Vanessa Demaral named 2023 Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow

Vanessa Demaral, Class of 2023, will represent unaccompanied minors facing deportation as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow with Church World Service in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Demaral is one of 90 Justice Fellows in the IJC’s 2023 class.

Church World Service (CWS) is a nonprofit that supports refugees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers with an array of services, including resettlement; employment; social services and support; and legal advice and representation through a staff of licensed professionals.

Demaral will extend CWS’ capacity to represent unaccompanied minors in removal proceeding before the Immigration Courts and in proceedings involving U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Immigrant Justice Corps Fellowship program identifies promising lawyers who are passionate about immigrants’ rights, places them with organizations where they can make a positive difference, and provides training throughout the two-year fellowship. Fellows receive a full salary and benefits at their host organizations.

During law school, Demaral worked as a legal intern with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a Nashville-based nonprofit that provides legal and other services to immigrants, and for two semesters as a student attorney in the Vanderbilt Immigration Practice Clinic, where she represented Afghan asylum seekers in proceedings before USCIS. She also worked as a legal intern with the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center in Denver and for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. She was an intern in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston in summer 2021.

“I came to law school knowing that I wanted a career in public interest law,” Demaral said. “My work with the Woodbine Immigration Clinic, the Vanderbilt Immigration Practice Clinic, and Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors allowed me to gain insight into and experience with the U.S. immigration system. I saw how much competent legal representation matters in the immigration context, how high a need there is for attorneys in this field, and how much room there is for improvement and change within this system.”

At Vanderbilt Law School, Demaral was a Dean’s Scholar, a Garrison Social Justice Summer Fellow, and a Branstetter Fellow. She completed the Law School’s Pro Bono Pledge, contributing more than 1,000 hours of pro bono legal work and community service during law school. She received the Carl J. Ruskowski Clinical Legal Education Award for her work in the Immigration Law Clinic.

A Boston native, Demaral earned her B.S. in psychology and B.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.