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Human Trafficking in Immigrant Communities: Current Issues in Preparing Petitions for T Nonimmigrant Status

Author(s): Lori L. Cohen, Charlotte A. Watson
Practice Area: Immigration, Pro Bono
Published: Nov 2016
PLI Item #: 183133
CHB Spine #: 75

Lori Cohen is Director of the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families, Center for Battered Women's Legal Services in New York, where she represents immigrant and domestic victims of human trafficking and conducts training sessions for the judiciary, law enforcement, legal and health care professionals, social service providers and community based organizations. Ms.  Cohen has lectured on a range of trafficking matters across the US, Mexico and Russia.  Her work on behalf of trafficking victims has been reported widely in the media, including the BBC, the NY Times, the NY Daily News, Newsweek, Telemundo and Univision.  Additionally, Ms. Cohen is a lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where she is currently facilitating a Capstone research project for the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP).  Previously, Ms. Cohen served as Director of Immigration Legal Services at the Archdiocese of Detroit, where she represented immigrants in a broad range of matters; and taught Immigration and Refugee & Asylum Law at the University of Michigan Law School.  Ms. Cohen is a contributing author to “The Lawyers’ Manual on Human Trafficking”  and  “The Lawyers’ Manual on Domestic Violence,” both published by the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts.  She serves on the boards of the National Council of Jewish Women, where she chairs the Anti-Trafficking Advisory Committee, and Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps as a member of the Executive Committee.

Ms. Cohen is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and clerked for the Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall in the US District Court, Central District of California.

Charlotte A. Watson serves as Executive Director of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts and as Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Policy & Planning. She develops educational and training programs for local and state courts and creates economic, technological solutions for delivering high quality training across multiple venues and provides technical assistance to the courts on issues related to domestic violence and human trafficking. Ms. Watson brings over forty years of leadership experience in addressing violent crimes against women. She has been instrumental in strengthening New York’s laws on domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

Her career began in Texas as a founder of one of the first programs to meet the needs of victims of rape and domestic violence. She moved to New York in 1986 to serve as Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place, an internationally recognized domestic violence organization. She served on the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors, chairing the legislative committee and on the Advisory Board of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. In 1999, she was appointed by the Governor to serve as the Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and later as the State Refugee Coordinator and Senior Advisor on Human Trafficking to the Governor. While working in the governor’s office, she crafted the New York State response to human trafficking and in 2006, organized the first statewide conference on human trafficking bringing together stakeholders from every sector to begin building a coordinated effort for change in New York. She joined the Unified Court System in 2007 where she has presented numerous judicial educational programs on topics related to gender-based violence and assisted in the development of human trafficking and domestic violence courts.  In 2015, she co-edited the Lawyer’s Manual on Domestic Violence, 6th Edition and organized the National Summit on Human Trafficking and the State Courts which brought together chief judges and their teams from forty-six states and four territories to develop action plans for their states.

Ms. Watson has created numerous coalitions and collaborations during her career to bring about unprecedented partnerships and change. She was one of the first in the country to involve men in the effort to end domestic violence and partnered with the NY Giants and the NY Yankees in this effort. She has been on numerous television and radio programs and quoted in many newspapers. Ms. Watson was named by Gannett Newspapers as one of the 100 Most Influential Westchester, Rockland, Putnam Citizens of the 20th Century, listed in Who’s Who of American Women; Who’s Who Among Young American Professionals; Who’s Who in the World and cited in the Congressional Record. She was honored by the Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence with the In the Trenches Award and has been named one of New York’s New Abolitionists.