As CCIJ’s Communications Manager, Alex leads the organization’s communications strategy, including digital and social media, press outreach, and narrative work. Born in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, Alex has lived in various parts of the U.S. and Latin America, but has often returned to the Bay Area where he currently resides.
Alex has worked and volunteered with nonprofit and grassroots immigrant justice organizations since 2013. 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.
After studying history at American University, Alex spent several years writing, volunteering and organizing in Mexico, including at shelters for people forcibly displaced from their home countries migrating to the United States. Since then, 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 as a volunteer with Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
His previous jobs include working as a coordinator with the CARA Pro Bono Project, which provides legal assistance to families detained by ICE in Dilley, Texas, as a legal assistant at the University of San Francisco School of Law’s Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, and as communications manager for Innovation Law Lab.
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.
Andrea was born in El Salvador and migrated to the U.S. with her mother as a child. She is a first-generation college student and the first in her family to attend graduate school. Raised by a single mother who always valued higher education, Andrea was always inspired to continue learning. Her current social justice work includes volunteering in San Quentin State Prison with Mt. Tamalpais College in prison education. Her graduate qualitative research focuses on prisoner reentry, prison rehabilitation, and correctional education. She is expected to finish her Master’s Program in Justice Studies at San Jose State University in the Spring of 2023.
She received a fellowship with the Office of Immigrant Relations with Santa Clara County during the summer of 2022 which inspired her to pursue a long term career advocating for immigrant rights. As a first-generation immigrant, Andrea is very proud of her heritage and feels the responsibility to help her community. She will be pursuing a doctoral program with a professional law degree after finishing her Master’s. Her long-term goal is to teach underrepresented college students and practice public interest law/pro bono work to help formerly incarcerated populations and other marginalized communities. Andrea is very excited to be part of the CCIJ team and is committed to social justice and continuing to give back to her community long term.
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.
Outgoing Executive Director
BIANCA SIERRA WOLFF
Bianca joined CCIJ in early 2020, bringing close to 20 years senior management experience in nonprofit, philanthropic, and for-profit settings. As Executive Director, she is responsible for the overall health, strategic priorities, and direction of the organization, including successfully transitioning CCIJ from a fiscally sponsored project to an independent 501c3 nonprofit. Bianca will be stepping down as CCIJ’s Executive Director to pursue a new opportunity at the end of June 2023.
Prior to joining CCIJ, Bianca served as both Deputy Director of California ChangeLawyers and CEO of ChangeLawyers for-profit subsidiary, Cal Bar Affinity, from 2016 to 2020. From 2008 to 2016, Bianca was the Executive Director of Oakland’s Centro Legal de la Raza.
Her passion for social justice comes from her own experiences as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. The first in her family to graduate from law school, Bianca holds a law degree from Stanford Law School and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She is licensed to practice law in California and New York. Bianca currently lives in the East Bay with her partner and two children.
Community Engagement Director and Incoming Co-Executive Director
Edwin leads CCIJ’s 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
As Student Outreach Coordinator and Intake Specialist, Elaina leads the development and management of a network of student volunteers for CCIJ’s legal clinics for immigrants in detention.
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.
Valerie Zukin Memorial Fellow
As a 2023 Valerie Zukin Memorial Fellow, Katherine Tello will spend 10 weeks this summer immersed in removal defense at CCIJ. Katherine is a first-generation daughter of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. Her parents’ strength, resiliency, and desire to dream led her to a Bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Cruz, a Master’s in international relations, and now she is pursuing a law degree at California Western School of Law in San Diego.
Prior to law school, Katherine interned and worked for organizations like the Dolores Huerta Foundation, United Farm Workers Foundation, and ACLU. She also held a legal fellowship with the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC), where she served 10 rural communities in Fresno, Kern, and Kings counties with information and application assistance for benefits such as naturalization, DACA, and AB 60 driver licenses.
Her work in California’s Central Valley – home to agriculture, oil, and prison industries – also opened her eyes. These industries extract billions of dollars on the backs of immigrant working families, but fail to reinvest in the communities that keep them running. Katherine’s life experience has ignited a desire to help communities facing structural inequalities that reflect her home, family, and community.
Katie leads emergency legal services ("rapid response") and legal clinics for CCIJ. She provides pro se legal assistance to unrepresented detained individuals, helps match people with pro bono attorneys, and advocates for vulnerable individuals to be appointed counsel. She also represents detained and formerly-detained community members in removal and bond proceedings and manages the Attorney of the Day Program for detained dockets at the San Francisco Immigration Court. 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. She holds a B.A. from Tufts University.
Katie is inspired daily by detained and formerly-detained leaders and her clients, colleagues, and mentors to use her privilege to fight for the liberation of immigrants in detention.
LAURA DUARTE BATEMAN
Laura leads CCIJ's communication strategies for social and digital media, public campaigns and other liberation efforts. She grew up in Bogotá, Colombia and has lived in California since 2019. Prior to joining CCIJ Laura worked as the communications director for Cine Para Sanar, an impact film campaign based on the documentary When Guns Go Silent in towns that were deeply affected by the Colombian conflict.
Laura is also a community organizer and communications collaborator with several Colombian grassroots groups in California that support the undocumented Colombian migrant community and raise awareness around social justice efforts in Colombia.
Laura is constantly looking for creative ways to engage people in social justice issues through communication tools. She is honored to work alongside detained and formerly detained folks, their families, organizers and legal service providers to fight immigrant detention in California through innovative campaigns and community actions.
Laura double majored in journalism and literature and is the cofounder of Say What?, an education company that believes in personalized learning. In her free time Laura posts videos on her TikTok and Instagram channels @laudeltragoamargo, where she talks about issues that are painful and uncomfortable to approach, but necessary to build healthier community relationships.
Legal Director and Incoming Co-Executive Director
As CCIJ's Legal Director, Lisa 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.
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