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East End Latino advocacy group hires civil rights and immigration attorneys to provide policy counsel and free immigration services


Wanda Sánchez Day, left, and Lucía Damerau, attorneys hired by OLA of Eastern Long Island. Courtesy photos: OLA


OLA of Eastern Long Island (Organización Latino Americana) has hired a civil rights attorney and an immigration attorney to assist the organization in its social justice advocacy and provide pro bono legal services for low-income immigrants on the East End.

Civil rights attorney Wanda Sánchez Day has been hired as OLA’s general counsel/senior policy counsel and immigration attorney Lucía Damerau is OLA’s new director of immigration legal services, the organization announced in a press release last week. Both bring extensive experience in their respective specializations, OLA said.


A civil rights attorney for over 20 years, Sánchez Day is admitted to practice law in the State of New York and brings to OLA a background in nonprofit management and federal and state civil and criminal defense litigation, in addition to experience seeking international and nationwide law and policy reforms that empower vulnerable communities.

Sánchez Day has served as chief legal officer and national legal director for UNITED SIKHS, a United Nations-affiliated nonprofit focusing on international humanitarian aid and human rights advocacy. Since 2021, she has been a certified New York State Department of Education impartial hearing officer presiding in New York City special education due process hearings. She has also represented indigent families and individuals in summary eviction proceedings as a housing staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of New York, served as vice president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, Civil Practice and co-chaired the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/Legal Aid Society’s Management Hiring and Affirmative Action Committee. Since 2022, she has served as co-chair of the Puerto Rico Task Force of the NYC Bar Association. She has served on the board of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and currently serves on the board of the Latino Judges Association Foundation.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Queens, NY, Sánchez Day earned her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, where she graduated with public service distinction as a Louis Stein Ethics and Public Interest Scholar. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College-CUNY.


Damerau comes to OLA after serving as the Fragomen Fellow at the City Bar Justice Center, a pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association. There she represented immigrant clients in removal proceedings and with applications for immigration relief such as asylum and family-based petitions. Prior to joining Fragomen, Damerau served as a staff attorney with the Immigration Advocacy Project at Legal Services of New York City. In this capacity, she represented low-income individuals and crime survivors seeking immigration relief, in removal proceedings, and in custody and guardianship proceedings. In both positions she also managed, organized, and led pro bono clinics and mentored pro bono attorneys. Damerau was also a staff attorney with the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families.


She has conducted numerous community presentations to educate immigrants about their rights, immigration policy, immigration remedies, and resources available to community members.


Damerau earned her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law, where in 2016 she received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for being the top student in the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University. Originally from Guatemala, she is a longtime resident of Queens, NY.


Damerau is a 2023 recipient of the National LGBTQ+ Bar’s “40 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40” award.


As senior policy counsel, Sánchez Day will work closely with Executive Director Minerva Perez on advocacy strategies to address unjust or unlawful policies and practices of local institutions that adversely affect East End Latinos and/or immigrants. As general counsel, she will provide counsel and guidance to OLA on all legal matters, including those related to personnel, policies, procedures, rules, and regulations.


“OLA is the only organization on the East End of Long Island that focuses on addressing the needs of Latino school children, tenants, migrants, victims, workers, and business owners,” said Sánchez Day.


“These community members are the backbone of the economy and the future of the East End. Although they make up a considerable portion of the population, they sadly do not have a voice or say in the economic, social, or political matters of the region. I’m happy to join OLA and staff like Minerva Perez, Sandra Dunn, and others who tackle this work with the conviction that all community members matter. I hope to contribute my expertise and experience in civil rights advocacy in ways that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of families and individuals on the East End,” Sánchez Day said.


In her new role, Damerau will oversee OLA’s newly launched immigration legal services program, developing policies and procedures for the program, providing legal counsel to clients and their families applying for immigration relief, and delivering educational presentations to community members.


“I accepted the position of Director of Immigration Legal Services at OLA because I am passionately committed to advancing the rights and opportunities of Latino immigrants,” said Damerau.


“I strongly believe in the nonprofit’s mission of fostering a more harmonious coexistence through community education and legal support. I was particularly drawn to OLA’s wide range of advocacy programs, which resonated deeply with my desire to create tangible change in the lives of vulnerable people. Additionally, the opportunity to work in a close-knit, culturally diverse community like the East End presents a unique platform for me to employ my legal expertise to advance the rights of immigrants,” Damerau said.


“Wanda and Lucía bring tremendous expertise and a deep understanding of the issues that immigrant community members face here on the East End,” Perez said. “Their work has already begun to have a positive impact here. Along with the rest of our dedicated team, these two attorneys are helping to create meaningful and lasting change that will benefit our entire region,” she said. Source: https://riverheadlocal.com/2023/06/22/east-end-latino-advocacy-group-hires-civil-rights-and-immigration-attorneys-to-provide-policy-counsel-and-free-immigration-services/

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