Zachary Manfredi

  • Hosted by Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Human Rights, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Zak worked with asylum-seeking parents and children to bring affirmative litigation and monetary damages cases based on the injuries they suffered due to family separation and family detention policies. Zak also brought a major successful lawsuit to secure the ability of asylum seekers to work lawfully in the United States, benefiting hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and counting.

Zak’s project addressed the ongoing harms of family separation by seeking compensation for asylum-seeking families. While the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) had focused on defensive asylum claims and court intervention to end unlawful detention policies, this project expanded the organization’s work to include affirmative litigation. Zak represented individuals wronged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and government contractors and worked to hold federal government actors and contractors accountable for actions and policies that deprived detained immigrants of basic human rights. Additionally, Zak also worked to secure and protect the ability of asylum seekers to secure work authorization to support themselves while their cases were pending.

Zak is inspired by the bravery of his clients who brave unspeakable danger to secure better lives for themselves and their families.

Fellowship Highlights

Zak helped place nearly 300 Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) cases for formerly separated families with pro bono counsel and assisted in answering over 350 requests for technical assistance. Zak organized four FTCA webinar training sessions and developed 13 templates and training materials as part of an FTCA toolkit, accessed by over 2,000 individuals. Zak also litigated several of these cases in federal court. Zak is now working to support ongoing settlement negotiations in these cases, which have the possibility of leading to one of the largest civil rights damages settlements in history. Zak also argued a major legal challenge to new rules that would have restricted asylum seekers’ access to work authorization, which secured a preliminary injunction. As of the conclusion of the fellowship term, over 100,000 asylum seekers and counting have benefited from this ruling.

Next Steps

After his fellowship, Zak will continue working at ASAP as the Litigation and Advocacy Director.

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