Staff Attorney, Immigration Practive
Leena Khandwala is excited to join BDS’s NYIFUP unit, and to be engaged in this cutting edge program to provide free, high quality legal representation for indigent immigrant clients who are detained and at risk of permanent exile from their families and communities.
Leena comes to BDS with a wide range of immigration experience. Prior to joining BDS, Leena was an associate with Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC, a boutique style immigration practice known for solving complex problems and taking on tough cases. She practiced in many areas of immigration law, including deportation defense, affirmative family-based petitions, applications for naturalization and asylum, self-petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, visas for victims of certain crimes, as well as employment based visas.
Prior to joining Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, Leena was a Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and the Civil Litigation Clinic at Seton Hall University School of Law. She worked on a variety of immigration and human rights cases, including asylum, Convention Against Torture claims, and visas for victims of trafficking and other serious crimes. She also engaged in advocacy around medical repatriations, or the practice by US hospitals to deport injured or sick immigrants to a different medical facility in their home country without their consent. In the Civil Litigation Clinic, she worked on cases involving consumer fraud, predatory and subprime lending, and mortgage foreclosure.
Upon graduating from law school, Leena received a prestigious fellowship from New Voices – a Ford-funded national leadership development program – to work at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. In this capacity, Leena helped to advance the development of asylum law in the U.S. by identifying and litigating several cases raising novel issues, including representing parents seeking to protect their daughter, a U.S. citizen, from genital cutting in their home country, in filing a successful petition for rehearing en banc before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and cases aimed at broadening the scope of protection for gender-based harms such as forced marriage and trafficking. She was also involved in advocacy around critiquing the REAL ID Act, and bringing attention to the ongoing killings of women and girls in Guatemala with the goal of addressing the root causes of refugee flows and pressuring the U.S. and Guatemalan governments to rectify the conditions that allow violence with impunity to continue.
Leena received her J.D., cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law in 2004. She was Associate Symposium Editor of the Urban Law Journal, a Stein Public Interest Scholar and a Crowley International Human Rights Scholar. Leena is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and has been admitted to the bar of the state of New York. She speaks Urdu, Hindi and Gujarati and is actively trying to learn Spanish.