~This new web series takes a deep dive into the Tahirih Justice Center’s challenging yet rewarding work, and the champions who show up day after day to get it done.~
Since its inception one year ago, Tahirih’s newest office in the San Francisco Bay Area, California has hit the ground running, helping women and girls harness their rights, fight for justice, and pursue a brighter day. This work requires a certain type of individual, a champion of the marginalized, one who seeks, day in and day out, to walk hand in hand on an uncertain path with those who are oppressed, all the while utilizing everything within her to make justice manifest.
Leah Chen Price, Staff Attorney with the Bay Area office handles immigration cases for clients who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other gender-based crimes. She embodies what it requires to accompany Tahirih clients on such a path, and with her assistance, great things – change – are happening for the women and children Tahirih serves in California at a time when it is needed most.
The journey which ultimately brought Leah to her current work with Tahirih began during childhood. Being raised in a family of trail blazers, she was exposed early on to the world’s yearning and dire need for equality, progressive law, and effective action.
“I come from a family of civil rights activists, so I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career of service. I have fond memories from my childhood of attending protests with my parents, going to political events, and working on political campaigns. Both of my parents considered service as a privilege, not an obligation, and that sense of responsibility was passed down to me.
I studied history and political science, thinking I wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy. After college, I worked for a few law firms and was inspired by the power of law, not restricting people in terms of what they could and could not do, but as an empowering force to better peoples’ lives.
The training in my current field started in law school. I studied human rights, refugee law, and international development. I saw the law as an opportunity, a crossroads where my passion for human rights and the ability to stand with communities and advocate both with and for them could meet.”
Leah’s path in the name of justice and the pursuit of greater rights and freedoms for society’s most marginalized, took her many places, achieving greatness along the way. While in law school, Leah clerked with the Domestic Violence unit of Bay Area Legal Aid, the San Francisco and Alameda Counties Public Defender Offices, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and the Center for Justice and Accountability. She then began her legal career as an immigration attorney representing families fighting deportation proceedings in the San Francisco Immigration Court. Prior to joining Tahirih, Leah was the Human Trafficking Project Director with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach. There, she provided comprehensive legal services to survivors of human trafficking and coordinated a local anti-trafficking collaborative. Leah also serves as the Chair of Pangea Legal Services Board of Directors and is a former commissioner with the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission.
Leah’s inherent sense of self and vision of what the world could be has brought her here, to accompany the women and girls Tahirih serves. Her mission is motivated by passion, to use the law as a means for helping guide society to where it needs to be, this being a place of equality, security, and peace for all, regardless of the labels: undocumented, citizen, refugee, asylee, used to define us.
“Right now, the biggest challenge in our work is the anti-immigrant climate present in our nation. I have never seen clients and service seekers so afraid to advocate for their rights and to come forward and seek legal protection. There is a heightened climate of fear, distrust of law enforcement and the government, and insecurity about one’s future. Each case is much more complicated and nuanced than they were just a couple of years ago.
That being said, I find great inspiration in the courage and wisdom of our clients. Though we can never truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, I often try to imagine what I would have done had I been through what our clients have had to endure. Time and time again I am floored by the conviction that our clients have to risk their lives, their safety, their homes, and everything they know for a chance at a safer, better life for themselves and their children.”
Leah’s work with Tahirih has and will continue to make progress manifest, for her belief in the organization and what its staff can collectively achieve is unwavering.
“What I truly love about Tahirih is the holistic approach to the work we do. We see our clients as whole people, not just the immigration or family law problem that walks in the door. We often work with our clients for years, pursuing family reunification and ultimately permanent immigration status in the United States. Our clients are the heroes of our cases and continuously inspire us to do better and work harder. This is the Tahirih difference.”
Thank you to Leah and all the other incredible staff working in Tahirih’s Bay Area office. Seeing the work of the organization take flight, yet again, is inspiration the world needs now more than ever.