If Indiana Jones or Detective Columbo ever went into legal aid work, they would be Pedro Gaytan, a Paralegal in the Immigrant and Worker’s Rights Practice Group. As a paralegal, he is responsible for investigating cases by asking questions, gathering documents, and obtaining proof. His work requires some unique approaches – Pedro has had to rely on creativity and perseverance to get out of tight situations- and his success at protecting the rights of immigrants and migrant farmworkers in Illinois is due in no small part to his confidence.
“I end up in some weird places, sometimes dangerous places. I’ve learned to always have Plan A and Plan B. And we drive a lot. Sometimes we leave early and we go far south, we wait for the workers to finish work, we interview them, and then we drive back to Chicago. We don’t get home until midnight. Sometimes it happens that you end up in a twister.”
People at LAF devote their lives to equal justice, but Pedro can say that he has almost died for equal justice: “I was in the farms and I pulled over to look at my map, to try and find this farm. It was one of those sunny and hot, hot, hot days, but then suddenly it started getting darker and darker. Then a lot of wind, suddenly there was rain, and then everything started moving around. Everything went up. The car started moving. Then, after about 15 seconds, it stopped. It must have not touched down entirely.”
It’s only one incident in Pedro’s roster of adventures on behalf of legal aid, and it more than likely won’t be the last. He accepts it as part of his job description. For Pedro, seeing the people who abuse the hard work of others get their comeuppance makes it possible for him laugh at his close calls and keep returning to the fields.
Did he find the farm after his terrifying near-twister experience? “Oh yeah,” he shrugs nonchalantly, then chuckles. “Whatever it is possible to get, I will get it.”
Equal justice starts with you. Your contributions help Pedro and the entire Immigrant and Worker’s Rights Practice Group protect the lives and safety of exploited immigrants and migrant workers. Donate to support that work at www.lafchicago.org today.