Justice-Seeking Organization of the Year:
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
Funded in 1999, the mission of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas is to promote international human rights through local service to refugees and immigrants who have suffered human rights abuses. HRI provides them with free legal and social services, and represents immigrants who have been victims of violence. Many HRI clients flee their homelands after experiencing torture and imprisonment because of their religious or political beliefs and apply for asylum in the United States. HRI also handles matters under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. HRI helps immigrant children who are victims of violent crimes, neglect, abuse or abandonment, as well as human trafficking victims. Legal services are delivered primarily through the agency's extensive network of volunteer attorneys.
Human Rights Initiative also provides a range of social services to its legal clients. This includes case management and referrals to appropriate area service providers, job search assistance, group activities, and individual guidance. They are lawyers and social workers, pastors and students. They are regular working people.
Through a strong network of dedicated pro-bono lawyers and volunteers, for the past 18 years Human Rights Initiative has helped those who have suffered terrible wrongs at home for worshiping their God - For speaking out against oppression - For being women.
They provide legal representation and social services free of charge to those who have fled persecution and arrived in Dallas, Texas with little or nothing.
When the hateful rhetoric is loud and raucous, it can be tempting to lose sight of why we do what we do. But we are easily drawn back to our mission by our fearless clients and our incredible supporters.
Their clients are the 11-year-old girls fleeing countries like Honduras and El Salvador because they were being stalked by gang members. They are the women who give up everything they have ever known in order to escape the relentless cycle of domestic abuse. They are the parents of young children who are sexually assaulted and work with law enforcement to ensure the offender is put in jail. And they are the “defenders of democracy” who stand up to corrupt politicians in countries like Cameroon and Zimbabwe and pay the price for their candor in broken bones and other trauma.
The Human Rights Initiative provides the resources – the hope – these courageous people need to leave their persecutors behind and begin anew.