On October 22, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the Bay Area awarded the prestigious FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award to Immigration Attorney and Associate Clinical Professor Lynette Parker for her extensive and tireless work on behalf of survivors of human trafficking. Professor Parker will be recognized at a press conference on the Santa Clara University campus in January 2015, and will travel later to Washington D.C., where she will be recognized by FBI Director James B. Comey.
Every year, each of the FBI’s 56 field offices selects one individual or organization for this special award, formally created in 1990 to honor the winners’ efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America. While the award recipients may come from different backgrounds, diverse professional fields, and many parts of the country, they all share the same motivation—a desire and commitment to assist those in need and make their communities safer.
During her 14-year tenure at the Alexander Community Law Center, Professor Parker has provided legal advice and representation to hundreds of low-income residents of Santa Clara and neighboring counties, while mentoring countless students in the practice of immigration law. She is recognized nationally as an expert in cases of political asylum, protection from domestic violence under VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) and human trafficking. In particular, her work with survivors of human trafficking has led to her collaboration with many local organizations to provide comprehensive and coordinated relief to her clients, including counseling, housing, and legal support, among other services.
Through her work with many partnering organizations, she was instrumental in helping to establish the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking (SBCEHT) in 2005. In 2009 and 2011, under Parker’s leadership, the Alexander Community Law Center and its SBCEHT partnering organizations obtained $300,000, two-year grants from the U.S. Department of Justice to better serve survivors of human trafficking. More recently, SBCEHT selected Professor Parker to serve as one of its two representatives on the newly-formed Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Commission, chaired by Supervisor Cindy Chavez, District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Sheriff Laurie Smith. The second representative is Ruth Silver Taube, another Alexander Law Center attorney.
Conservative estimates place the illicit profit of human trafficking at $32 billion worldwide per year. And the FBI has identified the Bay Area, given its affluence, its openness, and its dynamic economy, as a magnet for such exploitation. “While more and more people seem to be aware of this issue, it’s important to keep talking about it because it’s still a big problem locally and nationally,” said Professor Parker. This year alone, among her numerous other clients, she has assisted 15 individuals in obtaining T-Visas, reserved for survivors of human trafficking. Based on the number of hours logged by Professor Parker, her legal assistant, and her students working on these 15 cases, the estimated market cost of the services would reach about $250,000. Her clients, however, received these services free of charge.