Cristina Awadalla


Cristina Awadalla

Advisory Board Member, and GLP Community Intern

Santa Barbara Immigrant Legal Defense Center

The Santa Barbara Immigrant Legal Defense Center was formed in October 2018, in response to new US Presidential and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities that increased the number of immigrants at risk of being placed in deportation proceedings. As of June 2021 has extended their services to Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. The center’s mission is to provide equal access to justice and due process by providing pro bono legal services for immigrants in deportation proceedings, asylum seekers, and unaccompanied minors. Most of their clients arrive from Central America. With a rise in the number of unaccompanied minors in our county, the center increasingly works to support unaccompanied immigrant children through their legal proceedings. Another area of work is community education, which the center recognizes as one measure to mediate the deportation pipeline. The organization’s Know Your Rights programming works with community members by training and supporting them as Immigration Ambassadors. While the deportation process is complicated, Immigration Ambassadors have been able to empower residents to effectively assert their rights with the aim to prevent immigration arrests should they encounter ICE. 

As the Global Latinidades Project community intern, sixth-year sociology doctoral candidate Cristina Awadalla has worked to support the center’s work under the supervision of Executive Director Julissa Peña. Cristina worked with local nonprofit, Just Communities, to expand existing community education initiatives by developing a Know Your Rights Project that trains young community members. Youth who go through the program develop facilitation skills and knowledge about immigrant rights and the immigration system. Cristina has conducted research on immigration policies, developed curriculums, and led training for the nine youth of the pilot program which began in August 2021. Members of this cohort have begun delivering workshops for the local community on topics that cover some basic info about the immigration system, defensive rights, and offensive strategies. In keeping with the goals of the center, this program seeks to empower community members to inform friends and family members of their rights and demystify the immigration system. Cristina’s ongoing work also includes grant-seeking in order to support the work of the Immigrant Legal Defense Center and expand the Know Your Rights project to reach wider demographics in the Santa Barbara County area. 

GLP Research Assistant