As CCIJ’s Communications Manager, Alex leads the organization’s communications strategy, including digital and social media, press outreach, and narrative work.
Alex has worked and volunteered with nonprofit and grassroots immigrant justice and legal service organizations since 2013, including Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Innovation Law Lab, and the University of San Francisco School of Law's Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic.
Working alongside and in solidarity with people and movements in Mexico and the United States has deepened his commitment to abolishing immigration detention and border imperialism, fighting for collective liberation and building healthy communities. He has organized groups of immigration attorneys to provide legal support to people on migrant caravans, supported people organizing in U.S. immigration detention and participated in campaigns to end Tijuana police abuse against migrants.
Alex enjoys gardening, cooking, spending time outside, and learning about and foraging for mushrooms.
ANA LINARES MONTOYA
Ana is a first-generation, pre-law student at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing a Bachelor's in Political Science and a minor in Human Rights. She will be pursuing law school after graduating from UC Berkeley in the Spring of 2023, as she aspires to become an immigration attorney. As a Legal Assistant, Ana contributes to CCIJ’s legal services by creating accessible pro se packets for unrepresented individuals, advocating for abolition, providing administrative office assistance, and requesting medical information for immigrants in detention.
Prior to working for CCIJ, Ana interned for Open Immigration Legal Services and facilitated work permit applications, asylum brief drafts, legal document translations, and corroborated asylum claims. She also currently works at the Human Right Center at Berkeley Law as an administrative assistant and representative for Asociación ProBusqueda in El Salvador. Asociación ProBusqueda specializes in DNA reunification of families affected both directly and indirectly by the civil war. She facilitates meetings with the organization and adoptees, provides translation and interpretation services, and assists in campaigns and publishing reports. At the Center, she also supports the Health & Human Rights Program by assisting vulnerable communities impacted by trafficking through interpretation and translation services.
Ana was born and raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles, and speaks fluent Spanish. She attributes her drive and passion for immigrant justice to her parents’ story and perseverance as Salvadoran migrants. She is very proud of her Salvadoran heritage and aims to uplift folks from all communities. She is particularly passionate about serving immigrant communities and advocating for Central American representation in academia.
Development and Special Projects Manager
As Development and Special Projects Manager, April directly engages in and shares CCIJ’s powerful and innovative work with funders and individual supporters. In her multifaceted role, she helps create and deepen partnerships, facilitates medical education and empowerment, monitors carceral conditions, and coordinates support for people living and organizing in detention. During the pandemic, she managed the Vaccine Education & Empowerment in Detention (VEED) program connecting detained individuals with medically sound and accessible information on timely issues such as covid interventions and hunger striking safety, and advocating on state and local levels for improved access to appropriate medical attention in detention.
April’s previous work includes preparing people entering the US to seek immigration protection, fighting for their release from immigrant prisons through legal means and community organizing, and connecting them to post-release support. Before joining CCIJ, April managed an accompaniment program for migrants entering the US from Tijuana under the Huisha exemption to Title 42. As Immigration Justice Program Director at the National Lawyers Guild - SF Bay Area, she ran a collaborative immigration court watch program and facilitated a coalition of community and legal organizations to hold accountable the EOIR and SF Immigration Court. April wants to help transform US immigration from a punitive, dehumanizing machine into a genuinely welcoming system. She believes in the right to migrate and aims to support folks in their journeys toward liberation.
April holds a master’s in public policy from UCLA and a bachelor’s in biology and ethnomusicology from Tufts University. She is the progeny of immigrants and lives in the East Bay with her human and feline family.
Photo credit: BrookeAnderson @MovementPhotographer
Armida is a first-generation college student and first in her family to graduate from law school. She is a proud Mixteca from Oaxaca, Mexico. For the last 10 years, she has worked in various nonprofit organizations assisting low-income immigrant communities throughout the San Joaquin Central Valley. As a Department of Justice partially accredited representative, Armida has had the opportunity to assist hundreds of families to apply for various types of immigration relief.
