Sandra Dieudonne, an immigration attorney for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York-Haitian Response Initiative, has been named among the 50 most influential and thought-provoking women in New York who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in their field.
The award was presented by City and State, a publication devoted to reporting on New York politics, at its annual gala on March 28.
The award is well-deserved, noted Lauren Wyatt, Managing Attorney, who is Sandra’s supervisor.
“She is doing fantastic work with our Haitian response initiative,” said Lauren. Sandra represents Haitian refugees, many of whom would be endangered if they return to Haiti.
“They fear that if they return to Haiti they will be harmed, in many cases for their political opinions,” Lauren said. Sandra has successfully won cases for Haitian refugees, whose requests for political asylum were often denied by the immigration court system in the past.
Sandra was installed as the President-elect of the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York and in 2022 became a member of the Rutgers University African American Hall of Fame.
City and State noted that Sandra’s career in immigration law has its roots when, as a frightened 4-year-old, she heard a knock on the door. It was immigration officials canvassing the family’s apartment building for undocumented immigrants.
She studied immigration law, and began working at Catholic Charities’ New York’s Haitian Response Initiative, focusing on assisting Haitians facing deportation in Brooklyn.
Her growing up in the Haitian community as an impact on her work as an immigration lawyer, she told City and State.
“I see people coming across the border, trekking across 10 different countries on foot,” Dieudonne says. “When they hear someone speak in Creole to help assist them, it makes a world of difference – they feel a sense of kinship and understanding, which helps them navigate the complicated process in the United States.”