OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Tag Archives: immigration

DACA has helped me in ways I’ll never forget

DreamSF Fellow tells us about his time at OneJustice and his experience as a DACA recipient.

We’re excited to have Miguel, our DreamSF Fellow and Communications Intern, give us an inside view on his current work and his goals for the future before he leaves OneJustice. We have been so fortunate to have had Miguel on the OneJustice Team, and he will be sorely missed! So before he leaves, we wanted to pick his brain one last time!

Join us in bidding Miguel a heartfelt farewell!


Thank you so much, Miguel, for joining us for this quick Q&A! Tell us about your work at OneJustice, why did you choose OneJustice as your host site?

IMAGE: Miguel Castillo, DreamSF Fellow and Communications Intern at OneJustice.

Miguel Castillo, DreamSF Fellow and Communications Intern at OneJustice.

For my DreamSF Fellowship, I chose to work for OneJustice, because I believe in the work and the change OneJustice is so bold to take on. Since September of 2015, I have helped out the Pro Bono Justice Program (PBJ) and the Development and Communications team. For the PBJ program, I helped with outreach for upcoming Justice Bus Project and Rural Justice Collaborative clinics and clinic logistics like, signing up clients, making sure they have the right paperwork for the clinic, and translating legal documents into Spanish. During clinics, I would help greet and sit clients down with a pro bono volunteer as well as interpret in Spanish for clients.

In my role with the Development and Communications team, I used my graphic design skills to help with the creation of the upcoming new website and interactive clinic map, plus I designed flyers and a brochure for OneJustice. In addition, I would take professional pictures at clinics for communication purposes and would help with social media.

We’re so grateful to have had a Fellow like you — you’ve been a crucial part of our team over the past months! Can you explain to folks what the DreamSF Fellowship is? How has it helped you with your career goals?

The DreamSF Fellowship is a paid internship exclusively for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. Fellows get placed at a nonprofit organization in San Francisco serving the immigrant community. By training and preparing DACA recipients, the DreamSF Fellowship serves as a gateway to the professional workforce. It has provided me with professional work experience and skills that will help me with my career goals. It has also given me a wide network of people that I can reach out to and count on. The Fellowship has given me hope that I can succeed in a world that is not always welcoming. It is important that programs like the DreamSF Fellowship continue to serve and empower underprivileged communities and provide opportunities to youth.

It definitely sounds like Fellowships such as the DreamSF Fellowship are opening doors for individuals! Tell us how DACA has helped you on your journey towards achieving your goals.

I immigrated to the United States when I was three years old and grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. My family decided to come to the US due to economic hardship and lack of opportunity in their home country. Before DACA, I was limited and barred from most opportunities that people would not think twice about. For example, DACA allowed me to get an Identification Card, a Driver’s License, and allowed me to obtain a job — all things that most people my age have access to. If I could summarize DACA with one word, it would be opportunity. It has allowed me to travel, go to college, and feel somewhat normal in society. I now have more control over my life and where I would like to go and who I would like to become.

IMAGE: Miguel presenting a proposal for the creation of an Undocumented/AB540 Student Resource Center to the Board of Associated Students at San Francisco State University.

Miguel presenting a proposal for the creation of an Undocumented/AB540 Student Resource Center to the Board of Associated Students at San Francisco State University.

Although DACA is an amazing opportunity and achievement, it is not enough. Families are still getting torn apart and getting abused and taken advantage of in the workforce. Due to my immigration status, I have become a big activist in my community for Immigrant rights. As a result of my activism and advocacy for immigrants, I have been at the forefront of establishing an Undocumented/AB540 Student Resource Center at San Francisco State University. The Resource Center will provide resources to over 650 students at the University who identify as Undocumented or AB540. Currently, there is a resource gap that undocumented students face while at school. This population of students do not have access to Federal Student Aid, loans, and most scholarships, and do not have access to a central location where they can receive help with resources they do qualify for. The creation of this resource at San Francisco State University is one of my biggest dreams and goals.

Sounds like great work ahead — we can’t wait to hear about what you do in the near future! How would you say free legal services have helped DACA applicants?

Legal forms and the English language can be obstacles for DACA-eligible people, but free legal services help this specific population with their applications, giving them access to new opportunities. With this new eligibility, DACA recipients can join the workforce and contribute to society, proving how the country can benefit from immigrants. I believe DACA will play in important role in immigration, because it is the start of something bigger, like immigration reform. 

We couldn’t agree more on the importance of programs like DACA and DAPA, and we are grateful for our partners, supporters, and volunteers for bringing justice to those who need it most.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Miguel! We will miss you! We know you will achieve everything you’ve set your mind to! 


