Sandy Lackmann is a third-year honors student pursuing majors in International Studies and Spanish and a minor in Human Rights. She was recently awarded a $12,000 Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Scholarship in support of her honors thesis titled, “Advocacy or Abuse? The role of U.S. immigration law in the lives of asylum-seeking Central American women.” Sandy plans to defend her thesis, which is advised by Dr. Kendra McSweeney, Professor of Geography, during the upcoming Fall 2018 semester. She writes about her project:
While debate on the viability of immigration in this country is commonplace in the media, I believe that it is imperative to document not only the struggles of immigrants in their home country but also the obstacles they face upon entering the U.S. immigration legal system. My research will attempt to identify and suggest reforms for the lack of due process for immigrants, particularly those fleeing domestic violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle, which includes Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. I have identified three primary areas of deficit in due process in U.S. immigration law: (1) lack of access to adequate translation services, (2) lack of access to clear information about the law and each immigrant’s rights under the law, and (3) a dire lack of low and pro-bono legal representation.
This summer, I will be interning with the legal team at Ayuda-VA, a Falls Church immigration and refugee agency dedicated to providing low and pro-bono services to immigrants and refugees in the Virginia-DC-Maryland area. I’m hoping to tie in my previous experience, a summer of interning with the legal team at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Raleigh, North Carolina, with my work at Ayuda to better understand the plight of immigrant women. I am fortunate that my areas of study and research coincide with my future career goals of being an immigration attorney specializing in asylum for victims of domestic violence and unaccompanied minors.