PRO BONO OPPORTUNITIES
Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach’s Anti-Human Trafficking Project was established with the passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Since 2000, the Project continues to engage in legislative and policy advocacy on behalf of trafficking survivors, as well as provide comprehensive and holistic direct legal and social services.
API Legal Outreach relies on pro bono attorneys to expand and facilitate our work in the Anti-Human Trafficking Project with victims’ complex legal needs. Currently, the program includes the following opportunities:
For undocumented victims of human trafficking, not having valid immigration status can cause them to be more vulnerable and be at risk of re-exploitation. Undocumented victims are also unable to work lawfully and may be ineligible for the services and public benefits that they need to rebuild their lives. Attorneys can represent foreign-born victims of human trafficking in pursuing various forms of immigration relief, including petitions for T or U nonimmigrant status.
This would require several meetings with clients, document review and preparation, declaration composition, and final review of the application. The applications are submitted by mail to USCIS. T visas may also require providing legal representation and/or advocacy during victim’s interviews with law enforcement, as cooperation with law enforcement is a prerequisite to obtaining the T or U visa relief.
Once the client’s T or U visa is approved, clients may also seek our services for Adjustment of Status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. The Project also seeks pro bono attorneys for this process. Adjustments of Status may be a good option for pro bono attorneys who cannot commit to providing as much assistance that a T or U visa would require.
Many of our clients may interact with law enforcement in their investigations and/or prosecutions. For a victim, interacting with law enforcement can be a very scary experience. Attorneys are needed to assist victims in their interactions with law enforcement to ensure that their needs and rights are being met. This could include accompaniment with the victim to meetings with criminal investigators and prosecutors, advocacy for the issuance of Continued Presence (a type of temporary immigration relief available for foreign born trafficking victims), advocacy for the safety of the victim and their family members, and assisting the victim in preparing a victim impact statement for the courts, if trafficking is convicted and sentenced.
Victims of human trafficking have often been arrested and/or convicted of offenses as a part of their trafficking experience. Such convictions can be a heavy burden on a victim in their reintegration into society and can carry enormous stigma and inhibit survivors from obtaining employment, housing, education, and licensing. Fortunately, California recently implemented a vacatur law that went into effect on January 1, 2017. This new law offers survivors the relief many need to vacate non-violent arrests and convictions from their criminal history records. Vacatur relief permanently removes a conviction from an individual’s criminal record, thereby providing the victim to a new beginning and greater access to opportunities. Pro bono attorneys can assist victims in preparing and filing vacatur motions in California’s criminal courts.