As a child, Armida worked alongside her parents in the agricultural fields in the San Joaquin Central Valley. Although her parents never had the opportunity to attend school, they taught her the importance of a higher education to become a resource to her community. Armida graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Her interest in law arose through a volunteer internship opportunity at the California Rural Legal Assistance Fresno office. Since then, she has dedicated her professional career to assisting low income farm working immigrant families in various nonprofit organizations. Armida obtained her J.D. from San Joaquin College of Law in May of 2022 and is awaiting bar results. She is excited and feels honored to have been selected to be part of the important work of California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ).
Armida is proud of her indigenous and immigrant background. She finds inspiration and motivation in every client’s story to continue advocating for immigrant rights. She is passionate about serving immigrant communities and advocating for policy changes that will benefit future generations to come.
Edwin co-leads CCIJ and leads our statewide campaigns, participatory defense and rapid response that will help achieve our mission of ending immigration detention in California. Edwin also created and co-leads CCIJ's VEED program.
Prior to joining CCIJ, Edwin was Co-Director | Community-Legal Advocate with Pangea Legal Services in San Francisco focused on providing legal support on deportation defense cases and leading public campaigns for the release of immigrants in detention. While in San Francisco, Edwin held membership to the FREE SF Coalition supporting local and regional advocacy efforts with respect to the intersection of immigrant rights and criminal justice.
Edwin was formerly a Department of Justice Accredited Representative representing immigrants before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services while at La Raza Centro Legal, where he ultimately served as Development Director. Edwin holds a B.A. in International Studies from the University of San Francisco where he is now an Adjunct Faculty teaching “Advocacy Skills” to undergraduate and graduate students.
As the youngest son of immigrant parents from Morelos, Mexico, Edwin has dedicated his life inspiring social responsibility within communities. Edwin currently lives in Azusa, CA where he was born and raised.
Student Outreach Coordinator / Intake Specialist
ELAINA JUNG HEE VERMEULEN
Elaina is a student at UCLA School of Law, where she is specializing in the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy and the Critical Race Studies Program.
Prior to law school, Elaina was a Senior Paralegal on the Abolishing Immigration Detention team at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, CA. Elaina worked with detained and incarcerated immigrants in removal and custody proceedings before Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Courts. She also collaborated with organizers and advocacy groups to amplify the demands of incarcerated community members and fight for the abolition of prisons and deportation.
With the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, Elaina worked closely with transgender and nonbinary immigrants detained in Cibola, New Mexico, building out a national parole and bond sponsorship program. In late 2018, she accompanied the exodus of over 80 LGBTQ asylum seekers traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border and coordinated their safe passage to various Ports of Entry.
As an aspiring immigration attorney, Elaina believes that lawyering needs to be rooted in deference to impacted communities. She is committed to working alongside organizers to disrupt the systems that she will simultaneously be validating through the practice of immigration law.
Katie leads legal clinics and emergency legal services ("rapid response") for CCIJ. She provides pro se legal assistance to unrepresented detained individuals, helps match people with pro bono attorneys, and advocates for appointed counsel. Katie also represents detained and formerly-detained community members in removal and bond proceedings and supervises new attorneys through the California Immigration Legal Fellowship. In addition, Katie facilitates the sharing of best practices and strategy around detained immigration litigation and rapid response, and provides technical assistance and training.
Prior to joining CCIJ in 2018, Katie was a Staff Attorney and Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow at The Legal Aid Society in New York City. She attended NYU School of Law as a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar, where she participated in the Immigrant Rights Clinic for two years and was awarded the Eric Dean Bender Graduation Prize for Commitment to Public Service. Katie also completed immigration law internships at The Bronx Defenders, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and The Door. Before law school, Katie was an immigration paralegal for seven years, including four years at the firm Van Der Hout LLP. Katie holds a B.A. from Tufts University. She is a member of the Valerie Zukin Memorial Fellowship Committee, created to honor Katie's close friend and CCIJ's first Legal Director, Valerie Anne Zukin.
