Past Maggio Fellows

2022 Ouranitsa Abbas

2022 Maggio Fellow, Ouranitsa Abbas

Ouranitsa Abbas

As the 2022 Maggio Fellow, Ouranitsa Abbas worked with Luminus Network for New Americans, Inc., in Columbia, MD.  She chose a unique method to build capacity at Luminus by focusing on creating systems that increased effective, efficient, and ethical legal practice with an eye towards practitioner wellness.  With over a decade of previous immigration experience under her belt, Ouranitsa knew that nonprofits often fail to focus on the systems that can help their work with clients.  She focused on creating efficient pipelines with templates and samples to encourage new staff to process high-volume application types confidently and competently, like work permit applications and DACA renewal filings.

Ouranitsa also oversaw trainings that focused on the ethical importance of managing client expectations, maintaining appropriate boundaries, and conducting disciplined follow-up to meet deadlines.  Her presence anchored the summer after much staff turnover, and her innovative approaches to teambuilding helped foster a sense of group and individual ownership over every project, from tackling a massive file audit to deciphering the next complicated Request for Evidence received.

Ouranitsa decided to focus on the “how” behind providing legal services.  Focusing on the “how” allows Luminus to run a more effective, efficient, and ethical legal services in the long run, all while maintaining healthier staff wellbeing.  In the meanwhile, Ouranitsa will be graduating with a J.D. and M.S. in Negotiations and Conflict Management, plus graduate certificates in Trauma-Informed and Organizational Leadership, from The University of Baltimore in May 2024.  You may reach her at ouranitsa.abbas@ubalt.edu.

 



2021 Maria Frischling

Maria Frischling

Maria Frischling was awarded the Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Fellowship in 2021 to work with Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA), a non-profit organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana, that provides pro bono representation for detained immigrants and advocates for just and humane immigration policy. During the spring and summer of 2021, Maria worked with ISLA Directors and Co-founders, Homero López and Allyson Page, on a collaborative project with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights to investigate the inhumane use of solitary confinement inside ICE detention centers in Louisiana, specifically the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center. The project involved interviewing immigrants who were previously and currently detained at Pine Prairie to get firsthand accounts of their experiences being placed into segregated housing, i.e., “Special Management Unites,” and living under dire conditions in a facility lacking proper medical care, psychiatric care, food, water, and sanitation.

Maria assisted in drafting, revising, and translating a legal complaint, which was filed on June 21, 2021, with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. This complaint outlined the atrocious conditions that immigrants detained at Pine Prairie face while awaiting their immigration court proceedings and highlighted the facility’s inhumane use of punitive solitary confinement, oversight in providing immigrants with access to potable drinking water and edible food, failure to properly mitigate the spread of viral infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and egregious treatment of those who need medical attention. In addition, Maria participated in the launch of a simultaneous advocacy campaign across social media platforms to spread awareness about ICE’s abusive detention practices and to amplify immigrant voices in the fight against inhumane immigration policy. For several weeks she worked alongside advocates and creatives at RFK Human Rights to create an animated infographic sharing the stories of three anonymous individuals who were indefinitely detained at Pine Prairie under traumatizing conditions.

Apart from assisting with this project, Maria gained experience working directly with clients in ICE detention. She took on the case of a political asylum applicant who was detained at the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Jena, Louisiana, who was seeking release on bond to reunite with his family here. Maria drafted and filed a motion for custody redetermination with the immigration court, attended his bond hearing, and submitted a release request to ICE officials. She worked with many families and sponsors of detained immigrants to prepare parole request applications, collect supporting evidence, and translate original documents from Spanish to English as well. Maria also assisted her colleagues at ISLA in preparing evidence for BIA appeals.

Maria is currently in her third and final year of law school at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She will be graduating in May 2022 with a Certificate in Immigration and Citizenship Law and Practice and will sit for the Louisiana Bar Exam in July 2022. Maria is currently a student practitioner in Loyola’s Immigration Law Clinic where she has worked on a wide range of immigration cases, such as affirmative and defensive asylum applications, I-485 adjustments, I-360 special immigrant juvenile status applications, cancellation of removal, and naturalization. During her 2L year, Maria wrote an article highlighting the research of the RFK Human Rights attorneys titled “Exposing Flagrantly Inhumane Uses of Solitary Confinement in U.S. Immigration Detention: A Case Study on Louisiana’s Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center,” which will be published in the Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law in the upcoming Spring 2022 issue. After graduation, she hopes to gain employment in the field of immigration law with the goal of continuing her advocacy for immigrant communities both in practice and policy. Maria can be reached at mefrisch@my.loyno.edu.

