Mariana Meza interned with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Centre, a non-profit organization in El Paso, Texas that provides pro-bono and low-cost legal aid to migrants in the border area. The role initially focused on independent post-release work under the Detained Deportation Defense Team, assisting migrants in their transition to new homes in the U.S. Communication with released clients involved handling applications for work permits, court venue changes, drafting legal documents, and conducting research for clients seeking identification documents and community services. Transitioning to preparing detainees for Credible Fear Interviews, Mariana conducted consultations, managed the CFI Prep program, followed up on detainees’ results and medical conditions, drafted declarations, and translated evidence for asylum applications.
Mariana writes, “Conversation with clients offered a glimpse into the radical empathy and humanizing work possible within an unjust system. The detainees I spoke with imbued every interaction with the hope, gratitude, and resilience I hope to embody as I continue to cultivate my lived theories of leadership and community engagement.”