June 30, 2020 - The Social Justice Fund for Ventura County (SJFVC) has awarded its first Social Justice Fellowship to Maria Rodriguez. This Fellowship is the first the Fund has awarded and represents a new direction for the organization. These new fellowships, awarded to Ventura County residents and students, provide funds to emerging leaders who have a passion for justice and fairness and who need financing to achieve the goals of their projects. The grant to Maria Rodriguez will fund a project she has proposed to address issues with inadequate, and outright false or scam, legal representation for undocumented immigrants.
Maria Rodriguez is a resident of Ventura County, and a recent graduate of California Lutheran University. With a long history of being active the community, in her senior year at CLU Maria started a project to research the adequacy of legal assistance for immigrants in our community. She found numerous occasions of immigrants being fraudulently represented by individuals without legal training at outrageous cost and resulting in some undocumented people losing their life’s savings. Her project will continue to pursue her research to gain more data so that she can educate the immigrant community and approach local political leadership and law enforcement to take action to end this exploitation.