What do you think about when you hear the word “undocumented immigrant”? When I consider the term, newscasts featuring politicians who fear the “end of America” come to mind. One could even refer back to Donald Trump’s tirade about Mexican drug dealers, rapists, and criminals just a few weeks ago. The political debate surrounding the flawed U.S. immigration system continues to boggle the minds of policymakers to this day, regardless of whether they belong to the right or left wing. Some proposed solutions include large walls surrounding the country, new pathways to citizenship, and more obstacles for incoming immigrants. Despite political standing, everyone believes that there needs to be some kind of change. That is where the organization Kids in Need of Defense comes into the picture.
Co-founded by Angelina Jolie and the Microsoft Corporation, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) offers pro-bono legal services to unaccompanied children who come to the United States without any protection or guidance. Many of the clients that I have had the pleasure to encounter are minors who have escaped from gang-based violence, extreme poverty, and parental abandonment in countries like Honduras and Guatemala. KIND pairs these children with attorneys from larger, profit-based law firms to ensure that every child appears in court with legal representation. The national organization also focuses on political lobbying, grassroots advocacy, and various campaigns to ensure that these children are able to experience the highest quality of life possible in the United States. Without the help of non-profit organizations like KIND, minors would be the victims of an unjust, sped-up hearing process created for unaccompanied children.
I have never seen an area as diverse and unique as Los Angeles. From the large concerts to busy farmers’ markets, this county contains different cultures, cuisines, and communities. As a daughter of immigrants, I have seen the importance of having colorful, vibrant areas like Los Angeles that foster a sense of tolerance and acceptance. That is why I chose to intern at a place like KIND. Through the help of the LA Fund, I am able to live my dream and work with an organization that upholds the ideals of social justice and equality. When I first learned about this internship, I thought that I would be filing old records and fetching coffee for the actual employees. However, I could not have been more wrong. Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to work on the online database, interact with other attorneys from large firms, attend a court hearing, and meet with child immigrants from a variety of countries. I could not even believe that the United States government or narrow-minded individuals could ever think of these kids as unwanted criminals or “illegal aliens.” From the intake clinics to lawyer trainings, I could not have chosen a better organization that fits with my interests in immigration law and public policy.
The only word that comes close to describing the people at this organization is driven. I have never seen a group of individuals who are so purposeful and patient. The staff is as diverse and dynamic as its clientele. The LA staff is small, but it continues to do the work of a company about five times its size. Even though the paperwork and endless phone calls may seem tedious, the KIND -Los Angeles staff continuously goes above and beyond for the children that they represent. Since the workforce is quite small, I have had the opportunity to interact personally with all the employees, which makes me feel extremely welcome and blessed.
Although work for a non-profit organization may not be the most glamorous or lucrative, I believe it is the most rewarding. I would encourage anyone who is interested in a particular cause to participate and try to make a difference in the world. [Yes, yes. I know that sounds corny.] Even though a job at a non-profit may not seem like a definite career choice, I truly believe that everyone should consider the importance of ambitious organizations like KIND.