Co-Executive Director and Legal Director
Lisa co-leads CCIJ, and as our Legal Director she oversees CCIJ’s work creating and supporting strategies to fight for the liberation of immigrants in detention through direct representation, litigation and advocacy. Lisa comes to CCIJ from Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, CA where she oversaw emergency legal services for ACILEP, Alameda County’s rapid response network, and managed legal clinics at two California detention centers. Lisa was also one of the first attorneys to provide representation to individuals forced to await their asylum hearing in Mexico under Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, and has continued to organize regular workshops and remote pro se assistance for asylum seekers in Tijuana and Juarez.
Lisa is currently a board member of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area. Through the Guild, Lisa has helped develop Know Your Rights trainings and trained community advocates through the Immigration Court Observation Program. Previously, Lisa worked as a staff attorney and clinical instructor at the East Bay Community Law Center, and practiced immigration law at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale in San Francisco.
As a person of Black and Latinx descent, Lisa’s own lived experience has taught her that immigration is a racial justice issue. She is passionate about moving beyond a traditional service provision model, to work in partnership with detained people towards their individual and collective liberation
Mariel leads the organization’s legal assistance and advocacy at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, CA, working with individuals detained inside to offer legal and pro se assistance; connect them with outside representation and advocacy efforts; and strategize around litigation, organizing, and policy actions, including investigating potential suits under AB3228 to hold the private detention operator of the Imperial facility (and other detention facilities) accountable for human rights violations that occur within its walls.
Prior to joining CCIJ in June 2022, Mariel was a Co-Director and Immigration Attorney at Pangea Legal Services in San Francisco, CA, where she represented detained and non-detained immigrants in their removal proceedings. She attended NYU School of Law as a Latinx Rights Scholar, where she participated in the Immigrant Rights Clinic and Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic, and was awarded the Christian Jarecki ‘98 Memorial Prize for outstanding work and commitment in a law clinic. Mariel also completed legal internships at The Door, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Before law school, Mariel worked as a paralegal with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York. She holds B.A.s from Columbia University in Comparative Ethnic Studies and History.
Mariel is excited to be working directly with leaders in detention and taking their lead on demanding the things they need inside, the changes they wish to see, and ultimately freedom for themselves and all others in detention.
Legal Services Coordinator
As CCIJ’s Legal Services Coordinator, Pablo provides basic legal services to and helps find pro-bono representation for immigrants in detention. Pablo also manages CCIJ’s data, and develops tools to seamlessly integrate CCIJ data across web platforms and partner organizations.
Pablo has a background in biomedical sciences, and enjoys applying his technical skills to support the immigrant advocacy / prison abolition movement.
Pablo believes that intentional data collection and sharing practices across partner organizations will help us achieve our shared advocacy goals.
PRIYA ARVIND PATEL
Priya represents detained and incarcerated people before the Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Courts. She works closely with organizers and advocacy groups to uplift the demands of incarcerated people and push towards their ultimate goals of abolishing immigration detention and the prison to deportation pipeline. As a Supervising Attorney at CCIJ, she also collaborates with her coworkers, law students, and the community at large to further these goals.
Previously, Priya worked on the Abolishing Immigration Detention team at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, California; the Detained Adult Program at the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition in Washington, DC; and the Immigration Legal Program at Lutheran Social Services in New York, New York. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia and her law degree from Harvard Law School.
As a Senior Attorney with CCIJ, Sasha mentors new attorneys through the California Immigration Legal Fellowship and the ChangeLawyers Fellowship programs. She also supports CCIJ's legal clinics and advocacy efforts. Sasha is passionate about working with people impacted by both the immigration and criminal legal systems in the United States, and is honored to work alongside immigrant organizers in the fight for liberation and the ultimate abolition of immigration detention.
