Island public schools bring on immigration attorney

Lawyer Annelise Araujo will facilitate onboarding of new Brazilian teachers.

The Martha's Vineyard Public School District is hiring immigration attorney Annelise Araujo to help with faculty onboarding.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional School District has new legal help in immigration attorney Annelise Araujo, who will facilitate the induction of new Brazilian teachers into the Island education system.

Araujo previously supported the school district with a complimentary consultation when two new hires, Daniel Soares and Carlos Trindade, were brought on toward the end of 2022 to support the growing Brazilian Portuguese population at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Almost a quarter of students attending the high school speak Portuguese as their first language, and the school is looking for new and innovative ways to reinforce their support system for Brazilian Portuguese students.

English language learning director for Martha’s Vineyard schools Leah Palmer said at Wednesday’s All-Island School Committee meeting that both Soares and Trindade have been important additions to the high school, and there will likely be a need for more immigration support in the future. In the process of obtaining H-1B visas for the two teachers last year, school attorney Nancy Campany advised that it might behoove the committee to have an immigration attorney who could be used as a resource when needed. “I was very fortunate when we had all the Venezuelan migrants come to the Island to meet some of the most renowned and wonderful immigration attorneys,” Palmer explained. She said the supervising attorney for the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts, Emily Leung, recommended Annelise Araujo, of Araujo and Fisher, LLC, to work with them.

“During [our initial] consultation, I definitely felt [Araujo] had us in mind, and she sent us her résumé along with a contract. We are asking for approval to have her as our immigration attorney when needed,” Palmer told the committee.

AISC member Alex Salop asked if the school has a budget to pay for this kind of legal support. Business administrator Mark Friedman said each local school committee has a legal line in their budget that has generally been used for personnel management and other contractual matters — “this would be something new for us,” Friedman said. “However, our consultation with Ms. Araujo lasted about 60 minutes, and in that time she clarified a number of important points which were fairly complex, that allowed us to get these new teachers on board.”

Araujo’s rate is $350 per hour, and $100 for paralegal assistance. As a procedural matter, committee chair Skipper Manter said he doesn’t think the group needs to officially approve the hiring. “I think the superintendent has the authority to hire professionals as he needs,” Manter said. 

Friedman said he thought this was a significant enough event that the committee would at least like to be kept apprised of the situation. Committee member Kimberly Kirk made a motion to approve Araujo as the school immigration attorney, to be hired as needed. 

Araujo is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and currently serves as events coordinator for AILA New England. She previously served as a member of the AILA Congressional Relations Committee, and is fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, and conversant in French.