UF Law Students Selected For Fellowships, Will Provide Assistance to Immigrants
Two UF Law students – Jasmine Brito and Joseph Cordova – will each embark on a two-year fellowship following graduation this May to practice immigration law.
Brito was one of 25 law students chosen from a nationwide search to become an Immigrant Justice Corps 2018 Justice Fellow. She will work to represent immigrants fighting deportation and seeking lawful status and citizenship, according to a release.
Cordova will also spend the next two years working with immigrants. He has been named a Florida Bar Foundation 2018-2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by the Florida Bar Foundation.
“This fellowship gives me the opportunity to advocate for families much like my own,” Brito said. “My parents emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and worked as farmworkers. I grew up in Immokalee, Florida, in a mixed (immigration) status home and know the struggles that immigrant families face. My parents’ sacrifices and my community fueled my passion for immigration law. Being an advocate is especially critical now when families are being torn apart, communities are being raided, and immigrants’ rights are being undermined. I look forward to combating these injustices as an IJC fellow where I will be representing immigrants in detention.”
During her time at UF Law, Brito interned with the Florida Rural Legal Services’ Migrant Farmworker Unit in Fort Myers and the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery. She is also a past president of the Immigration Law Association on campus, and former treasurer of the Association for Public Interest Law and Latino Law Student Association.
“When I entered law school I knew I wanted to practice immigration law, however, I had not yet decided on public interest law,” Brito said. “I was a participant in UF Law Alternative Spring Break program my 1L year and one of the trips was to Immokalee, the town where I grew up. It was especially impactful to be there with my peers and to be able to come back as a law student and do something positive for my community. This semester, I am happy to be back in Immokalee for a Semester in Practice with LegalAid Service of Collier County’s Immigration Unit.”
During her 2L year, Brito traveled to Dilley, Texas, with ASB to work alongside the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. During the week, Brito aided women seeking asylum prepare for interviews with authorities. “It was the most impactful experience during my law school career and was what led to my interest in representing immigrants in detention, an underserved immigrant population that are especially vulnerable.”
During her fellowship, she will work with Catholic Legal Services of Miami to provide services to detained immigrants at the Broward Transitional Center, located in Pompano Beach. Her work will mainly include representing domestic violence survivors, unaccompanied minors and asylum-seekers.Cordova, as an employee of Florida Legal Services, will work with and assist immigrant and migrant worker families living in southern Putnam and northeast Volusia counties. The two-year project will allow Cordova to provide civil legal aid to his clients, using education, outreach, policy advocacy and community lawyering to increase community power, socioeconomic opportunities and legal services, according to a release.
During his time in law school, Cordova found ways to become involved despite living 55 miles away from campus with his family. He logged 100 hours with both the Pro Bono and Community Service Projects offered by UF Law. This semester he is externing at the Palatka Public Defender’s Office.
He also found guidance from faculty. “Professor Joan Flocks, who teaches Social Justice Lawyering, was critical in helping me to find a lawyer’s path to social justice. Professor Evan George, who teaches Immigration law, made the subject a personal ‘must’ for my legal future. Professor Mark Fenster served as my mentor throughout all of law school,” Cordova said. He also credits Associate Director of Career Development Erin Carr for encouraging him to pursue this fellowship opportunity.
“Immigration law is particularly important for this migrant, rural population more now than ever as political discussions surrounding DACA and deportations have intensified the fear of so many families,” Cordova said. “For me, this fellowship will allow the opportunity to dive head first into a community in need to help build confidence and legal foundations.”