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A Day In The Life

Giving a Voice to Children in Need in the Immigration Law Unit

Meet Elizabeth (Liz) Rieser-Murphy, who leads our recently launched in-house federal immigrant youth litigation team. She also represents unaccompanied children, like her clients Juan and his sister, who fled their home country in the Northern Triangle after years of horrific abuse at the hands of their parents.

Our work in the federal practice has really made a difference in the lives of these children.

Their mother suffered from mental health problems and their father was a violent alcoholic. He beat his children with belts, leaving Juan with scars that he bears today. At one point, he tried to kill Juan and Juan’s mother. No one in their home country could protect the siblings so they fled together to the United States.

The Legal Aid Society has represented Juan and his sister since 2015, and Liz inherited the case from another attorney in 2016. Both children were eligible for a special form of humanitarian protection called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Finally, a Family Court determined that Juan’s father abused him and that he couldn’t return to his home country.

This is an opportunity to work with some of the most vulnerable kids in our community and defend their rights.

Despite many challenges, both Juan and his sister graduated high school in four years. His sister is in college and Juan has begun to work. After waiting nearly 4 years, Juan finally became a permanent residence last month, although the news was bittersweet because his sister is still waiting to hear about her application. Liz said it was an honor to work with these two siblings, and that their resiliency in the face of adversity is inspiring.

A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.

Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.

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