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For over 30 years the South Texas Civil Rights Project (STCRP) has been effective in creating access to social and economic change by implementing the philosophy that community education and organizing go hand-in-hand with court action to solidify legal and systemic changes. STCRP serves the community's large number of immigrant and low-income population. Our area in deep South Texas is on the U.S./Mexico border, with an approximate population of 1.1 million with historically high poverty levels, and is home to 5 of the poorest counties in the nation.
We have been extremely successful in creating a holistic approach by providing free legal assistance and collaborating with area organizations. We have represented low-income persons in cases against state, local, and federal police agencies, agricultural operators, unscrupulous employers who prey on vulnerable populations, and those discriminating against persons with disabilities.
Assisting immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a high priority in our office. Many undocumented immigrant women in the area suffer from physical, sexual, psychological, and/or economic abuse by their Legal Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen spouses, who use the woman's undocumented status to further perpetuate the cycle of violence. Children are not spared from this abuse. These women have a remedy under our VAWA Self-Petition Project. The Self-Petition filed with Immigration allows women to obtain a social security card and work authorization, thus helping them move out of poverty, removing the threat of deportation, and empowering them to live in healthy and safe home environments.
Interns who volunteer gain experience working in a public interest setting and desire an opportunity to do more than just legal research. Internships offer unique situations through which one might better understand the special legal issues facing people who live in poverty and low-income communities. Will assess the needs of our VAWA clients and plug them in with various areas they can receive assistance with, and providing referrals, including obtaining a restraining order and navigating the court system, gathering documents from courthouses, police departments and sheriff departments, requesting assistance through the Crime Victim Compensation fund.
- Noemi Martinez
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