Access to Justice: A New LALSA Initiative
In order to address the lack of access to information that Latino immigrants have of their rights, the Fordham Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) has developed a new initiative. Access to Justice is a community outreach education program, in which law students create and provide presentations in Spanish on issues significant to the Latino community. This semester, we hope to hold presentations on immigration, landlord/tenant issues, and voting rights in Latino communities. Students will work with and be mentored by attorneys in order to conduct these presentations in churches and community centers throughout East Harlem. It is our hope that we will facilitate access to justice for many of the under-served and underrepresented Latinos of our community. We also want to encourage pro bono work among attorneys and firms.
During my two years living in New York City, I have seen how hard it can be for Latino immigrants. Last October, I met a 21-year-old Spanish-speaking man at the 42nd Street Times Square subway station. He told me he lost his arms four years ago as a result of chemical exposure while working and was panhandling to save money to buy prosthetic limbs. I asked him if he had looked into medical insurance or reached out to any non-profit organizations. He told me he had done everything he could, but didn’t understand what options were available to him or where he could seek help. Over the summer, I met tenants in Queens that lived without heat in rat-infested residences because their landlord threatened to inform law enforcement of the tenants’ immigration status. These people sacrificed a great deal to come to the United States and it is regrettable that they were unable to access basic services.
We recognize that Latinos are under-served and recent immigrants often lack the information and support networks to exercise their rights as citizens and residents. As Fordham law students, there are important things we can do to help. Access to Justice allows students to make a positive difference in their community. We need your help to make this effort possible. We plan to select a group of 8 students to be Access to Justice Educators during the spring. We encourage all students, including LLMs, to apply. The application deadline is February 28, 2013. Candidates will be interviewed in early March. Please feel free to send any questions to Alexandra Espinosa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Alexandra Espinosa, Program Coordinator of Access to Justice & Community Affairs Chair of LALSA