I’m sure it’s been clear this year that this is very much a side project. One of the things that keeps me returning though are the exchanges I have with wonderful folks around this country who are doing important work year-round and full-time. As I wrap up this year’s project, here’s one such conversation with Amalia Luxardo with The Florence Project in Arizona. Thanks to Amalia for taking the time to share more about this fantastic organization!
Why is it critical to serve the population you support in the state where you are?
We work in a system where there is no public defender. Yet studies have shown time and time again that having a lawyer by your side is the deciding factor to winning a case. In fact, 93% of detained immigrants who go in front of a judge alone are deported; this is a death sentence. Here, in Arizona, we are at the epicenter of the national conversation, and we know our work saves lives. Our clients are LGBTQ individuals who have suffered persecution; children who are abused, abandoned, or neglected; women fleeing gender-based violence; or long-time residents of the United States – and they all have the right to be safe, to be treated with dignity, and to know their rights under the law.
What will your organization’s main focus(es) be in 2018?
In 2018, the Florence Project will continue to address the inequity that exists in the immigration detention system through direct services, collaborative partnerships, and advocacy efforts.
While you struggle against serious challenges in a red state, what is something positive that those of us outside of Arizona should know about the state or its people?
Even in our most challenging times, Arizonans have risen to the occasion and have stood behind our work. This year especially, we have seen a tremendous growth in our base of supporters, and we could not be prouder to stand beside the individuals who support our mission and believe that every person, no matter their legal status, should not be stripped of their legal rights.