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KCK immigration attorney starts social impact scholarships for young women in Central America

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-10 23:48:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — An immigration attorney in Kansas City, Kansas, is using her work to help others in Central America succeed by focusing on women and their education

In the heart of KCK, Abogado Denise Ramos is a law firm which focuses on immigration.

“80% of my cases are asylum defense cases and immigration law,” Genesis Mercado-Arias said.

Many from Central America sit across from Mercado-Arias looking for help.

“I’m usually the first attorney, the first person people speak with on how they want to apply for asylum,” she said. “The story I hear mostly is the opportunity — there’s no opportunity, no jobs. What made me pursue this was my work in immigration law and it came full circle.”

She’s reminded at her desk each day with a Salvadorian flag.

Twenty-four hundred miles away, her family immigrated from San Miguel, El Salvador, in the 1980s.

“A lot of the people my age are still super passionate about being able to give back and contribute to what our parents couldn’t do,” she said. “I wanted something to honor the women in my family because they taught me my principles."

The Ella Initiative out of Kansas City hopes to do just that.

“Ella means her/she, so when I thought about people I looked up to, my mom, my nana, ellas,” she said. “My family has a lot of strong women in my family. I thought of how can I honor them.”

Mercado-Arias said education has centered her family. Her social impact organization will provide $1,000 scholarships to young women in El Salvador.

“Right at 15, you’re not required to go to school anymore, so a lot of the times it’s not advocated for,” she said. “These will probably go towards a need for food that week, pencils, shoes, clothing supplies, anything to ease that burden in going to school.”

Mercado-Arias knows that education provides access and options.

“Education was always advocated for by my mom and my nana and that’s something I took with great importance," she said. "And to be able to provide that to someone else is important."

Mercado-Arias said the first few $1,000 donations will be known as founding members.