June 12, 2013

The Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law and Immigration Equality and Pride Law Fund have announced that recent Cardozo graduate Michelle Gonzalez is the winner of the first Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic Community Fellowship. Gonzalez will join Immigration Equality, the country’s premiere legal aid and advocacy organization working on behalf of LGBT immigrants and their families, for an 18 month fellowship.

Ms. Gonzalez, who graduated from Cardozo in May, will focus on representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people held in immigration detention, beginning in August 2013. She was in Cardozo’s Immigration Justice Clinic, where she successfully represented a transgender woman in deportation proceedings preventing her return to Mexico and the prospect of brutal persecution.

 “We are thrilled to add Michelle to our legal team,” said Victoria Neilson, the organization’s legal director. “Every year Immigration Equality’s life-saving direct legal services numbers have increased.   The greatest increase we have seen in direct representation cases is for detained clients, so adding a legal fellow to focus on direct representation detention work will greatly expand our capacity to help some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community. Michelle’s experience in the clinic with immigration issues, at Lambda Legal on LGBT issues, and interest in detention issues makes her a perfect fit for Immigration Equality.”

 "I am excited to begin my legal career serving my community with Immigration Equality," said Gonzalez. "It is a natural fit following the experience I gained in Cardozo's clinics."  

The fellowship was funded by the generous support of The JPB Foundation.

The Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic has made national headlines for its advocacy work in immigration reform since it’s inception five years ago. The clinic responds to the vital need today for quality legal representation for indigent immigrants facing deportation, while also providing students with invaluable hands-on lawyering experience. Students in the clinic represent immigrants facing deportation before federal immigration authorities and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and represents immigrant community-based organizations on litigation and advocacy projects. 

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Founded in 1994, Immigration Equality is the country’s premiere legal aid and advocacy organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law and working on behalf of LGBT immigrants and their families. The organization runs a pro bono asylum project to assist LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers to find free or low-cost legal representation and maintains a list of LGBT/HIV-friendly private immigration attorneys to provide legal representation for those seeking help. The organization also provides technical assistance to attorneys who are working on sexual orientation, transgender identity, or HIV status-based asylum applications, or other immigration applications where the client’s LGBT or HIV-positive identity is at issue in the case.

www.immigrationequality.org

The Pride Law Fund promotes the legal rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and people living with HIV and AIDS, by funding summer fellowships for law students and year-long fellowships for recent law school graduates working at nonprofit organizations on special projects, education and outreach and providing legal services.  The 2010-2011 Tom Steel Fellowship is funded, in part, by generous donations from Fenwick & West LLP and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom.

www.pridelawfund.org