On October 25, 2022, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2022 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!

Immigrant Justice Project: Julia L. Davis, Director of Youth Justice & Child Welfare at the Children's Defense Fund - NY

The Immigrant Justice Project assists asylum seekers fleeing persecution, survivors of violent crimes and trafficking, and individuals seeking humanitarian protection and other relief. 

Julia Davis has represented her client since 2011.  She began working with the City Bar Justice Center while in private practice, but her passion for public service and commitment to her client led her to continue her representation while at different workplaces, including her current position as the Director of Youth Justice and Child Welfare at the Children’s Defense Fund-NY.  

Her client first came to the U.S. at age 14 to reunite with his parents amid a civil war and ethnic violence in his home country. By the time his case was finally heard many years later, however, fighting had dissipated, and the immigration judge denied him asylum. Undeterred, Julia argued for and obtained prosecutorial discretion to prevent her client’s deportation to a country in which he no longer had cultural or familial ties. She helped her client apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was granted, allowing him to attend school and work lawfully. Julia has worked with her client to continually renew and maintain his DACA status. 

But Julia’s advocacy did not end there. Given the many attempts to rescind the DACA program, Julia knew that her client’s future remained uncertain and precarious, so she was determined to keep fighting.  Her client eventually married and started his own family, but still faced several legal barriers to permanent residency. After overcoming those barriers, Julia was able to successfully reopen his case before the Immigration Court and spent hours prepping her client. Having waited years for his day in Immigration Court, Julia, despite having a broken shoulder, dragged a heavy litigation bag to court and argued her client’s application in front of the same judge who had ordered his removal ten years earlier. This time, however, they prevailed and her client’s application for adjustment of status was granted. Almost twenty-one years to the day he first arrived in the U.S., her client received his green card! 

Her client’s journey is emblematic of the many challenges that face Justice Center clients – immigration court backlogs that delay cases for years, enforcement policies that disproportionately target young black and Hispanic men and have dire collateral consequences impacting immigration status, and the failure to pass legislation providing permanent protection for DREAMers ten years after the creation of DACA.   

Her client has persevered through it all, and Julia has stood with him every step of the way.  She has fought to promote the dignity and protect the rights of her client, within a system that profoundly dehumanizes immigrants and asylum seekers. Due in no small part to her steadfast, inspired, and brilliant advocacy, Julia’s client can finally look to the future in the United States, freely and safely. 

Julia’s commitment and advocacy are unparalleled, and the City Bar Justice Center is proud to present her with a 2022 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award.