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Helen Jugovic Tarokic ’00
Fighting to educate and help those in need
Helen Tarokic ’00 discovered her passion as a paralegal in an immigration law firm. Although she studied psychology and international relations as a student, the pull of immigration law was too strong. She soon enrolled in Wake Forest University’s School of Law.
Tarokic currently specializes in trafficking law in North Carolina, a top-10 state for human trafficking cases. Regularly, vulnerable, marginalized survivors need legal intervention to stop the cycle of abuse they are in, regardless of whether they are immigrants or United States-born citizens. After much research on the topic, she learned that often the best strategy to help trafficking survivors is to procure T visas for her clients. In addition, she is making it her mission to share her knowledge and expertise about effective strategies with other attorneys. Tarokic splits her time between her law practice in North Carolina and the national immigration law conferences she leads.
An average day for Tarokic can be filled with harrowing details, and horrific accounts. When asked why Tarokic found herself particularly drawn to this type of law, she said: “I want to help bring people out of the shadows and get them some sort of justice.” According to Tarokic, this sometimes means the trafficker will go to prison. Sometimes it means her clients receive unpaid wages. Often, the best path is the T visa and green card, eventually leading to United States citizenship. “Legalizing immigration status can help lift depression, and helps a survivor recover faster from the severe trauma he or she experienced as a trafficking victim.”
In the end, Tarokic claims the goal is to save lives, and stop those that abuse and exploit. Just as important as this fight is to educate, so that the T visa option is well-understood and used accordingly to help those in need.