By, Xixi Liu
Ernie Collette is a volunteer attorney for Safe Passage and has been since September of 2014. As a graduate of Seattle University School of Law, Ernie utilized his skills, expertise, and knowledge to assist our Safe Passage children through the long and difficult immigration process.
Ernie attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington for his undergraduate studies. He was a double major in biology and history. Before attending law school Ernie was a paralegal for Make the Road by Walking and the Urban Justice Center for roughly 6 years where he provided representation to clients in Public Benefits, Housing, and Healthcare Law. He later attended the Seattle University School of Law and graduated in 2013. During law school, Ernie was a member of the immigration clinic. He also had the opportunity to receive internships in Nicaragua and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Upon graduating from Seattle University School of Law, Ernie was admitted to the New York bar and became a Staff Attorney at MFY Legal Services. He created and developed the immigration pilot project for family-based immigration representing Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases and DACA/DAPA cases at MFY. He also helped to establish a partnership between MFY and Safe Passage project.
Ernie was introduced to Safe Passage when he met Claire (one of our amazing staff attorneys!) at a PLI training in late 2014 and he has been assisting Safe Passage ever since! He is currently representing one of our young clients in a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status case and he also assists Safe Passage at our weekly screenings at the Immigration Court. He believes that people with a professional degree should assist people in the justice system when they cannot do so themselves. He mentioned that he enjoys being able to help provide a pathway to residency and a new opportunity to our Safe Passage children.
On top of all the work that Ernie already does, he is also a cook and hiker! He also enjoys working out. These are not only his hobbies, but also a channel where he can relieve stress and provide a balance between his personal life and the depressing stories he hears from our Safe Passage children and other clients he encounters.