Kelly Hii, 2018 EJA Immigration Fellow at Ayuda
Thanks to the Equal Justice America program, I am able to start my dream career right out of law school; serving and empowering some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society- immigrant victims of crime, abuse, and persecution.
I first became interested in immigrants’ rights in college, when I volunteered to teach English and lead an after-school children’s reading program for immigrant families in my hometown. Through this program, I got to know many of the immigrant families in my community as they shared their stories with me. I was inspired by the resilience and strength of the parents, who had gone to such great lengths to provide safety and security for their children. I realized that these families still faced many barriers to successfully navigating the U.S. legal system and were unable to fully thrive here as a result. I decided to go to law school because I felt that the law could be a powerful tool to help vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed populations gain access to the justice they deserve.
At Georgetown, I have had the opportunity to engage in a variety of immigrants’ rights work through internships, practicums, pro bono projects, and clinics. I interned with attorneys representing unaccompanied minors in their Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and asylum proceedings. This past semester, I represented a detained individual in his withholding of removal proceeding, a form of protection from deportation for individuals facing persecution in their country of origin. Working with another student, I prepared the court filing and argued our client’s case before the immigration judge. And we won! He is now able to live his life in the United States without the fear of being forcibly sent back to face severe violence in his native country. Working with these clients taught me how important legal representation is for immigrant individuals. Without representation, I don’t think our client would have won his case because of the many barriers he would have faced in the complex process.
I love working in the field of immigration law because I feel that I can use my passion for immigrants’ rights and my education to make a real difference in the lives of people who have been through so much in life. Working directly with clients gives me the opportunity to show them that somebody cares and there is hope. I feel that through this position, I will be able to provide a path towards safety and security for immigrants, particularly those who have been victims of crime, abuse, or persecution, so that they can begin to build more stable lives for themselves and their families. I could not be more excited to work with Ayuda for the next two years as an Equal Justice America Fellow and I am extremely grateful to Equal Justice America for making this opportunity possible!
Ayuda in Washington, DC Welcomes Kelly Hii
“At a time where immigrants are increasingly isolated and vulnerable, support from EJA in funding a high-qualified and dedicated legal fellow to increase our capacity is most appreciated. Kelly’s work at Ayuda will change the trajectory of the lives of the hundreds of immigrants.”
–Paula Fitzgerald, Executive Director
“We are delighted to be able to sponsor Kelly Hii in her EJA fellowship. We are confident that Kelly’s wide-ranging experiences representing immigrants will enrich our immigration practice. We look forward to welcoming Kelly to our team and to the skills she will bring to advocate on behalf of the DMV immigrant population.”
–Susannah Volpe, Associate Director, DC Immigration
“Kelly’s passion for fighting for immigrants’ rights is clear to anyone who speaks with her. That passion, combined with her hard work and prior experience working with immigrants, provide a strong platform for Kelly to grow her skills as a forceful advocate for immigrants at Ayuda. We can’t wait to start working with Kelly to expand the services we’re able to offer low-income immigrants in the D.C. area.”
–Josh Doherty, Supervising Immigration Attorney, DC Immigration
“Thanks to Equal Justice America our clients will have a compassionate and dedicated attorney in Kelly to advocate and fight for them. We’re excited to have Kelly join us to expand our services for low-income individuals in the DC metro area.”
–Maya Zegarra, Staff Attorney, DC Immigration
“Having started out my legal career as a fellow, I am very excited to have Kelly join the Ayuda staff. The fellowship model is perfect for organizations like Ayuda because Kelly will immediately take on her own cases while learning from the experienced attorneys on the team. This allows Ayuda to serve clients who would not receive any services while giving Kelly the opportunity to grow as a new attorney and feel confident about the work she is doing.”
–Victoria Maqueda, Staff Attorney, DC Immigration