OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

My journey from gangs to legal aid

From concerned to joyful faces

Lessons from a DACA recipient on the power of legal services

For the past 6 months, we have been so honored to serve as the host site for two amazing DreamSF Fellows, Jesus Castro and Talissa Carrasco.  Jesus and Talissa have become an integral part of OneJustice’s Rural Justice Initiative, conducting vital outreach to isolated communities and an essential part of our mobile pro bono clinics.  When the President recently announced the expansion of the “deferred action” immigration relief, we asked Jesus for his personal perspective on what DACA has meant for him and how it intersects with his DreamSF Fellowship at OneJustice.

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My journey from gangs to working in civil legal aid

Guest Blog post by Jesus Castro, a DreamSF Fellow at OneJustice

My name is Jesus Castro. I am 19 years old, a DACA recipient and a current participant in the DreamSF Fellows program.

IMG_0102I came here from Mexico when I was five years old. My parents gave up their childhoods, left their families, and a chance at an education, so that my 3 brothers and I could have a better life. This better life includes me being an immigration attorney – that’s my end goal, that’s where I want to be.

I wasn’t always on the path of becoming an immigration attorney. Middle school and high school were tough for me due to my relationships with gangs. I was fortunate enough to realize that this gang life wouldn’t benefit me and that it would only get me incarcerated or worse – get me killed – especially since I was involved in a gang fight. And these guys who supported me, who said they were my family, left me standing alone.

Shortly after leaving the gang life, I began looking for ways to better myself.

I began my journey by joining the Coro Exploring Leadership Program. Coro gave me the initial professional skills that I needed to begin this new journey. As my time at Coro came to an end, I received the amazing opportunity to work for the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs or OCEIA for short. OCEIA is where the DreamSF Fellowship program was initiated and where I got the chance to be a part of the amazing cohort that we have today. The DreamSF Fellowship gave me – an immigrant and DACA recipient – the chance to intern at OneJustice in order to get my feet wet and truly find out what type of work I will be doing as an attorney some day.

Why I choose OneJustice as a host site. 

My time at OneJustice has really made it clear that I want to be an attorney, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for when I chose OneJustice as my host site. OneJustice also taught me that there’s much more legal assistance needed in the rural areas of California.

Jesus on the Justice Bus

Jesus on the Justice Bus!

OneJustice has also made me realize that working directly with a client plays a huge part in the work that I want to do. Being a part of the Justice Bus trips has given me a chance to hear others stories and help them – which is really rewarding.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a consumer debt clinic and all I can say is – wow.  I was truly amazed by the type of problems our clients had. Not only that, but I was also very aware of all their concerned faces. I can say with confidence that the clients that we assisted left with their minds at ease. My proof you ask?  That would be how grateful our clients were for the assistance we had given them. I can also say that their concerned faces had turned into joyful faces.  It’s very rewarding to know that I have helped someone in order to make their lives a little easier.  Just as they are thankful for that assistance, I am very thankful for the DreamSF Fellows program and also OneJustice – because without them, I wouldn’t be able to make a difference in people’s lives.

Thank you for supporting OneJustice, so they can support others like me. 

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