Prior to joining CCIJ, Sasha worked on complex deportation defense and post-conviction relief cases in both the private sector and non-profit settings. As a UC President’s Public Interest Fellow and Staff Attorney at Al Otro Lado, she represented detained asylum-seekers in immigration court, appeals, and federal litigation, and conducted legal clinics for the deported community in Tijuana, Mexico. In law school, Sasha co-founded the student organization "UCLA Law Students for Immigrant Justice," served as Student National Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild, and participated in numerous immigrants' rights legal clinics. With the UCLA Law Criminal Defense Clinic, Sasha worked on several successful pardon campaigns before the Governor of California, securing protection from deportation and a path to U.S. citizenship for people with criminal convictions.
Sasha holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, with a specialization in Public Interest Law and Policy. She is fluent in Spanish.
Susan leads CCIJ’s legal assistance and advocacy at FCI Dublin, a federal women’s prison 30 miles south of Oakland. They represent detained and incarcerated people before the Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Courts, and collaborate with organizers and advocacy groups to uplift the demands of incarcerated people and push towards prison abolition.
Prior to joining CCIJ, Susan worked as an immigration attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza, where they helped to build the Abolishing Immigration Detention team. During law school, Susan interned at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the East Bay Community Law Center, Legal Aid At Work’s National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights Program, and Pangea Legal Services, and helped launch Berkeley Law’s first immigration bond fund.
Prior to law school, Susan was a community organizer in Providence, Rhode Island, and worked on campaigns for immigrants’ rights, racial justice and police accountability, tenants’ rights, and education equity. They hold a Bachelor of Arts in History and Latin American Studies from Brown University, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley Law School.
CCIJ works closely with detained and formerly detained leaders at Yuba County Jail (Marysville, CA), Mesa Verde
Detention Facility (Bakersfield, CA), Golden State Annex (McFarland, CA), and Imperial Regional Detention Facility (Calexico, CA) to push for safer conditions while fighting for individual and collective liberation.
CCIJ partners with over 30 different organizations who help us perform community education, organizing, rapid response, and legal orientation and representation for immigrants and families impacted by detention and deportation.
OUR BOARD MEMBERS
Managing Partner at
Singh Ahluwalia Immigration Law Firm
Deepak brings extensive experience in removal defense litigation before the EOIR in both non-detained and detained settings across the U.S. to CCIJ
Equity, Access, and Inclusion Manager for the City of Sunnyvale
Fernanda is the Equity, Access, and Inclusion Manager for the City of Sunnyvale. Prior to working for the City, Fernanda served as Deputy Diversity Officer in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at San José State University. She worked at SJSU for over 20 years in various roles.
She has received numerous awards and recognitions from the California State Assembly and the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.
Fernanda currently serves on two different Boards of Directors: the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ) and SOMOS Mayfair.
She is a leader in the Colombian American Diaspora and part of a coalition that seeks citizenship for all residents in the City of San José.
Fernanda has a bachelor's in mathematics and a master's in public administration. She also studied law at the Universidad Externado de Colombia.
She has specialized management training in leading transformation and change through the Management Development Program (MDP) at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and is certified by the Intergroup Dialogue Institute at Cornell University.
She is a marathoner and a running coach.
Partner at Moya Law Firm
Mario is the owner of the Moya Law Firm in Oakland. He has more than 16 years of experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of civil disputes. Having grown up on the Texas/Mexico border, Mario is passionate about the fair, humane treatment of everyone who pursues the American Dream.
Co Executive Director
Leadership Learning Community
Nikki is the daughter of boat people refugees who instilled in her the importance of being in community. Nikki came to CCIJ because CCIJ does not just amplify the voices of immigrants and refugees, but is also led by immigrants and refugees who seek dignity and justice for their families and community.
Partner Law Office of Yesenia Santacruz