2015 – Rocío Alcántar

Rocío Alcántar put her law degree to work at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), and in her four years there, she has demonstrated extraordinary compassion and commitment to vulnerable immigrant populations in a variety of roles. She began as a staff attorney for the Immigrant Legal Defense Project and Counter-Trafficking Projects before transitioning to a supervising attorney for the Immigrant Children’s Protection Project. Rocío responded to the influx of minors fleeing their home countries by ensuring that minors received “know your rights” presentations, individual consultations, and direct representation in removal proceedings. She also supervised NIJC’s community outreach response to Executive Action in November 2014 and developed critical partnerships with community organizations. In her current role as Supervising Attorney for Access to Counsel Special Project, Rocío works to increase NIJC’s representation of immigrants in removal proceedings, supervises services provided at a help desk in the Immigration Court, and develops policy recommendations to expand access to counsel for immigrants. Rocío’s work is vital to ensuring that these vulnerable immigrants, who often cannot access legal services, receive the assistance they need.

Rocío’s deep commitment to immigrant rights was evident throughout her time at DePaul University School of Law, where she helped create the Society for Asylum and Immigration Law, worked with immigrants and refugees during service trips, and participated in the Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.  She gained further knowledge and experience as a fellow at the school’s International Human Rights Law Institute and as an intern at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica. A PILI internship at LAF’s Immigration Project also prepared her for hands-on work in immigration law. Rocío has presented on several immigration topics at conferences and events to further spread awareness and ensure that thousands of immigrants have access to accurate information.

As a result of her extraordinary efforts and accomplishments advocating for vulnerable immigrant populations, Rocío was awarded a CBF Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship in 2015, a financial award that will help meet her law school loan obligations.  “I am so fortunate to be part of a legal community that recognizes the importance of supporting public interest attorneys who with passion and dedication work tirelessly to bring justice to all. Thank you to the Chicago Bar Foundation and the Sun-Times Fellowship for making it possible for passionate advocates to continue doing what we love.”