ALUMNI PROFILE Tess Feldman (JD ’12)
Challenging a changing system
Immigration lawyer Tess Feldman (JD ’12) serves clients whose very lives are endangered in their home countries
Tess Feldman (JD ’12) is on the front lines of an uphill battle. As manager of the Immigration Law Project at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, she provides direct services to people from dozens of countries who are fighting deportation or seeking asylum from war, gang violence, and human trafficking. Here, she discusses why she pursued a career in immigration law, how ever-changing laws hurt her clients, and why she’s become a better lawyer.
Career origins: I’ve studied Spanish since I was a child. I loved the language, the community it allowed me to access, and how much my horizons were broadened by being bilingual. When I graduated from Loyola and got an offer to join an immigration law firm headed up by three Loyola law alumni, I took the job. And that formulated a lot of what has gotten me into the social justice space and the specific type of immigration work I’m doing now.
Caring for clients: I don’t serve only immigrant clients, and I don’t serve only LGBT clients. Many of our clients identify as LGBTQIA+ in some way, but their family members may not. And while they may be members of that community, they’re also members of indigenous communities or other marginalized communities. Because it is so dangerous for my clients to be who they are in [their home] countries, we have incredible demand for legal representation in asylum cases.