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Accomplishments

Success on the Frontline

 

AI Justice has faced countless challenges and obstacles in pursuit of justice and human rights for our clients.  Even so, our team of dedicated, passionate professionals has achieved significant accomplishments: 

As a leader in the national battle against trafficking in persons, testified before the U.S. Senate during hearings on the international trafficking of women and children, participated in high-level Justice Department conferences, and appeared in a Justice Department training video for federal law enforcement officers.

Helped shape new laws expanding legal protections for unaccompanied immigrant children, and providing immigration relief to human trafficking survivors, incorporated into the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.  Also helped shape amendments to the law that helps domestic violence victims.

Won landmark cases extending asylum protection to new classes, including domestic violence victims, children forced to join street gangs, and members of groups opposing Haiti’s government.

Successfully challenged national Immigration policies in federal court affecting thousands of immigrants applying for citizenship and challenging conditions of detention.

Leader in fight for passage of DREAM Act and in obtaining deferred action for detained youth facing imminent removal. Represent the Trail of Dreams students who marched 1,500 miles to Washington, D.C., and several other high-profile students including Juan Gomez, who is now working at JP Morgan Chase in NYC.

Successfully advocated for improvement of the treatment of unaccompanied minors in detention, including the creation of a separate Miami court docket for children’s cases. 

Leader in Advocacy for Haitians. At the forefront of the fight for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, meeting with White House Domestic Policy Council and National Security Council members. Achieved the release of traumatized Haitian earthquake survivors in 2010 who had been detained by Immigration on arrival here though deportations were suspended at the time. Following a front-page story in The New York Times on their plight, some 60 Haitians nationwide were released that day.  Filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to determine the basis of our government’s current Haitian deportation policy. With the national law firm of Jenner & Block LLP, filed a federal lawsuit to compel ICE to disclose the requested documents.  Case is pending. 

Co-counseled one of the first lawsuitsNational Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders et al. v. Arizona — challenging Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law.  Led the legal team prepared to sue the state of Florida had an anti-immigrant bill been approved in 2011.

Represented 17 Mexican women and girls forced into sexual slavery by a group of smugglers who later were convicted in a high profile case and worked with a major local law firm to attain $1 millon in restitution on their behalf. 

Partnered with Harvard University Law School to file a successful legal action before the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect asylum applicants who flee by boat. 

Exposed sexual misdeeds by Immigration Detention and Deportation officers, which led to civil rights and FBI investigations, the conviction of some officers, and substantive changes at the Krome detention center.

Exposed deplorable conditions of Immigration detention in Florida’s Jackson County jail, which prompted a Justice Department investigation, a scathing report confirming detainee allegations, and the removal of all detainees from the jail. 

With Florida Legal Services successfully challenged the denial of citizenship to immigrants with disabilities who were unable to take the citizenship oath.

Testified on immigration issues before numerous national and international bodies, including the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration; (plus different Senate Committees re trafficking?); the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights; The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission; The Organization of American States; Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and The American Bar Association Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities. 

Helped change Florida policies that misclassified legal immigrants as out-of-state students for tuition purposes at public universities.

Obtained asylum for prominent human rights activists, including a Chilean investigative journalist who fled to Miami after police seized all copies of her book on corruption in her country’s highest court, a former member of Guatemala’s Truth Commission and a widely acclaimed Cuban documentary filmmaker. 

Conducted nationwide and international trainings on domestic violence and human trafficking for advocates, law enforcement and other government officials, through our Lucha/Nou Kab: A Women’s Legal Program.

Helped spearhead the creation of the Haitian Domestic Violence Initiative through our Nou Kab (We Can) program, along with with the Victim Advocate from the State of Florida Attorney General’s Office, Miami-Dade and Broward law-enforcement officials, shelter advocates and others to push for a reduction of domestic violence incidents in the Haitian Community.

Won millions of dollars in retroactive and annualized disability and other benefits for homeless clients, including some who had gone from homelessness to owning a home.

Incubated and supported the structural and financial sustainability of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, a statewide alliance of grassroots organizations actively working for fair treatment of Florida’s immigrants.

Extended services by drawing on pro bono attorneys who have donated more than 9,000 hours of work and legal interns who also donated 10,000 hours of time. (also put in funding request section).

Selected as partner agency for distinguished Fellows, including the Chesterfield Smith Community Service Fellowship from Holland & Knight to provide pro bono legal representation to the needy; selected for three prestigious Skadden Fellowships; three Echoing Green Fellows; and six Equal Justice Works Fellows. 

Issued groundbreaking reports including:

  • After the Earthquake: Haitian Children Seeking Safety in the United States
  • Unleash the DREAM:  End the Colossal Waste Of Young Immigrant Talent (released in April 2010 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.)
  • The War on Immigrants:  Stories from the Front Lines
  • The Human Cost of Immigrant Bashing
  • U.S. Immigration Detention Reforms; LexisNexis Emerging Issues Analysis
  • Dying for Decent Care:  Bad Medicine in Immigration Custody
  • Securing Our Borders:  Post 9/11 Scapegoating of Immigrant
  • Haitian Refugees:  A People In Search Of Hope
  • “I running out of hopely …” Profiles of Children in INS Detention in Florida
  • INS Detainees In Florida:  A Double Standard of Treatment Supplement
  • INS Detainees In Florida:  A Double Standard Of Treatment
  • Cries for Help:  Medical Care at Krome Service Processing Center and in Florida’s County Jails
  • Krome’s Invisible Prisoners:  Cycles of Abuse and Neglect

Garnered national media attention, including Sixty Minutes, Dateline, Nightline, Frontline, PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, AP, and Reuters.

Awards and Recognition include:

  • 2008 Morris Dees Justice Award, University of Alabama & Skadden Arps
  • Stephen M. Goldstein Award for Excellence, The Florida Bar Foundation
  • Shelia Wellston Institute Award, National Network to End Domestic Violence Against Immigrant Women
  • Heroes of the American Dream Award, National Immigration Forum
  • National Immigration Project Award, National Lawyers Guild
  • Trailblazer Award, National Black Prosecutors Association
  • Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Rosa S. O’Neill Outstanding Community Resource Award, U.S. Department of State
  • Prudential-Davis Productivity Award, Florida Department of Children and Families for work on child trafficking
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