 



2020 Maria Thomson

Maria Thomson

Maria Thomson

As the 2020 Michael Maggio Fellow, Maria Thomson had the opportunity to work with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. Las Americas is a nonprofit based in El Paso, TX, that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees in West Texas and New Mexico. Maria worked with Las Americas’ Remain in Mexico Defense team, which advocates for asylum seekers impacted by the Trump Administration’s egregious “Migrant Protection Protocol” policy. MPP has forced over 60,000 vulnerable immigrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are pending, strictly limiting access to critical legal representation, exacerbating health and safety risks, and violating international human rights standards.

Over the summer, Maria advocated for asylum seekers in Ciudad Juarez under MPP. Due to Covid-19, she had to adapt her original plans to an entirely virtual format by providing phone and video-based support to clients in Mexico. Maria provided legal consultations, full asylum representation, and connections to on-the-ground humanitarian aid for migrants struggling with food and housing insecurity. Additionally, she supported Las Americas’ innovative efforts to remove individuals from MPP who are highly vulnerable to persecution or medical issues in
Mexico, including LGBTQ asylum seekers, survivors of kidnapping and trafficking, and migrants with severe physical or cognitive disabilities. In this capacity, Maria worked with three individuals and families to prepare evidence and declarations for a non-refoulement interview to request removal from MPP. Maria’s work with Las Americas enabled the Remain in Mexico team to increase their capacity for legal representation this summer, and deeply informed her understanding of novel developments in the United States’ anti-immigrant detention and deportation regime.

Maria is currently in her third year of Temple University’s dual JD/MSW program. At Temple, she has represented immigrants in claims ranging from wage-theft cases to federal FTCA claims for separated families. She is a community organizer and is interested in building power with immigrant communities through legal advocacy and organizing after graduating. Maria can be reached at maria.thomson@temple.edu.

 



2019 Betsaida Chavez Garcia

Betsaida Chavez Garcia

Betsaida Chavez Garcia worked with Immigrant Justice Idaho (IJI) during the summer of 2019. IJI was formed to fill a gap in Idaho’s immigration legal services available to low-income Idahoans: free or low-cost deportation defense. In October of 2018, IJI became the only Idaho entity to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a Free Legal Service Provider and a Referral Service. IJI also provides education on immigration law and policy to vulnerable communities and allies to build momentum towards reaching its goal of universal representation in Idaho’s immigration court.

As the 2019 Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Summer Fellow, Betsaida assisted IJI with consultation days, which happened twice a month where IJI provided a presentation on either the basics of legalization or immigration court proceedings, and then would privately take consultations. During these days, Betsaida was involved in the intake process. She also assisted with an asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture case, where she worked closely with the supervising attorney to gather all evidence, affidavits, and helped write the brief and motions for the case. She also gained immigration court experience by assisting with a cancellation of removal case. Aside from her office work, she did outreach to towns 3-5 hours away in order to hold conversations with service providers and community leaders on how to bring consultation days to those regions due to the high immigrant community and low access to resources. She assisted the supervising attorney in providing community presentations in those towns on “Know Your Rights” and also “Basics of Legalization.”

Betsaida is currently in her last year of law school, and she is continuing to do work at Immigrant Justice Idaho through a semester in practice. After graduation, Betsaida will continue advocating for the rights of immigrants through employment and immigration law. Betsaida may be reached at chav4905@vandals.uidaho.edu

 



