Anyone who’s paid attention to the news knows that immigration is a hot topic. Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid attorney Rebecca Scholtz has made it her life’s work to bring the issue down to a human level.
She has represented children in asylum and in special immigrant juvenile cases, a task that can be especially challenging because of the trauma many unaccompanied children go through before, during and after their journey here.
“I was interested in immigration issues even before law school,” recalled Scholtz, who also worked with migrant children in the Peace Corps. “This was my dream job. I’m lucky in that I get to do both direct representation and broader work.”
In a number of cases, she has been able to secure permanent legal relief for unaccompanied Central American children who are facing deportation from the United States.
“The piece you provide them can sometimes be the one thing that allows them to move forward and flourish,” said Scholtz, who also works with law students via the University of Minnesota’s Center For New Americans.
Scholtz has created a working group that meets quarterly to discuss legal issues facing unaccompanied children, among other initiatives.
“We try to educate the community, increase legal resources and identify kids who need help,” she said.