Today, on International Women’s Day, Immigrant Justice Corps honors immigrant women and girls. As lawyers and advocates, it is a privilege to stand with them to ensure their immigration status is not a barrier to safety, justice and opportunity.
For second year Justice Fellow Nicole Alanko, International Women’s Day is an annual opportunity to reflect on the strength of the women she meets everyday at her host organization, Safe Horizon. “Every survivor who has walked into my office has overcome intersecting obstacles just to be there: escaping violence, language barriers, threats of deportation, and systemic racism,” she said.
“My job is not to be a voice for the voiceless, because my clients are anything but voiceless. Instead, it is my honor and privilege to amplify their voices so that, even in a climate that tries to silence them, they can be heard and seek the protection and justice that they deserve.”
One of Nicole’s newest clients is also her youngest. H, as we will refer to her, came to the United States with her mother, M, from Honduras just before the worst of the federal government’s family separation policy went into effect. Nicole is representing both of them in their asylum case.
In Nicole’s words, “Watching H draw as we waited and show off her art to her mother stood in stark contrast to the dreary atmosphere of the immigration court. Her excitement over her stuffed dog contrasted sharply with her mother’s anxiety over the court hearing. Even the judge changed demeanor when we approached for our hearing. In that moment, H brought a ray of hope to the morning, and a reminder of the people affected by statutes, regulations, and executive actions.”
“Women like M and children like H are why I’m an attorney, and why I chose Immigrant Justice Corps to start my career,” said Nicole.
M made the difficult decision to leave her home country with her daughter to pursue a life free of fear. This choice takes bravery and resilience. With so many challenges in the immigration system, IJC is honored to represent women and girls at such a critical time in their lives.