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NPR Spotlights Alumna’s Advocacy on Behalf of Juvenile Immigrants

Tanishka Cruz, '12

July 29, 2016

A report on a wave of juvenile immigrants from Central America aired by NPR on July 28 featured an interview with alumna Tanishka Cruz, ’12.

An attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, Va., Cruz is representing two teen-aged brothers who fled El Salvador on their own to escape their violent father.

The two boys are among a growing number of unaccompanied minors who have begun seeking asylum in the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

A State Department decision to stop issuing Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Visas for unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras created a sudden and unexpected backlog of applications, Cruz said.

“That has never happened before,” she said, adding that she previously could help unaccompanied minors anticipate what to expect from the immigration process and when they might receive a visa. “Now it’s a lot more unclear.”

With thousands of abandoned, abused and neglected juvenile immigrants lacking legal representation, New York Law School Professor Lenni Benson said, the boys Cruz represents are lucky to have an advocate.

As a student, Cruz served as co-president of the Latin American Law Student Association.