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Currently, I am a Fellow for the Entrepreneurship for Good Program (Future of Audio Entertainment Challenge) at The DO School. I am a media professional, social entrepreneur and storyteller who experiments with media and art to document life, and I have worked with nonprofits, governments and campaigns internationally. I have an M.Sc. in Social & Cultural Anthropology from the London School of Economics & Political Science.
In this episode of Vox’s The Impact, local officials in Oakland, California handle the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants with a twist in the form of a social policy experiment: they provide immigrants arrested for violating immigration law or facing deportation with attorneys.
Although these violations are not criminal offenses, immigrants who are arrested are treated in the same manner as criminals – with the exception that all criminals have a right to an attorney in the United States. Without a lawyer, imagine defending yourself in front of a judge, especially if you do not speak the language. Not only can it be a harrowing experience but a potentially fatal one as in one instance, a person accidentally signed his own papers for voluntary deportation.
For many of the people that are summoned to court have left violent or life-threatening places: one of the interviewees, choosing to call herself “Fernanda,” describes her journey to escape a situation of domestic abuse and the wrath of the cartel which brought her to the United States. Without an understanding of legal processes or comprehension of English, those like Fernanda are fortunate when provided with a lawyer as “national research has found that immigrants who have lawyers are more than five times as likely to be successful in court.”
In addition to court representation, the city also provides information and support to communities in regard to their legal rights if and when confronted by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
This episode is a look at a city’s innovative approach in keeping communities together despite the outside agenda and under mounting national pressure, by remembering that people matter and we, as citizens, have the solutions.