To keep updated on Miguel’s current endeavors and projects, follow him on Behance, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Transforming the civil legal aid system…

Through pro bono innovation

Here, at OneJustice, we believe that pro bono work brings help, hope, and justice to thousands of Californians each year. Pro bono work holds the power to transform the civil legal aid system and create equal access to legal help across the state. It inspires smiles and makes all the difference for an individual in need – heck tons of individuals! So today, we’d like to take a moment to update you on the tremendous pro bono innovations the network made last year plus give you a sneak peek at what’s in store for this year!

IMAGE: Volunteer attorney holding sign that says, "Working with DAPA applicants pursuing higher education brings help, hope, and justice."2015 Pro Bono Innovations with Impact:

Developed a Replicable, Highly-Efficient Model for Pro Bono Engagement in Immigration Assistance: OneJustice developed a toolkit that empowers organizations throughout the state to develop their own pro bono-driven clinics to help immigrants apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. The toolkit was created based on data collected by OneJustice at clinics around the state and features workshop models that OneJustice itself vetted through its Justice Bus and Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative projects.

Transformed the Way Nonprofits Train Pro Bono Attorneys: OneJustice helped initiate the Pro Bono Training Institute, a project that develops highly-interactive online trainings that empower attorneys around the state to help low-income communities. By using a collaborative model in which multiple legal aid organizations around the state help create each training, OneJustice, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County reduced the burden on individual organizations to create pro bono trainings and created a more efficient community response to the training needs of pro bono attorneys. In just the second half of 2015, the Training Institute created trainings in more than 18 subject areas!

Innovated Assistance to Rural Veterans with Criminal Records: Working with local partners around the state, OneJustice identified a particular need among rural veterans for assistance with criminal record expungements. Responding to that need, OneJustice organized 9 veterans-focused Justice Bus trips to rural communities and helped 23 individuals petition for record clearances, paving the way to expanded access to employment opportunities and other benefits.

2016 Goals for Innovating Pro Bono:IMAGE: Volunteer attorney holding sign that says, "TIME makes all the difference."

Make Bay Area Pro Bono Attorneys Available to Rural Immigrants Using Technology: OneJustice will commence a new project that connects immigrants in Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced counties with pro bono attorneys in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Using technology, the project aims to expand the level of assistance provided to rural immigrants beyond the limited-scope assistance they are most typically offered. The project, named Rural Immigrant Connect, will provide 15 rural immigrants with ongoing representation from Bay Area-based pro bono attorneys.

Implement a Highly-Effective Pro Bono “Hub” System for LA County’s Nationalization Efforts: OneJustice will serve as the pro bono coordinating entity for an ambitious, collaborative effort in Los Angeles County to assist immigrants in applying for U.S. citizenship. To ensure efficient and effective utilization of pro bono attorneys, OneJustice will develop an innovative, uniform pro bono training and will train and assist partners organize pro bono-staffed clinics.

CROPPED Edited_VeteransDevelop and Test a Sustainable Model to Bring Consistent Legal Help to Rural Veterans: In an effort to move beyond the model of providing ad hoc clinical assistance to veterans in rural counties, OneJustice will test a multi-clinic response to the needs of veterans in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in partnership with Pepperdine University School of Law. Drawing from legal needs assessments, OneJustice will fashion and execute at least five clinics staffed by Pepperdine Law students that assist more than 75 veterans in need of legal assistance.

Tons of great work ahead! Keep tuned for more awesome updates!

The Justice Bus: Bringing Legal Assistance from Silicon Valley to Bay Area Immigrants

FWD features recent Justice Bus trip to Vallejo.

Today, we are delighted to bring you a special guest blog post by FWD.us on their recent Justice Bus trip to Vallejo. FWD.us is an organization founded by world-class technologists such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marissa Mayer to support comprehensive immigration reform and policies. A big thank you to Fenwick & West LLP and LinkedIn for joining us in bringing vital legal assistance where it’s needed most!

We can’t thank FWD.us enough for featuring our DreamSF Fellow, Miguel Castillo! Check out this amazing read!


JusticeBus_CoverPhoto1By: Katie Aragon, Silicon Valley Director of FWD.us, and Justice Bus Rider

Have you ever been on a “Justice Bus”? Well I have, last Wednesday, and it was awesome.

Because how else would you describe watching dozens of high powered lawyers and legal professionals from Silicon Valley and San Francisco law firms and companies help 23 hard-working members of our community become U.S. citizens, or apply for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)?

Yeah. Awesome.

The day-long trip, which sent the lawyers and legal professionals on a bus from Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco over the Bay Bridge to Vallejo, CA, was organized by OneJustice, a statewide non-profit organization that brings life-changing legal help to those in need by transforming the civil legal aid system.

In many rural or low-income communities like Vallejo, legal need far outstrips supply. For example, in Solano County, there is on average ONE attorney for every 77 low-income individuals. Because our communities are safer and more secure when folks are protected under programs like DACA or are naturalized U.S. citizens, the work done by OneJustice and its partners, like the International Institute of the Bay Area, is incredibly important.

Photo: Fenwick & West LLP and LinkedIn attorney volunteers at the Justice Bus DACA and immigration clinic on September 30th in Vallejo.

