AI Justice Receives W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant to Assist Immigrant Families Impacted by Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking

Miami, FL – March 30, 2016 – Founded in 1996, Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) is an award-winning non-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In 20 years staff have provided services to over 90,000 immigrants from all over the world with compelling claims to justice. AI Justice pioneered work on behalf of immigrant survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault and domestic violence in 1997 with the creation of the Lucha (“The Struggle”) Program. Recognized nationally and internationally, Lucha is committed to addressing the needs of immigrant survivors in a holistic manner, recognizing that assistance must be comprehensive in order to have long-term impact.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, has awarded AI Justice a two-year, $400,000 grant to serve immigrant families affected by abuse and exploitation. The grant supports the critical needs of urban and rural populations in Florida, and enables AI Justice to increase advocacy on behalf of immigrant families affected by violence at the local, statewide and national levels.

“Our survivors have spoken with a consistent voice – they want to rebuild their lives with their children,” said Michelle Ortiz, Deputy Director of AI Justice and head of the Lucha Program. Without legal immigration assistance, victims of violence with a legitimate claim to U.S. residence are sometimes wrongfully detained and deported. “Their citizen children may end up in the foster-care system or, worse yet, in the custody of the abuser,” added Ortiz.

Through interaction with immigrant families in South Florida and targeted rural areas, AI Justice will identify service gaps, lack of awareness regarding immigrant rights, and policies/practices that negatively impact immigrant survivors of violence and their children. Lucha will educate local providers, law enforcement and the judiciary regarding U.S. laws that mandate meaningful access to services and provide for humanitarian immigration benefits. The result will be improved cultural competence and more effective community responses in South Florida and in underserved rural areas statewide.

The Lucha program’s unique approach in providing services will enable immigrant survivors of abuse and exploitation to achieve emotional and financial stability for their children. These families will finally be empowered to come out of the shadows and to live, work and study in the U.S. as they build a safe and prosperous future.