Thanina Haddadi, LL.M. ’24 and Julia Tedesco ’23 Celebrated as Emerging Leaders in Immigrant Justice Advocacy


Thanina (Nina) Haddadi, LL.M. ’24 and Julia K. Tedesco ’23 were each honored with the Feerick Center for Social Justice’s Defender of the Dream Awards at the Center’s 8th Annual FriendRaiser on March 19.

Established in 2022, the award recognizes members of the 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.

Haddadi is the co-chair of International Refugee Law & International Law of the newly established Fordham International Law Association and will graduate from Fordham Law’s LL.M. program in International Law and Justice this May. Tedesco, who graduated from Fordham Law’s evening division in 2023 with an impressive record of wins in the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy program, is a trial attorney at the New York County Defender Services, Manhattan’s public defender office.

Emerson G. Argueta ’18, associate director of the Feerick Center presented Haddadi’s award, highlighting Haddadi’s commitment to helping “defend the dream” of persecuted communities while at Fordham Law.

“Nina has volunteered on multiple pro se asylum application clinics organized by [the Feerick Center’s]partners and New York Legal Assistance Group—and through that service has helped multiple families prepare their asylum applications, thus helping keep the hope of their dreams alive,” Argueta said. “Nina also encourages her LL.M. classmates to volunteer at these clinics, rallying those whose language abilities help clinic participants feel understood in their own languages.”

Thanina (Nina) Haddadi, LL.M. ’24

In her acceptance speech, Haddadi shared her passion for immigration matters and “assisting [her]fellow immigrants.” “I wouldn’t have been able to do so without the support and the guidance I found within the Feerick Center,” she said. “This award means a lot [to me]since it motivates me to further try and make a change within the immigrant community.”

Dora Galacatos ’96, executive director of the Feerick Center, presented the award to Tedesco. The two worked together during the Center’s June 2023 service trip to Texas, where volunteers provided legal information and limited-scope assistance to migrants in area shelters as well as asylum-seekers detained in El Paso’s two immigration detention centers. Galacatos commended Tedesco for her commitment to assisting an asylum-seeking Iranian couple long after the trip concluded.

“Even though the legal services provided were limited in scope, Julia nevertheless took a holistic approach to her work—including facilitating an in-person visit for her clients when they had not seen each other in person for months, although they were detained in the same facility,” Galacatos said. “Julia’s advocacy on their behalf was absolutely instrumental in the immigration judge granting asylum to that couple [in September 2023].”

Julia K. Tedesco ’23

In her acceptance speech, Tedesco spoke about her experience meeting the couple, Ms. T* and Mr. M*, and the importance of helping those seeking refuge in the U.S.’s complicated legal process. “The next time each of you hears about our immigration crisis, I want you to think about Ms. T and Mr. M and think about their journey, their hardship, and their fight. Think of places like the Feerick Center that dedicates its time and mission to upholding the American dream. And remember there is no American dream without the immigrants that built this country and made it what it is today.”

Funds donated through the FriendRaiser event support the Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, which seeks to provide access to justice and improve policy and practice for vulnerable migrants—including families and unaccompanied immigrant children seeking asylum and other humanitarian protections—through limited-scope pro bono opportunities, convenings, educational programs, and other special initiatives.

*Ms. T and Mr. M are pseudonyms to protect the couple’s identity.


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