This is a guest blog post from justice AmeriCorps Fellow Charity Ramsey (’15), of Kids in Need of Defense in Seattle, Washington.
My name is Charity Ramsey, and I am an AmeriCorps member serving at Kids in Need of Defense in Seattle, through the justice AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps has facilitated my dream job. I became an attorney because I care deeply about social justice issues and wanted to do something about things like trafficking, genocide, and domestic violence. I wanted to be equipped to stand up as a voice for those who do not have a voice, for the oppressed and the downtrodden, for those with educational and language barriers keeping them from standing up for their rights, oftentimes at the cost of their lives. Because of justice AmeriCorps, I get to do just that—stand up for voiceless children in our immigration system.
Through justice AmeriCorps, I have been able to provide direct legal representation to 68 Central American immigrant children who otherwise would have had to represent themselves in front of an immigration judge. These children arrived at the US border alone and scared, fleeing from things far more frightening than immigration officials or the journey itself. Instead, they fled from severe, life-threatening violence such as physical and sexual abuse, forced participation in gang activity or sexual servitude, and threats of death. When they face deportation, they risk being sent back into violence with no one to protect them, because the governments of their home countries do not have the capacity to stop the violence.
For these children, having an attorney is in itself a victory. They have someone to stand in the gap for them, to help them understand the process and overcome their fears, and to tell their story in a way that shows why they qualify for protection in the United States. With someone to be that voice, these children are five times more likely to win their cases.
Serving as the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, I have been able to help 6 children obtain legal status in the United States. There are an additional 45 applications for relief pending so far. I am only one of many fellows in the justice AmeriCorps program. There is still much work to do, but we are up to the challenge, and through justice AmeriCorps we will get things done.