July 15, 2024
Annapolis, US 80 F

Suzanne Martin Named Executive Director of Annapolis Immigration Justice Network

Suzanne Martin, Executive Director, Annapolis Immigration Justice Network

Suzanne Martin has been named the inaugural executive director of the Annapolis Immigration Justice Network (AIJN), Board president Monica Rausa Williams announced yesterday.

Since April 2017, AIJN had worked strictly as an all-volunteer organization, connecting Anne Arundel County neighbors to quality immigration legal counsel and direct case management assistance.

Thanks to the strong support of faith and civic organizations, grants, fundraisers from the restaurant community, private donors, and a dedicated group of volunteers, AIJN has grown substantially since its inception four years ago. As a result, the board recognized it was time for a full-time executive director to lead the organization to the next level, Rausa Williams noted.

“Suzanne has served as the founder and president of AIJN since day one,” Rausa Williams said in making today’s announcement. “Under her leadership, our volunteers have assisted more than 350 of our immigrant neighbors, connecting them to quality legal counsel and case management support, and have provided more than $200,000 in legal fee assistance to families and individuals in Anne Arundel County.

“Suzanne’s efforts supporting the immigrant community have been recognized by the Maryland General Assembly, the Office of the County Executive, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, and other local organizations,” Rausa Williams added.  “The Board is confident in Suzanne’s leadership as she continues to build upon our successes and propel us forward.”

Martin said that while she is honored to be named the organization’s first executive director, “None of this tremendous work would have been possible without the unyielding dedication and support of many volunteers and supporters, as we all came together to walk alongside our neighbors navigating the complex immigration process.

“Our mission began four years ago, when about forty people met in a local church to figure out how to help immigrants living in our community,” Martin recalled. “That evening, we listened to an Annapolis family tell their story about their husband and father who had been taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement only days before. We heard firsthand of their struggles and the inequities of the system.

“Our group was called to action,” she added, “and we brainstormed ways to walk alongside this family and other immigrants in our county. That’s how AIJN was formed. We have been humbled and inspired by the many men, women, and children who have reached out to us for assistance in obtaining quality legal representation.”

A 2017 Syracuse University study found that 90% of asylum seekers without legal representation lose their asylum cases in court, while nearly 50% who retain attorneys are granted asylum.

“AIJN believes that access to legal representation for immigrants brings hope, stability and a long-term solution for those living in our county” Martin stated. “We are dedicated to the fundamental right to due process for all individuals fleeing their countries of origin.”

Martin’s appointment as the new executive director took effect last month.

For more information about AIJN, including how to volunteer, please visit their website.

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