Legal Empowerment and Immigration

In the fall of 2017 the Global Justice Clinic (GJC) began contributing to efforts to promote justice and support empowerment in the Haitian immigrant community in New York.  In the fall of 2018,  the Global Justice Clinic expanded its legal empowerment work to include other immigrant populations, and launched one project based in New York City and a second that is nation-wide.

Participatory Empowerment Evaluation

The Global Justice Clinic, in collaboration with the Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, partnered with New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) of New York to engage in a participatory empowerment evaluation of NSC’s programs. New Sanctuary Coalition is an immigrant-led organization that supports families through the immigration process.  NSC empowers “Friends” (immigrants seeking services) by providing information about and support in demanding respect for their rights; coordinating a network of volunteers who accompany immigrants to court and to ICE check-ins; providing support to complete forms and navigate legal issues at a weekly pro-se clinic; and offering emotional and logistical support.  The Clinic students conduct participant observation—students regularly participate in the pro se clinic and the weekly community meeting, and conduct regular accompaniments—facilitate participatory action research methods such as interviews and town halls, and analyze the data the project collectively generates.  In 2020, GJC plans to release a public-facing report that describes NSC’s programs, analyzes the impact of their programs on Friends’ and volunteers’ sense of empowerment, agency, and knowledge.  In addition, GJC has consistently provided NSC with constructive feedback aimed to make NSC more responsive to its Friends.

Legal Empowerment Documentation Project

The Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, in collaboration with GJC and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), convenes the Legal Empowerment and Immigration Network, a group of U.S.-based immigrant rights organizations. The NYU team has engaged in a multi-year initiative to document the impacts of legal empowerment programs to advance the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants in the U.S. In partnership with directly impacted community members, grassroots activists, and lawyers, the team created a website that presents the strategies that support immigrants to know, use and shape the laws that affect them. The project also facilitates learning, networking and sharing best practices among the network by organizing convenings and online and offline learning opportunities.

Justice Power

Justice Power, the latest part of the Legal Empowerment and Immigration Project, is a new website that documents legal empowerment strategies used by organizations in the U.S. to increase access to justice and build power of asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees. The website houses information on these innovative methods, as well as organizational profiles, multi-media, and a growing resource library. Our hope is that Justice Power offers an inclusive space for learning and exploration, and highlights the power of community-centered strategies to advance the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants.


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