Students volunteer on immigrant worker project in Mississippi

December 06, 2012

Students Diego Rondon Ichikawa and Leticia Hernandez spent four days in Mississippi this fall, volunteering with the National Employment Law Project to interview low-wage immigrant workers who are victims of abuse and exploitation by their employers.

Leticia HernandezThe workers will most likely qualify for U visas, which are special visas for victims of crime. Student volunteers from six different law schools met with over 100 clients and spent more than a cumulative 350 hours conducting intake and collecting documentation of clients and their families.

Ichikawa, a 3L, and Hernandez, a 1L, found the experience rewarding.

"Many of these clients suffered for years," they wrote. "Their voices went unheard, complaints of these abuses unpunished, and they continued to live in fear.. Most of these clients relied upon their job to provide for their families, put food on their tables, pay their bills and live very simple lives. So they stayed, tolerated abuses, lived in constant fear, and prayed for justice."

The coordinators were grateful for their work.

Diego Rondon"We were so impressed by Diego and Leticia's dedication, sensitivity, and skill in their work," said Eunice Hyunhye Cho, the Skadden Fellow with the NELP Immigrant Worker Justice Project. "We know that they will be fantastic advocates in the future. We're very grateful for their contribution, and this project could not have happened without their help."

Their trip was funded by generous donations from King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu and Patricia Sully '11, assistant director of the Access to Justice Institute.