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Q: Why did you join Tahirih’s Pro Bono Network?
A: As an immigrant whose path to citizenship was relatively straightforward, and one who has greatly benefited from naturalization, I consider it an obligation to assist those for whom the journey presents greater obstacles. Having served as a volunteer attorney at naturalization workshops – where the work is undoubtedly important, but involvement with an application is typically limited to an hour or less on the day of the workshop – I sought out other opportunities in the immigration field that would afford a deeper level of involvement through all stages of the process, offer challenging work on behalf of vulnerable individuals, and allow me to further develop my advocacy skills. When a Buckley Sandler colleague first introduced me to Tahirih’s remarkable work protecting immigrant women and children from gender-based violence, it was evident that working with Tahirih would check all my boxes.
Q: Share a highlight from a pro bono case with Tahirih.
A: Among the variety of cases Tahirih handles, U visa petitions are of particular interest to me, in large part because of the vital public policy reasons that underpin the visa program created to bolster the investigation and prosecution of certain crimes and to protect victims. Having spent some of my formative years in a country where migrant workers and stateless individuals were mistreated with impunity and lived under the ever-present threat of deportation, I am all too aware of the nexus between undocumented immigrant victims' reluctance to report abuse to the authorities—for fear of detention, deportation, familial separation, and loss of livelihood—and the perpetuation of criminal behavior by emboldened abusers. My first Tahirih client, an undocumented working mother of four with very limited English proficiency, unhesitatingly cooperated with authorities investigating her husband's reported abuse of two of her daughters and, without prodding from her legal team, continues to contact detectives to report overseas sightings of her absconded spouse and his attempts to communicate with her children. My client's fearless and unwavering pursuit of justice for herself and her children reveals a confidence in the process that, in my view, underscores the importance of, and provides validation for, the U visa program.
Q: How has your Pro Bono service impacted you?
A: By providing individual color to experiences that are often depicted as collective abstractions, my work with immigration-focused organizations such as Tahirih has given me a deeper appreciation for the many and varied challenges faced by some of my fellow immigrants along their paths to citizenship. Drafting a personal statement in the voice of my first U visa client required several hours of interviews to determine not only the facts surrounding her difficult life in her homeland, the harrowing journey to the United States, and the crimes at the center of the petition, but also the impact of the abuse on my client and two of her children, the derivative petitioners. These were, understandably, very difficult meetings for my client; what I had failed to appreciate at the outset, however, is the emotional impact these interviews would have on me and other members of the legal team. Although taxing, the intense and personal nature of the interviews solidified the client's trust in the team, tightened the bond among team members, and proved to be a powerful source of motivation when advocating for the client. The inspiration I have gained from the courage, resilience, and optimism displayed by some of our clients in the face of unimaginable adversity is but one of the many rewards that doing people-centered pro bono work gives me.

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meet more pro bono partners

  • Meghan Leibold Lidster
    Staff Attorney
    Richards Kibbee & Orbe
    It has been humbling to work with a client who, despite extreme hardship in her past, has been able to increasingly open up to me.
  • Lindsay Wright Brett
    Associate Attorney
    Baker & McKenzie LLP
    The women and children I've worked with over the years inspire me to take on new cases.
  • Alicia Balthazar, Deborah Wei, Maria A. Arboleda, & Marta Thompson
    Hogan Lovells US LLP
    Realizing the impact of the case’s outcome not just for our client but for her son, shows how these cases can be completely life changing for a family’s future.