Join our webinar about the new immigration enforcement priorities, to learn messaging and framing to approach these priorities in an individual case, and learn some organizing and advocacy tips to elevate individual cases to members of congress and DHS Headquarters. Advocacy and public pressure to stop someone’s deportation is not a new strategy in the immigrant rights movement. During the Obama administration advocates and organizers experienced success when promoting an individual case publicly, and received many favorable decisions from DHS. The enforcement priorities and discretion memo from the Biden administration presents a new avenue to fight deportations and build our movement.
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Nithya Nathan-Pineau is a policy attorney & strategist based in Washington, D.C. She focuses on federal legislative advocacy at the ILRC. Her work is focused on policies combatting criminalization of immigrant communities. This includes developing and cultivating partnerships with community-based organizations and elected officials, and providing legal education and training.
Nithya brings nearly a decade of experience providing legal services to immigrants in Texas, Virginia, and Maryland. Prior to joining the ILRC, Nithya served as the Director of the Children’s Program at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. She also worked at the Tahirih Justice Center and the South Texas Pro Bono and Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR). Nithya focused on removal defense and humanitarian-based immigration relief including affirmative and defensive asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), DACA, and U and T visas.
Nithya obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Political Science from Tufts University and she earned her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Nithya is admitted to the bar in Texas and New Jersey. She is fluent in English and Spanish and conversational in Tamil.
Carolina is the Senior Texas Campaign Strategist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. In her role, she helps build organizing and advocacy capacity to fight back the criminalization, incarceration, and deportation of immigrant communities in Texas. Carolina has worked in immigrant justice for the last 12 years.
Previously, she led United We Dream's deportation defense program, which empowered communities to defend their rights, stop unjust deportations, and challenge ongoing collaboration between local police and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Carolina has led advocacy campaigns for more than 200 families facing deportation. Since 2015, she has anchored multiple local campaigns to end police-ICE contracts and to reduce over policing and discriminatory arrests across Texas.
Carolina has co-authored Deportation Defense: A Guide for Members of Congress and Other Elected Officials (2014) and Ending Local Collaboration with ICE (2015).
Carolina has a B.A. in Communications (2012) and a Master's in Public Administration (2019) from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is fluent in Spanish.
Lena Graber is a national expert on the role of local police in immigration enforcement and the use of ICE detainers. She has spent more than a decade supporting organizers and lawyers around the country to fight unfair and often illegal detention of immigrants, and to push for pro-immigrant local policies. Lena spearheads ILRC’s national work combatting immigration enforcement and providing comprehensive advocacy resources and trainings to the immigrant rights movement. In the last several years, Lena has written and consulted on local and state-wide sanctuary policies in dozens of states and trained hundreds of organizers and policymakers to better understand and dismantle the machinery of detention and deportation. Lena joined the ILRC in 2013, and she has co-authored several ILRC publications including Motions to Suppress: Protecting the Constitutional Rights of Immigrants in Removal Proceedings; FOIA Requests and Other Background Checks; DACA: The Essential Legal Guide; and Parole in Immigration Law.
Prior to the ILRC, Lena was a Soros Justice Fellow at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, where she supported campaigns against local law enforcement involvement in deportations and litigated ICE detainer issues in federal courts. She also worked at the National Immigration Forum doing federal advocacy on immigrant rights and border policy.
Lena graduated with honors from the George Washington University Law School, where she served on the journal for International Law in Domestic Courts. She earned her B.A. in history from Wesleyan University. Lena is a member of the California bar and she speaks Spanish.
Grisel Ruiz is a Supervising Attorney in San Francisco where she focuses on the intersection between immigration law and criminal law. This includes advising attorneys and advocates on the immigration consequences of criminal offenses, training on removal defense, and supporting local and statewide campaigns to push back on immigration enforcement. In addition to technical assistance, training, and campaign support in these areas, Grisel also helps lead the ILRC’s state legislative work. Grisel is currently the Board Chair for Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), a nonprofit that advocates for detained immigrants.
Prior to working with the ILRC, Grisel was a litigation associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and a Stimson Fellow housed at the UC Davis Law School Immigration Clinic and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. As a legal fellow, she co-founded “Know Your Rights” programs at local immigration detention centers, for which she received an award from Cosmo for Latinas.
Grisel is an immigrant herself and earned her law degree from the University of Chicago where she received the Tony Patiño Fellowship. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, where she dual majored in Political Science and Spanish Literature. Grisel is admitted to the bar in California is fluent in Spanish.