Immigration Justice Campaign is an initiative of American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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Volunteer of the Year: Juliana Madaki

March 8, 2023 | STORIES

The Immigration Justice Campaign is pleased to honor Juliana Madaki as Volunteer of the Year.

Juliana’s name might be familiar to those of you who have been following our work for a while. She started volunteering with the Justice Campaign in 2019 and has since racked up a string of powerful wins. In just the past three years, Juliana has taken on 13 cases with the Justice Campaign.

An attorney in private practice in Louisville, KY, Juliana went to law school as a nontraditional student following a long career as an aircraft engineer. She discovered an interest in immigration law after meeting some members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) at a conference. “When I joined AILA, I knew nothing about immigration law,” she said. “I found the best way to learn was the Immigration Justice Campaign.”

I hear many people complain that immigrants should stand in line and wait their turn. For some people, there is no line to stand in.

Here are just a few examples of the work Juliana has done alongside immigrants through the Justice Campaign:

  • Last month, she was working with a detained asylum seeker in his 50s from Mexico when she discovered he was a U.S. citizen and was therefore being illegally held by ICE. ICE released him.
  • She won a case with a couple from Cuba who had been beaten and threatened with death by the police for their political views.
  • She successfully represented a man from Mexico who was detained after a tenant in his home was arrested for a drug charge. The man was released and reunited with his four U.S. citizen children.
  • She worked with a man from Nicaragua who was set to be deported. Instead, three days after his scheduled deportation, he was released to live with his brother.

Juliana is an immigrant herself, having moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1986. In her original volunteer application with the Justice Campaign, she wrote: “I understand, firsthand, the anxiety a person’s immigration status has on one’s mental health. I want to help.”

Her volunteering is also motivated by the structural problems with the immigration system. “I hear many people complain that immigrants should stand in line and wait their turn. For some people, there is no line to stand in,” she says. “I know for sure that the world is not like a pie, where if I get a bit, I’m taking away from what you’ve got. I believe the size of the pie is infinite.”

Juliana’s dedication, talent, and enthusiasm stand out. We are honored to work alongside her as she continues the fight for immigration justice.

Juliana Madaki

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