2018 Yunuen Trujillo-Jimenez

Yunuen Trujillo-Jimenez

Yunuen Trujillo-Jimenez

Yunuen Trujillo-Jimenez worked with L.A. Voice during the summer of 2018. L.A. Voice is faith-based, multi-faith, multi-racial community organization made up of 57 diverse churches, synagogues, and mosques; and it is a member of the larger PICO California network and the national Faith in Action network. As the 2018 Michael Maggio Immigrants’ Rights Summer Fellow, Yunuen worked with L.A. Voice’s core leadership and staff to improve their deportation prevention and defense strategies, as well as their Rapid Response and Sanctuary strategies. Among other things, she partnered with Bet Tzedek Legal Services to create an FAQ regarding care of minor children in case of deportation, improved L.A. Voice’s “Know Your Rights” materials, and trained new and existing regional leaders. Yunuen met with individuals impacted by the immigration system, undocumented attorneys, and others formerly in sanctuary, who shared their expertise and shaped her work. She also met with political representatives, the L.A.P.D. Chief of Police, and several California Deputy Attorney Generals to discuss SB54 Sanctuary implementation efforts and other immigration campaigns. She also helped map out legal service providers, advocates, immigrant coalitions, and immigration resources in Los Angeles, and connected people in need with legal aid. Finally, she participated in the creation of pilot initiatives to serve undocumented persons who do not qualify for immigration relief.

Yunuen is currently in her last year of law school, focusing completely on the studies of Immigration Law, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity, and helping people through the Justice and Immigration Clinic at the University of La Verne College of Law. She is also writing a research paper regarding the New Sanctuary Movement. After graduation, she hopes to practice immigration law. She wants to be an attorney who knows not only the ins and outs of immigration law, but who can also connect affected immigrants with other resources – mental, spiritual, etc. – to get through something as difficult as the detention of a loved one. She is an advocate, a community organizer, and a soon-to-be attorney. Yunuen vows to continue advocating for immigrant rights. Yunuen may be reached at yunuen.trujillojimenez@laverne.edu.

 



2017 Rebecca Schueller

Rebecca Schueller

Rebecca Schueller

As the 2017 Maggio Fellow, Rebecca Schueller provided legal support for immigrants detained at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC). Working with the International Institute of Akron, she helped create a program to provide information for detained asylum seekers before their credible fear interviews took place. Her original goals for the summer refocused when the current administration came to an agreement with the Iraqi government to accept Iraqi immigrants who had been issued final orders of removal.

Over 100 Chaldean Christian Iraqi immigrants from the Detroit area of Michigan who had been issued final orders of removal as long ago as the 1980s were detained in the NEOCC. She worked with Professor Elizabeth Knowles of the University of Akron to assist the Iraqi detainees and others who were not eligible for asylum. She assisted with intakes in the facility and connected these immigrants with established legal assistance. She reached out to private firms and other interested parties and helped to coordinate trainings for those attorneys who could assist in bond hearings and motions to reopen. Lastly, she coordinated with CODE Legal Aid, a group that continues to work in partnership with the ACLU to prevent the deportation of the Chaldean Christian Iraqis. The ACLU successfully filed for an injunction preventing these immigrants’ removal that summer and recently obtained a federal ruling ordering that this group has a right to individual bond hearings. Rebecca can be reached at rebecca.schueller@gmail.com.

 



2016 Leslie C. Polanco-Linares

Leslie C. Polanco-Linares

Leslie C. Polanco-Linares

As the 2016 Maggio Fellow, Leslie Polanco-Linares was fortunate to join the immigration team at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (“PLS”) in Albany, NY. There, she learned that PLS was not solely about immigration and that in fact, this institution has been fighting for the civil rights of incarcerated prisoners for years. That summer, the Immigration Project at PLS accepted cases solely by assignment from the Immigration Courts in New York State and she was able to aid the immigration attorneys representing undocumented incarcerated people that would otherwise have to represent themselves for their immigration proceedings. Throughout her fellowship, she had the amazing opportunity to visit the detention centers of New York in Batavia, Ulster, Gowanda, and Riverview.

During their detention visits, she was able to learn and observe about the dynamics of incarcerated client interviews and had the opportunity to speak before an immigration judge on behalf of one of PLS’s clients under attorney supervision. Additionally, she worked on and successfully filed an I-589, an application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal Under the Convention Against Torture. Many of PLS’s clients fled from their countries due to persecution, threats, and often, the murder of their close relatives by certain groups and/or the government. Moreover, she had the opportunity to file multiple I-485s for Adjustment of Status and EOIR 42B for Cancellation of Removal. Finally, she was also able to attend the AILA Conference in Las Vegas. This conference reinforced everything she had been working on throughout her internship at PLS and taught her many new areas of immigration she had no idea existed. She learned about business immigration, U Visas, habeas corpus petitions in federal court, bonds, and more.

