2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Beth Zilberman

Beth Zilberman

Name of Host Organization: Kids in Need of Defense
City, State: Boston, Massachusetts
Issue area: Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: Microsoft Corporation; Sidley Austin LLP

The Project

Beth is providing direct representation to unaccompanied immigrant female minors in the Boston area who have been victims of gender-based violence. She is also collaborating with mental health and medical providers to increase access to critical social services for these children.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
In recent months, the numbers of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in their home countries and entering the U.S. alone has increased significantly. These minors are being immediately placed in expedited deportation proceedings. Beth’s clients are among the most vulnerable unaccompanied minors whose well-being—and even their lives—are at risk if they are deported. Children cannot successfully navigate the complex immigration legal system alone, yet they are not afforded the right to appointed counsel in immigration proceedings. Beth’s project provides critical legal representation to traumatized children who would otherwise have to participate in proceedings alone. Beth is also using her expertise to mentor law firm and corporate pro bono attorneys.
Highlights to Date: 
In the first year, Beth has:
• Provided legal representation to young female survivors of gender-based violence who are facing deportation
• Developed best practices for legal representation and social services collaboration in serving this uniquely vulnerable population
• Created model filings for pro bono attorneys representing unaccompanied minors facing deportation
• Mentored pro bono attorneys representing unaccompanied minors in increasingly expedited and complex proceedings
What's Next: 
In the next year, Beth plans to:
• Continue providing direct legal representation to young female survivors of gender-based violence
• Continue to provide high-level mentorship to pro bono attorneys facing complex and expedited proceedings in the context of the surge of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence
• Generate additional model filings and guidance materials
• Continue to collaborate with social service providers and other stakeholders to ensure her clients—and similarly situated vulnerable minors—have access to the services they need

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