Justice for Natalia*
When COVID-19 began, Natalia* was waiting to receive work authorization after submitting her application with the help of a Her Justice pro bono attorney, a process that can take up to 5 years. As a survivor of human trafficking, she was legally eligible for status, but how would she care for her children while she waited in limbo?
Undocumented survivors awaiting work authorization are more vulnerable to workplace exploitation, harassment and instability, as they are forced to make unprotected work arrangements serving as caregivers or health aides, for example. COVID-19 significantly impacted the opportunities for clients to support themselves and their families while they wait. Natalia was no exception. Without access to federal stimulus aid, the economic downturn has had a devastating impact on her life.
But she and her volunteer attorney persevered, and her work permit was finally granted this fall. Natalia has now secured a job and is able to support herself and her children without fear of deportation and separation. And with that basic need met, she can perhaps begin to heal from the trauma she survived.
Work authorization was a critical first step on her path toward financial independence and safety. Natalia’s pro bono attorney will remain by her side as she navigates the road ahead.
*Name and photo changed to protect client privacy