Now, as a law school graduate from Rutgers Law School-Newark, Leslie will serve as a Law Clerk for the Hon. Marysol Rosero, Criminal Judge of The Superior Court of New Jersey for the 2018-2019 term. She can be reached at leslie.polanco@rutgers.edu.

 



2015 Isis Misdary

As the 2015 Maggio Fellow, Isis Misdary worked on the Community Education Outreach Project, focusing on Know Your Rights for home raids and New York detainer laws, with the Bronx Defenders (BxD). She focused on mapping information and collecting testimonials related to home raids and BxD clients, especially as related to the LGBTQ community. She worked with the local community to advertise the assistance provided by BxD and promoted the organization as a safe space to discuss legal issues. She particularly focused on homeless youth who were undocumented and LGBTQ, who would otherwise fly under the radar and live off the grid, in fear of detection.

 



2014 Daniella Alvarado

As the 2014 Maggio Fellow, Daniella Alvarado’s project focused on three types of legal services: representation to victims of workplace abuse, deportation defense to those whose civil rights have been violated by law enforcement, and the securing of immigration protections for workers who are victims of employer and/or government misconduct.

 



2013 Alex Cardenas

Alex Cardenas

Alex Cardenas

As the 2013 Maggio Fellow, Alex spent his summer under the supervision of attorneys from AILA and Catholic Legal Services of Miami working on a project related to immigrant detainees at Miami’s Krome Service Processing Center. The project focused on assessing the legal claims of immigrant detainees who had been identified as needing additional safeguards in removal proceedings because of their mental (in)competency. In the immigration context, “mental incompetency” means that the immigrant detainee does not have the capacity to understand that they are in immigration proceedings, that the Immigration Judge is an arbiter with the ability to remove him or her from the country, and that the government’s attorney serves an adversarial role. Under BIA rulings, when an immigrant detainee is deemed mentally incompetent, the Immigration Judge is required to implement discretionary “safeguards.” The purpose of Alex’s summer project was to better understand what these “safeguards” entail, so as to best defend the rights of the target population.

Following his law school graduation in 2015, Alex spent two years as a Trial Attorney with the Honors Program in the Office of the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is currently completing a judicial clerkship in the Eastern District of New York.

 



2012 Sarah McDonagh

As a 2012 Maggio Fellow, Sarah McDonagh’s fellowship was in furtherance of her clerkship with ASISTA, an organization whose goal is to centralize assistance for advocates and attorneys facing complex legal problems in advocating for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

 



2011 Jessica R. Martin

As a 2011 Michael Maggio Fellow, Jessica’s goals at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) were to provide immigration legal services to underserved populations, to provide critical support to NMILC in its mission to meet the immigration legal needs of low-income New Mexicans, to broaden her knowledge of immigration law and practice, and to assess the legal needs of immigrant juveniles in the region and the services currently available to them. These goals were consistent with her motivation for attending law school – increase access to justice for underserved populations – and with her career goal of becoming an attorney for immigrant children and youth.

 



2010 Aidan Castillo

Aidan Castillo

Aidan Castillo

As a 2010 Michael Maggio Fellow, Aidan Castillo’s project focused on providing outreach, education, and advice and counsel to rural migrant communities in the San Joaquin and Central Valley. In the wake of what they anticipated would be the enactment of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and/or the DREAM Act, her project sought to help immigrant communities prepare for legalization, and to combat immigration provider fraud. She was fortunate to work with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, whose history and expertise working with rural migrant and farm working communities allowed her to effectively reach out to hundreds of immigrant community members in some of the most remote areas of Northern California. She conducted presentations about common forms of immigration relief, Know Your Rights education, including the now defunct Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, and warnings about common immigration fraud schemes.

Today, Aidan is an immigration supervising attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza, where she primarily represents families seeking asylum and other forms of relief from removal before the Immigration Courts and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. She can be reached at acastillo@centrolegal.org.