2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Rosibel Mancillas Lopez

Rosibel Mancillas Lopez

Name of Host Organization: Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc.
City, State: San Diego, California
Issue area: Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

The Project

Rosibel empowered indigenous Mexican immigrants in San Diego County through community organizing to reduce linguistic and cultural barriers that inhibit their understanding of and access to the legal system.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Indigenous Mexican immigrants are frequently the victims of ineffective assistance of counsel and are prey for notarios who falsely claim to know the law. Language is one of the biggest challenges indigenous Mexicans face. They are presumed to speak Spanish, but it is not their native language and, in most instances, they do not understand it at all. Additionally, this population struggles to understand basic legal concepts and rights that are not found in their culture. This creates difficulty in providing legal advice and services, as these must be explained in a culturally sensitive manner to ensure understanding.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Rosibel has:
• Raised awareness about the indigenous Mexican community in San Diego County through cultural sensitivity presentations that provided information about the issues indigenous Mexican individuals face in obtaining legal services and how we can better work with them to ensure we are providing effective assistance
• Performed outreach and education to the community through general immigration presentations which provided information on immigration benefits/relief and eligibility to apply
• Provided direct representation to 65 clients in immigration matters varying from family petitions to VAWA/U-visa petitions for victims of domestic violence and other crimes, to naturalization applications
The Right Person For This Project: 
Rosibel is the rights person for the project because:
• As an immigrant herself, she has firsthand knowledge about navigating the immigration legal system
• Her personal connection to the community drove her to be involved in community organizations assisting immigrants, such as the San Diego Organizing Project, where she engaged in community organizing to help meet the needs of the immigrant community of Linda Vista
• She volunteered with the Legal Aid of San Diego during law school to help clients resolve their immigration legal needs

© 2016 Equal Justice Works - 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-4511