NILC Attorney a “Champion of Change”

June 16, 2014

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

National Immigration Law Center’s Kamal Essaheb Named a Presidential “Champion of Change”

Immigrant Who Once Faced Deportation to Join June 17 White House Celebration

WASHINGTON — Kamal Essaheb, an immigration policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center’s Washington, DC, office, was named a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama earlier today. The White House cited Essaheb’s work to promote the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as an example of his commitment to improving the lives of immigrants across the country. Essaheb, who came to the United States at age 11, has dedicated his legal career to ensuring that immigrant families are better able to navigate an infamously complex legal system.

At the National Immigration Law Center, Essaheb works with young immigrants such as himself, government officials, and other allies to advocate for broad immigration reform and the fair implementation of current laws and policies. Essaheb is also an ardent supporter of efforts to restore fairness, due process, and justice to our detention and deportation system.

Like some other young immigrants, Essaheb was able to achieve his educational goals by securing private scholarships and other forms of financial support. As a law student at Fordham University, he was awarded Stein scholarships to support his commitment to community advocacy. Unlike other law students, Essaheb faced an additional hurdle while attending law school: he was using his developing legal skills to stop his own deportation. His experience navigating through the Department of Homeland Security’s draconian detention and deportation system has compelled him to advocate for fairness for other immigrants who face similar challenges.

“The attorneys and advocates who helped me with my case continue to serve as a personal and professional inspiration to me,” said Essaheb. “My goal today is to do for others what so many legal advocates have done for me — fight to restore fairness and due process to a system that has for too long been blind to these fundamental American values.”

“Over the last two years, Kamal has proven to be a savvy advocate for low-income immigrants and their families, cutting through legalese to help policymakers, the media, and others understand the consequences of our inhumane and irrational immigration system,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “This recognition by the White House comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched him fight to ensure that all people, regardless of where they were born or how much money they have, are treated with dignity. We are very proud that, as someone who has been directly impacted by our deportation policies, Kamal is being honored today by the White House for using his legal and policy expertise to create systemic change.”

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the only advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC advances its mission through an integrated approach of advocacy, litigation, and communication strategies. Over the past three decades, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental rights, promoted pro-immigrant policies resulting in greater integration, and advanced major policies that reinforce our nation’s values of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

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