NEXT GENERATION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE LAWYERS LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

We incorporate leadership development throughout our organization. Beginning in the fall of 2016, we partnered with Equal Justice Works, the University of New Mexico School of Law, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to launch a program that would create a pipeline for people of color and members of immigrant communities to enter the profession while addressing the gap in legal services for New Mexico's low-income immigrants.

Watch this video to learn more about our leadership program

WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE LEADERSHIP PROGRAM?

Increase Legal Assistance

Deploy attorneys and paralegals to provide critically needed civil legal aid to immigrant communities throughout New Mexico. Among detained immigrants, those with a lawyer were twice as likely as those without to obtain immigration relief. Those who had never been detained who were represented are nearly five times more likely than their unrepresented counterparts to obtain relief.

Support Public Interest Careers

Partnering with the public interest programs underway at the University of New Mexico School of Law to create a pipeline for students interested in working with immigrant populations. Additionally, Equal Justice Works will share best practices, promote public interest curricula, present internship and postgraduate employment options, and counsel students on debt relief.

Provide Mentorship and Increase Diversity in the Legal Profession

Increase the representation of historically marginalized groups in the legal profession as well as in the practice of public interest law. We believe that increasing legal representation from communities comprised of those most directly impacted makes for stronger and more competent legal representation. Our program aims to mentor high school, undergraduate, graduate, and professional students interested in the legal field.

Coordinate with Pro Bono Attorneys

Coordinate with private attorneys interested in supporting low-income immigrants who otherwise would not have access to legal services in New Mexico. NMILC looks for private attorneys to get involved by providing pro bono direct representation, collaborating on Continuing Legal Education presentations and other trainings, providing community presentations, and advocating on issues that impact the legal rights of immigrants.

WHY NEW MEXICO?

There are more than 200,000 immigrants living in New Mexico, making up approximately 10 percent of the state's population. According to national Census data, these individuals are less likely to have graduated from high school, more likely to be employed in low-wage service occupations, and more likely to be living in poverty than native-born individuals.

Unfortunately, language barriers and unfamiliarity with the U.S. legal system can complicate successful assimilation. As a result, many immigrants do not take advantage of available public support systems and are exposed to a myriad of legal problems such as the threat of unjustified deportation, unfair work practices, and other predatory practices. To compound these problems, there is a lack of access to legal counsel for low-income immigrants.

MEET OUR FELLOWS

Adriel Orozco

Associate Director

Adriel D. Orozco is our Associate Director and former Equal Justice Works Attorney Fellow from 2016-2018. He grew up in Albuquerque and attended Brandeis University where he studied Political Science and Economics. After graduating, Adriel worked as a paralegal at a small law firm in Boston, MA, focusing on immigration, personal injury and criminal law. He attended the University of New Mexico School of Law and became an attorney in September 2016. Adriel’s Equal Justice Works project is aimed at increasing legal services for immigrants across New Mexico. Adriel is particularly interested in the intersection of immigration and employment/labor laws and in finding ways to build sustainable economies that produce just and fair workplaces for everyone, including immigrants.

Eduardo Garcia

Equal Justice Works Attorney Fellow

With a background in community organizing and education, Eduardo became an attorney in order to have a direct impact on the systems that affect his community. For 15 years, he has dedicated himself to fighting for both immigrant rights and worker rights. As an Equal Justice Works Attorney Fellow at NMILC, he hopes to continue this fight by integrating employment law and immigration law, through bond cases, wage theft cases, and more. Eduardo also participates in a local rapid response team, which finds community solutions to aggressive ICE actions.

Diana Torres

Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow

Growing up in a predominantly immigrant community here in Albuquerque, Diana knew that as an attorney she would want to dedicate herself to immigration law. She graduated from UNM School of Law in 2018 after working for non-profits on the East Coast in a variety of fields. She is now an Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow here at NMILC, where she specializes in cases involving human trafficking of immigrants. The survivors of trafficking often live with extreme trauma, and Diana is motivated to learn and help as much as possible during her two-year fellowship.

Hali Calzadillas Andujo

Equal Justice Works Paralegal Fellow

Hali Calzadillas is an Equal Justice Works Paralegal Fellow for 2017-2019 and is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, but has lived in Santa Fe since she was nine. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in University Studies with concentrations in social work, Spanish and social sciences from New Mexico Highlands University. Hali is passionate about working with and empowering undocumented students, as well as working with the immigrant community. Hali plans to attend law school after her fellowship ends and continue working with the immigrant population of New Mexico.

Deshawnda Chaparro

Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow 2018-2020

Deshawnda Chaparro grew up in Greeley, Colorado and attended Aims Community College until moving to Lehigh Acres, Florida to study political science and Latin American studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. After graduating, Deshawnda worked as a paralegal at a firm in Naples, FL that focused on foreclosure law. She attended the University of New Mexico School of Law and became an attorney in April 2018. Deshawnda’s fellowship is aimed at increasing access to legal resources for victims of human trafficking, including prescreening for immigration relief, direct representation, and education.

Vanessa Gonzalez

Equal Justice Works Paralegal Fellow|DOJ Accredited Representative 2017-2019

Vanessa Gonzalez grew up in Taos, NM and attended Pitzer College where she earned a degree in Sociology with a concentration in Chicanx/Latinx Studies. Vanessa was involved with many legal non-profits in the Los Angeles area, including Pomona Economic Center, Bet Tzedek Legal Sevices, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Central American Resource Center, and several others. Vanessa will continue to serve the immigrant community by expanding services to rural communities in New Mexico and working within immigration detention centers.

John Jabez Ledres

Equal Justice Works Paralegal Fellow

Originally from Cebu City, Philippines, Jabez recently graduated from UNM and decided to pursue law as a way to advocate for his community. Now, as an Equal Justice Works Paralegal Fellow, Jabez works with various partnerships to expand the reach of NMILC's citizenship and naturalization services. Through collaborations with Cities for Citizenship and the New Mexico Asian Family Center, he hopes to find more people who are eligible for naturalization and to assist them in every step of that process – from paperwork, to hearings, to finally voting and taking full advantage of all the rights of citizenship

Rebekah Wolf

Equal Justice Works Attorney Fellow 2017-2019

Rebekah Wolf was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM and has a JD from University of California-Hastings with a concentration in International and Comparative Law and a BA in History from New York University. Before becoming a lawyer, Rebekah was the co-founder and co-director of a human rights organization in the Middle East, spending ten years advocating for the collective rights of peoples under international law. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a grassroots membership-based immigrant and migrant rights organization based in New York City, and a co-convener of the New Mexico chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. She has provided Know Your Rights trainings, Legal Observer trainings, and advocacy trainings for over 15 years.