Fellows in the News

Editor's Note: this content originally appeared on Equal Justice Works' website

Idalmis Vaquero, a 2020 Switzer Fellow, has received a 2021 Equal Justice Works Fellowship to defend the environmental and housing rights of Black and Latinx families impacted by industrial lead contamination in East and Southeast Los Angeles through litigation, land use advocacy, and community education.

Low-income Black and Latinx communities in East and Southeast Los Angeles are living with high levels of lead resulting from the industrial contamination of one of the last lead smelters on the West Coast. For over 30 years, the Exide battery recycling facility emitted over 7 million pounds of lead into the air, water, and soil of these communities. The continued exposure to this neurotoxin is causing irreversible damage to children’s development and cognition. This contamination has resulted in what will be the largest cleanup of its kind in California and one of the biggest in the country.

Idalmis will help address this environmental and racial injustice by advocating for the rapid and effective cleanup of contaminated homes and creating a litigation and policy strategy to ensure public health resources are provided to these impacted communities. Through Know Your Rights trainings, she will ensure residents are also provided the tools to advocate for local land-use policies that reduce their environmental burden and prioritize parks and other community resources.

"As someone who grew up less than two miles from the Exide facility, I went to law school to ensure my community has an attorney on their side fighting for their health, rights, and dignity," said Idalmis. 

Learn more about her Fellowship and Equal Justice Works here

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