At this critical time when hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets to affirm that Black Lives Matter, the right to join in any type of protest is critical to a functioning democracy. Whether you are calling out institutional racism, police brutality, or ICE, this webinar will provide special considerations for noncitizens thinking about participating in protests. In particular, we will provide information on best practices for noncitizen protesters, potential immigration consequences stemming from a criminal arrest or charges, and how immigrant rights work intersects with the Black Lives Matter movement.
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.
Luis Ojeda is a Central Valley Organizing & Program Associate at the ACLU of Northern California, where he organizes to build community power throughout the Central Valley. Luis focuses on connecting with volunteers to support the ACLU’s organizing and policy work. He is also passionate about developing leaders and ensuring that those who are most impacted are at the forefront.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Luis was a lead organizer at Californians for Justice where he worked to pilot an initiative to strengthen relationships between youth of color and adults at Fresno Unified School District. Luis has also worked as the statewide coordinator for the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance and helped start Fresno Immigrant Youth in Action, an immigrant youth-led community organization in Fresno. As a queer immigrant himself, Luis has focused on fighting for the full liberation of all people. Although originally from Colima, Mexico, Luis has made Fresno his adopted home and is committed to reshaping the Central Valley for the better.
Maria Romani is the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Attorney at the ACLU of California. Maria is based in Fresno and focuses on statewide policies impacting immigrants’ rights.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Maria was a staff attorney at the Brooklyn Defender Services through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, where she represented detained noncitizens in their removal proceedings. Maria also worked at Make the Road New York, where she helped build the immigration unit, advocated around immigration services fraud, and represented noncitizens in affirmative and removal proceedings. While in law school, Maria participated in NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, representing an unaccompanied minor and working alongside Domestic Workers United to enforce a newly passed workers’ rights law. Maria was born in Cusco, Peru, and grew up in Fresno.
Andrés has worked in immigrants’ rights and social justice for more than a decade. After about seven years as a community organizer in New York, Andrés went to law school so that, as an organizer and human rights lawyer, he could fight alongside individuals and families like his who struggle to access justice. During law school, Andrés led an effort to strengthen the representation of poor immigrants charged with crimes in Southern California by expanding immigration expertise in public defender offices. As recent immigrants from Argentina, Andrés and his family struggled to access effective, ethical lawyers to navigate a complex, punitive criminal-immigration legal system he has since worked to transform.
Kai Martin, Entrepreneurship Ambassador, Immigrants Rising
Kai is a native of the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. After immigrating to the United States, she began her U.S. educational journey in the New York City public school system. She completed her associate’s degree at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and later attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
While at John Jay, Kai faced the hardship of being undocumented as she struggled to pursue a degree while managing the cost of living. Armed with determination, she made the critical decision to work several jobs in order to continue her education. In 2018, Kai graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in law.
Presently, she attends George Washington University and is pursuing a master’s in public policy. After graduation, Kai hopes to work with state employment and education agencies to reform policies that restrict undocumented residents.
In her spare time, Kai finds joy in helping others and volunteering to give back as an alumni council member for TheDream.US and other organizations such as the Undocublack Network. Through the Entrepreneurship Fellowship, Kai looks forward to working with other fellows to provide undocumented entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow and reach their highest level of success.