Fenwick & West LLP and LinkedIn attorney volunteers at the Justice Bus DACA and immigration clinic on September 30th in Vallejo.

One of the highlights of the Justice Bus clinic was the building of bonds between communities. I met Miguel (featured above), a DACA beneficiary who is now able to give back to his community as a DreamSF Fellow at OneJustice, where he works with the organization’s Pro Bono Justice Program, and helps organize free mobile legal clinics. I also watched as Mike, a lawyer with Fenwick & West LLP, helped Armando*, an elderly Giants fan, fill out his citizenship application. Armando has been in the U.S. since the 1980s and is a fixture at his local church.

At the end of the day, we helped 23 Bay Area immigrants like Miguel and Armando apply for U.S. citizenship or DACA.

Meeting new friends like Miguel, who are so extraordinary but are only able to work today because of DACA, reminded me of the urgent need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The immigration system today is deeply flawed, and our country will benefit economically and culturally from fixing it. That is why we look to Congress and the Senate to work with us to pass comprehensive immigration reform for families and businesses in 2017.

*Name changed for confidentiality


Original Article posted on FWD.us blog on 10/15/15; reposted here with the permission of FWD and Katie Aragon.

85 trips and counting…

Our very own Justice Bus Program Coordinator, Ruby Kimberly, tells us about bringing vital legal assistance to Hollister.

In her time at OneJustice, Ruby has coordinated 85 Justice Bus trips around the state! These trips are made possible by our amazing volunteers, partner organizations, corporations, and firms, who join forces to bring life-changing legal help to communities all over the state. As a valuable member of our Pro Bono Justice program, we asked Ruby to share a trip that resonated with her the most during her time at OneJustice.


Guest Blogger: Ruby Kimberly, OneJustice Justice Bus Program Coordinator

[Photo: Hollister-CA]

Photo credit: Realty World

I had been an employee of OneJustice for less than eight months when I boarded a bus to Hollister in July 2014. Before this trip, I had already attended over 20 Justice Bus trips bringing free legal services to nearly 600 low-income individuals throughout the state. Since joining the Pro Bono Justice team as the Justice Bus Program Associate the previous October, I had traveled to and helped organize free legal clinics in communities as far flung and geographically diverse as the Klamath, just south of the Oregon border, to Pixley, a census designated place at the far end of California’s drought-ridden Central Valley. And while each mile traveled proved as critical as the next, I felt something special on this particular day as we made our way down the 101, through Santa Clara County and into the sparsely populated San Benito Valley. This was the first time that the Justice Bus had ever traveled to Hollister, but it would not be the last.

The story of Hollister for me is one of a justice gap and how to fill it. For those who have never heard it, “justice gap” is a term used to describe the discrepancy between the concentration of legal resources in urban areas versus the concentration of low-income and particularly vulnerable populations in rural ones. For example, where as in San Francisco there is one attorney for every six low-income individuals, San Benito County has just one attorney for every 120 low-income individuals. Bridging gaps such as this is the entire raison d’etre for the Justice Bus Project, and it is a goal which requires the effort of a diverse group of stakeholders, usually located in multiple different regions, as well as dexterity and mobility (hence the bus!). And, never had it been more evident to me how well suited the Justice Bus Project is for this seemingly insurmountable task than in the case of Hollister.

[Photo: Lowenstein Sandler LLP attorney volunteers assist a client with citizenship matters at the July 2014 clinic.]

Lowenstein Sandler LLP attorney volunteers assist a client with citizenship matters at the July 2014 clinic.

Our journey to Hollister had begun several months earlier when we received a call from a teacher at the local community college. He heard about a Justice Bus clinic we were holding in a neighboring town to assist Green Card holders with their applications for citizenship and wanted to sign some of his students up. Despite the dearth of resources in San Benito County, we would not be able to serve his students, because funding restrictions on this particular clinic limited appointments to locals only.

But the thing I love most about the Justice Bus Project is that where there’s a will, there’s usually a way, and -– after piecing together four different partners from four different counties -– a way we found! Now just over a year later, we’ve held two immigration-focused clinics there, delivering free services to 42 individuals and helping to build a permanent network dedicated to serving the Hollister community.

We continue to receive phone calls from organizations across the County inquiring about our services and how they can help, and together, we’re watching as day-by-day this gap slowly shrinks.

“I am so thankful for this event because much of the time I don’t have the resources necessary to take care of things like [my immigration paperwork]. For me, it is very important to vote but I couldn’t for lack of money to apply for citizenship. Thank you for coming to our community and changing this.” – Client from Hollister clinic


Ruby KimberlyAs the Justice Bus Program Coordinator in the Pro Bono Justice Program, Ruby Kimberly coordinates Justice Bus trips in Northern and Southern California, mobilizing attorney and law school student volunteers to bring life-changing legal help to isolated communities in the state.

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