Trafficking Survivors Resiliency Project
The Trafficking Survivors Resiliency Project aims to increase protection for trafficking survivors through legal status and benefits, educate survivors about their legal rights, prevent conditions that allow trafficking, and remove barriers to access to justice for immigrants.
With support from the Leonard & Robert Weintraub Family Foundation, The Venable Foundation, and The New York Bar Foundation, the project provides trafficking survivors with a clear pathway to access the transformative legal services that ensure safety, financial stability and freedom for women and their families.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City’s undocumented survivors of domestic violence and sex and labor trafficking faced a crisis within a crisis. The confluence of poverty, immigration status, race, and limited language access, combined with increasing instability and violence against women brought by COVID-19, has led to especially acute conditions for women living in poverty and a desperate need for culturally competent legal services.
For women and girls who have been sex trafficked, racially motivated arrests for “prostitution” have led to criminal records that impede stable employment and healing, as survivors must bear the constant stigma of a criminal record and relive their trauma every time they seek new employment. Those who are still being abused and trafficked are now much less likely to leave their traffickers or abusers, especially if they lack access to legal and social services. All the while, ICE deportations continue unabated. Survivors of domestic violence and sex and labor trafficking are in critical need of humanitarian immigration relief.
Through the two-year pilot project, Her Justice will expand our capacity to provide essential and life-affirming legal services to undocumented survivors of domestic violence and sex and labor trafficking in New York City, beginning with a focus on meeting the needs of undocumented Mandarin-speaking survivors, women who are particularly vulnerable and underserved in this time. By focusing part of the pilot project on a specific population to start, we can more intentionally expand our services through a culturally responsive and anti-racist approach, thereby creating an institutional framework to better serve all clients, centering inclusion, equity and access across all programmatic work.
Her Justice will:
- Provide civil legal services to trafficking survivors seeking protection and economic stability through legal status, with a focus on supporting Mandarin-speaking survivors and their families.
- Provide representation to remove trafficking survivors’ abuse-related convictions, thus helping free clients from the stigma, trauma, and collateral consequences of a criminal record.
- A Her Justice Fellow will be the only attorney in New York City focused on providing this kind of relief specifically to Mandarin-speaking trafficking survivors.
- Offer know-your-rights information sessions and trainings for community-based organizations and partners on topics including domestic violence, trafficking, and immigration legal rights, cutting through layers of misinformation that often prevent survivors from accessing justice.
- Develop a new T visa pro bono placement program (the primary immigration legal remedy available to trafficking survivors), building a pipeline connecting pro bono partners to meaningful opportunities to help trafficking survivors move forward with their lives
- Translate client-focused materials and outreach into Mandarin.
- Advocate for local and federal policies to help all immigrant survivors access their legal rights.
At Her Justice, we work to remove barriers built into our justice system, barriers that reinforce and exacerbate economic, gender and racial imbalances. We believe a justice system that works for the most vulnerable among us will, by definition, support our entire community and create a more equitable society for all.
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