Selene Dominguez Pena

The Project

This Fellowship was focused on continuing the fight towards eradicating human trafficking by representing and empowering survivors. Survivors of Labor and Sex Trafficking make up a population notably referred to as a form of Modern Day Slavery. For many immigrant survivors, a T Nonimmigrant Visa is their only hope to a full pathway to recovery, independence, and U.S. Citizenship. By partnering with Homeland Security investigations and social service agencies, like the International Rescue Committee, this Fellowship sought to provide holistic legal services to these survivors. 

Selene has been an activist against human trafficking since 2013. As a female immigrant from a small ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico, she understands the plight of immigrants in this country. For this reason, she has a sincere passion in advocating for our most vulnerable communities. Through her work, Selene strives to assure freedom as the most fundamental right to each of her clients. 

Fellowship  

Throughout her Fellowship, Selene built partnerships with a variety of agencies that help provide legal support to survivors of trafficking. In order to increase community awareness and education, she developed and conducted trainings on how to identify and better serve survivors of human trafficking for legal advocates and social service providers. Selene also provided direct representation to both detained and non-detained survivors of trafficking in Washington federal courts. 

The Project

In Ohio, criminal records are used to deny individuals employment opportunities as well as safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, many survivors of human trafficking accrue substantial criminal records as a consequence of trafficking. Gabriel’s mission is to help these victims navigate the criminal legal system and eliminate legal barriers that have been placed upon them.

As an attorney with labor and employment experience, Gabriel has seen first-hand how criminal records can impact an individual’s effort to gain stable, rewarding employment. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Gabriel offered legal assistance and education to help survivors of human trafficking remove criminal-records-based barriers to employment and housing, utilizing Ohio’s Safe Harbor expungement laws.

I’m excited and thankful to Equal Justice Works for the opportunity to give back and help reshape our community for the better. I went to law school with the hope of becoming the type of attorney that works towards the goals I am striving to accomplish today!

Gabriel Fletcher /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

The scope of the need for legal services to survivors of campus sexual assault in Arkansas is vast. With two large universities and 16 community colleges in the service area, statistics (but not actual reporting numbers) tell us that thousands of young people in Arkansas have been victimized while attending one of the colleges. Unlike many urban areas, Arkansas does not have a robust network of nonprofit legal centers. Indeed, there are currently no organizations with a focus on providing legal representation to survivors of sexual assault, let alone one focusing on campus sexual assault. This Fellowship sought to fill that gap and initiate a concerted effort to provide comprehensive legal services to survivors. 

Candice’s Fellowship took a two-prong approach to tackle the problem of campus rape and sexual assault. First, Candice built relationships with and provided educational/training opportunities to university students, faculty, and staff; private attorneys; law enforcement agencies; community-based service providers; pro bono attorneys; and other community stakeholders. Second, she provided comprehensive, culturally-competent, trauma-informed legal services to survivors of campus sexual assault. 

As a former student survivor of sexual assault, Candice is personally motivated to ensure that students receive critical legal services to aid in their pursuit of justice. 

The Project

For the past 50 years, Legal Aid Chicago has provided people living in poverty in metropolitan Chicago with comprehensive free legal services to resolve non-criminal issues. Each year, Legal Aid Chicago’s more than 80 full-time attorneys and support staff help resolve civil legal problems, including consumer fraud, foreclosure, unfair evictions, domestic violence, and many others. Legal Aid Chicago’s work helps about 35,000 people annually. The Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group at Legal Aid Chicago represents clients in all types of immigration and employment matters, and the majority of work covers the entire state of Illinois. Through the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project IWR provides high quality civil legal services to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers across Illinois. In addition, IWR runs a state-wide program, the Trafficking Survivors Assistance Program (TSAP). 

Eduardo provided direct legal services to human trafficking survivors to address the range of civil legal issues that arise from the victimization. He worked with a variety of survivors from diverse backgrounds, including low-wage workers, immigrants, migrant farmworkers, short-term visa holders, citizens, non-citizens, and other individuals. 

Eduardo’s past experiences equipped him with the vital tools that are needed to be a zealous advocate for human rights. Prior to law school, Eduardo was a volunteer with City Year, Inc. (an AmeriCorps program) in Chicago, Illinois, dedicating two years to serve the underserved communities of ChicagoHe gained invaluable skills in fostering relationships with people of diverse backgrounds and service partners, planning and organizing, and being a part of a team and a leader. In addition, Eduardo also has his own personal story that ties him to the communities LAF serves. When he was still in his mother’s womb, his parents and two older sisters emigrated from Mexico to Rochelle, Illinois. He remembers that in the second grade his father required him to learn by memory his social security number. He has never forgotten it since, and he has never forgotten the importance of those 9 digits to him and what it means to many others. Eduardo is a firm believer that everyone is equal and that human rights are everyone’s rights.