Katherine Mastrucci took her first pro bono case with AI Justice as a first-year associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. in 2014, at the encouragement of her office’s pro bono coordinator, representing a young boy from Haiti looking for safety and better opportunities in the United States. Over the course of the following 2 years, Katherine assisted the child in getting his documentation, allowing him to live with his aunt in Miami. Though the case was closed in 2016, Katherine was glad to receive a call from her client in 2022, with an update that he is happy to now be applying for his first job in the U.S.!
“Starting with my first pro bono case, I got the sense that we are not all on an even playing field in this arena,” Katherine said of the need for pro bono attorneys for immigration cases. “The system is set up for immigrants to fail. It’s incredibly important to have attorneys helping them through this process.”
There is no right to free legal representation in immigration proceedings, forcing countless adults and children without the means to hire an attorney to navigate our incredibly complex immigration system alone if they cannot find a pro bono attorney. Moreover, immigrants with representation are five times more likely to obtain relief than those who are unrepresented. That’s where pro bono attorneys like Katherine come in.
Katherine, seeing the positive impact a pro bono attorney can have on an immigrant child’s case, took on a new set of pro bono cases with AI Justice in 2017, representing 3 brothers from Honduras. She received great news in 2022 that the 2 eldest brothers have been approved for their green cards. She remains hopeful that she will receive a positive decision for the youngest brother soon.
“Everyone has a basic human right to live, prosper, and seek better opportunities for themselves, including in other countries,” Katherine said of her guiding values when taking pro bono immigration cases.
Katherine thanks AI Justice’s Pro Bono Program director Angela Bouliakis Andronis for supporting her throughout the process of representing her clients. “As an attorney I want to make sure that I’m performing my duties competently. But immigration law can be murky, and it doesn’t always feel like the rules are clear or consistently followed. Having Angela to guide me through the process reassures me that I’m doing everything I can for my clients.”
AI Justice is grateful for Katherine’s zealous commitment to defending the rights of immigrants!
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