, transphobia, racism, and sexism manifest in immigration enforcement,detention, and court. LGBTQ+ people face hostility and lack of understanding from judges, prosecutors,and detention custodians; even their own attorneys may fail to understand, respect, and appropriatelyadvocate for their clients’ experiences and identities. Additionally, immigrant New Yorkers may be detained at a wide range of jails and detention centers throughout New York and New Jersey, which heightens the risk of violence queer and trans individuals may face due to the wide variety of federal, state, and local actors involved in their detention.

As a queer, first-generation American, Whitney’s commitment to providing culturally competent immigration representation and conditions of confinement advocacy for queer and trans immigrants is deeply personal. She is passionate about providing access to quality immigration representation and advocacy that creates space for individuals’ full, authentic identities and selves.

Fellowship Plans

Whitney will represent LGBTQ+ clients in removal proceedings and affirmative immigration applications, ranging from asylum to U visas for victims of serious crimes and T visas for survivors of human trafficking, all with a culturally competent lens to affirm the experiences of LGBTQ+ clients and translate those experiences into the immigration legal system’s context. She will also design and conduct cultural competency trainings with agencies that interact with queer and trans immigrants in and from the Bronx, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Executive Office on Immigration Review, and the four facilities at which immigrants from New York are most commonly detained. Whitney will also create LGBTQ+-specific immigration Know Your Rights materials for community members to educate and empower themselves to be their own best advocates and take control of their experience with the immigration legal system.


Five NYU Law graduates named 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellows

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