Yiraldo Campos

Scarlet Service Stories: Yiraldo Campos

Yiraldo Campos, New York Legal Assistance Group’s LGBTQ Law Project

For the bulk of his childhood, Yiraldo Campos lived with the looming threat of deportation.

Once his mother’s documents of status expired when he was 16 years old, the Manville resident feared being forced to return to his native Costa Rica – a country he barely remembered – at any time.

Though he was granted a green card at 16 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in November, that fear still resonates with Campos, 21, as he assists immigrants in similar situations looking for guidance from the New York Legal Assistance Group. The Rutgers-New Brunswick senior spent his summer as a Scarlet Service intern in the Manhattan organization’s LGBTQ Law Project, working as an interpreter and paralegal with mostly queer and transgender Latino clients seeking name changes and/or asylum.

As someone who identifies as a gay, Latino immigrant, Campos said it has been an honor to serve this community – especially because he knows that for many being forced to return to their origin countries is a death sentence.

Yiraldo Campos
Yiraldo Campos interned in the New York Legal Assistance Group's LGBTQ Law Project through Rutgers Scarlet Service.
Rutgers University/John Munson

“It’s not, ‘How do you know you will be killed?’ ‘It’s when will you be killed?’ I am a voice providing hope from the idea of this continuous torture,” said Campos, an honors program student studying for a double major in communications and political science and a double minor in international and global studies and psychology. “These are mostly transgender women put into prostitution, selling drugs, raped. These are women that went through hell and survived, and they are just hoping to continue surviving. This is the work of providing them relief that they are home and finally safe.”

The Rutgers Scarlet Service internship is Campos’ first, and a valuable one that he said will help catapult him into a career that allows him elevate the lives of those most vulnerable to human rights violations. He hopes to work for the United Nations, either in the United States or abroad, conducting research or crafting policy that improves access to legal immigration and improves women’s and LGBTQ rights – especially in Central and South American countries.

“I wanted to expose myself to something outside of Rutgers,” he said. “I see this internship as something not just for myself but for something that makes me unique to stand out compared to my other honors colleagues and allows me to give back to my community. This will not just allow me to grow as an individual but as an individual with the skills and knowledge to solve the problems my community suffers from."

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