Meet Angelica Mercado ’21: Center for Social Justice Scholar
Each academic year, Seton Hall Law School School’s Center for Social Justice (CSJ) selects Student Scholars who seek careers in public interest. The Scholars are afforded opportunities to work with faculty members in areas of interest and career ambition.
Passions for service and social justice are what have brought Angelica Mercado ’21 to Seton Hall Law to pursue a career in service to her community. Coming from a family of public servants and being a native of Newark, Mercado has been actively engaged in the community since childhood through community service and volunteering. Although Mercado had pictured herself pursuing a political path, she eventually found her passion with helping individuals directly, and saw the legal profession as a way to effectively address many of the problems facing her community.
Mercado became involved early on with local advocacy and minimum wage campaigns, interning with labor unions and organizing grassroots efforts to educate low-wage workers. From there, she had the opportunity to work with a prominent, progressive New York public affairs firm on behalf of national labor clients, giving her the opportunity to work on projects like the “Fight for $15” minimum wage and “Ban the Box” campaigns. While at the firm, she was able to witness the success of the $15 minimum wage efforts in multiple cities on the West Coast, such as Los Angeles and Seattle, in Massachusetts for home-care workers, and in New York for fast-food workers.
Mercado has also worked with the National League of Cities, researching and compiling education resources for local municipal leaders on issues affecting their communities, including urban planning and infrastructure, public health with special attention to the opioid crisis, and educational inequity. Similarly, while at the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS), she provided support on national projects and to small, local nonprofits concerning prevalent issues in the Latino community, such as immigration advocacy, job access, health, housing, and legal issues.
This past summer, Mercado was awarded a Public Interest Law Fellowship to intern with Justice in Motion, a nonprofit that connects defenders throughout Central America and Mexico to advocates in the United States who are navigating the complexities of transnational litigation on behalf of migrant clients. She worked primarily on updating the organization’s publication, Challenges in Transnational Litigation Manual: Representing Absentee Migrant Workers in US Courts, and provided support on Legal Action projects, such as facilitation between defenders outside of the United States and attorneys in the US working on employment, civil rights, and immigration cases. Additionally, Mercado was able to provide support on a family unification project between Justice in Motion and the American Civil Liberties Union, using the defender network in Central America to locate parents who had been deported and separated from their children.
Mercado is currently in her second year of a dual degree program, where she is a candidate for a Juris Doctor and a Master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations. Next summer, she will be working with HIAS to assist refugees who are trying to rebuild their lives. She is the Vice-President and the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey Representative of the Latin American Law Students’ Association and sits on the Honor Council Executive Board. She is an active volunteer with NJ LEEP, where she mentors a Newark high school student throughout the year and helps the student prepare for the program’s Constitutional Law debates each semester. Additionally, she translates for Spanish-speaking clients at the Center for Social Justice.
Mercado’s experiences working with low-income and immigrant communities has driven her towards interests in immigration and international human rights issues. She looks forward to the clinical opportunities available through the CSJ and to involvement in immigrants’ rights projects.