On Wednesday, June 25, AABANY and Legal Services NYC held a joint pro bono initiative CLE training regarding U-Visas: “Immigration Relief for Low-Income Survivors of Domestic Violence” at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel.
Katrina Goyco and Karen Kithan Yau, Co-Chairs of AABANY’s Government Service and Public Interest Committee, welcomed the attendees and recognized Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, for AABANY’s hard work in organizing the first CLE event in AABANY’s Pro Bono project with Legal Services NYC to offer immigration relief to those most in need. Adam Heintz, Pro Bono Director of LSNYC, spoke about LSNYC’s history and mission before introducing the CLE presenters from LSNYC: Stephanie Taylor (Deputy Director of Domestic Violence/Family Law Advocacy Project), Sofia Khan (Staff Attorney for Domestic Violence/Family Law Advocacy Project for Queens Legal Services), and June Lee (Staff Attorney for Domestic Violence/Family Law Advocacy Project for Queens Legal Services and AABANY Pro Bono and Community Service Committee Co-Chair).
Sofia Khan gave a background of U-Visas, an immigration status that is often (though not necessarily) the first step to a naturalization path for undocumented victims of qualifying crimes, most prominently domestic violence, and described the types of clients that AABANY and Legal Services NYC plan to serve in this pilot Pro Bono project – primarily low-income women and families who have suffered mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Legal Services NYC and AABANY are working in conjunction to serve this marginalized group, which present a unique set of challenges including post-traumatic stress, limited English proficiency, and mistrust of the legal system due to the threat of their immigration status being used against them. June Lee presented the step-by-step process of U-Visa application, with emphasis on working with clients who are domestic violence survivors in any given stage of abuse or recovery.
The CLE presentation, along with all components of this pro bono project, offers unique targeted training to lawyers and law students to enable them to directly impact those eligible for U-Visas. AABANY and Legal Services NYC stress the necessary sensitivity in serving domestic violence victims whose trauma is oftentimes difficult to reveal to anyone, least of all the United States government. Attorneys and law students will partner on cases pre-screened by Legal Services NYC to interview survivors, prepare their narratives, and offer legal advice through the difficult-to-navigate path of immigration and citizenship. AABANY and Legal Services NYC welcome any and all attorneys or law students willing to donate their time.
Thank you to all who made this productive, informative, and important CLE possible: coordinators from both AABANY and Legal Services NYC, especially Government Service and Public Interest Committee Co-Chairs Katrina Goyco and Karen Kithan Yau, Pro Bono and Community Service Committee Co-Chair June Lee, Adam Heintz, Stephanie Taylor, and Sofia Khan; Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel for hosting, and all the attendees. We look forward to working with you and moving this project ahead.
Those interested in becoming involved with this pilot pro bono project should contact Katrina Goyco, Government Service and Public Interest Committee Co-Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) or complete this survey, aimed at assessing language skills and immigration experience: http://bit.ly/gspi_irdds.