Razeen Zaman ’16 was honored with the Feerick Center for Social Justice’s Defender of the Dream Award at the Center’s 7th Annual Friendraiser on April 24. At the time, Zaman was a staff attorney at the New York University Immigrant Defense Initiative, where she provided legal consultations and representation to the NYU community, including students, faculty, and employees. Recently, she joined the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she will lead their immigration work.
Established in 2022, the award recognizes members of the Feerick Center and Fordham Law School communities who have distinguished themselves for their work and service in advancing human rights, upholding the rule of law, and transforming systems to advance justice and allow every person a genuine opportunity to realize their dreams and aspirations.
The award was presented to Zaman by Jojo Annobil ’90, executive director of the Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) and co-chair of the Feerick Center’s advisory board. Annobil, who met Zaman in 2016 when she served as an IJC fellow, called Zaman “an inspiration to us all.”
“Razeen exemplifies everything the Defender of the Dream Award stands for: perseverance in her fight to realize her own dream; courage and resiliency in advocating for respect, dignity and equal opportunity for DREAMers and migrants; [and] fighting for [their] liberty and freedom [so that they] live their dreams,” said Annobil. “Her tireless efforts advocating for broader immigration systems change and access to counsel when migrants are at risk of being deprived of their liberty is exemplary.”
In her acceptance speech, Zaman spoke about how participating in one of the Center’s first-ever service trips to Texas helped shape her career in immigration justice.
“Because I had this formative experience where I did volunteer work [at the South Texas Family Residential Center] in Dilley during my last year at Fordham Law, I felt like I was walking in with a [better] understanding of the more important skills of lawyering … [which includes how] to treat your clients with respect, compassion, and understanding,” said Zaman. “It’s a duty upon all of us, for those of us who have the privilege, to make sure that we’re working towards a world where there aren’t that many disparities in power and privilege.”
A record number of 158 donors raised funds for the Center at this year’s event, helping to surpass its fundraising goals for its important work. Funds raised will specifically support the Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, which promotes the rule of law and seeks to protect the rights of asylum-seekers through fact-finding, limited-scope pro bono opportunities, convenings, educational programs, and other special initiatives.
Read more about the four Fordham Law students who traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border during their spring break this year through the Project. They were able to assist 10 asylum seekers through a pro se application clinic in El Paso, Texas, with staff members of the Center.