2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Maria Blumenfeld

Maria Blumenfeld

Name of Host Organization: National Immigrant Justice Center
City, State: Goshen, Indiana
Issue area: Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: Microsoft Corporation; Reed Smith LLP

The Project

Create and implement legal systems to secure access to justice for unaccompanied immigrant children (UICs) and formerly detained families in Indiana, an underserved area.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Unaccompanied immigrant children (UICs) and family units from Central America have entered the United States in unprecedented numbers in recent years. Though the vast majority of the UICs and families who entered during this influx have been released from government custody, nearly all of them must fight their cases in an adversarial system without the benefit of appointed counsel. The ability of these UICs and families to secure protection is directly tied to their ability to find attorneys.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Maria is the right person for the project because:
• She is an immigrant herself and knows first-hand the struggles that immigrants face when trying to understand and navigate the immigration system.
• For the last two years she has successfully represented numerous UICs before the asylum office and the immigration court, and has honed the skills necessary to develop rapport with vulnerable immigrant children and families.

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