Legal Staff

Whitney Hampton, Families Together Director
Dallas, TX

Manoj Govindaiah, Director of Litigation
San Antonio, TX
Prior to becoming the Director of Litigation, Manoj was the Director of Legal Strategy and Training at RAICES, and prior to that was the Director of Family Detention Services where he oversaw RAICES’ work at Texas family detention centers. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2006. He has spent his career working at non-profit legal services agencies in immigration, civil rights, juvenile justice, and education. He is fluent in Spanish, and is admitted to the bars in Texas, Illinois, and Florida.

Mayra Jimenez, Vice President of Legal Services
San Antonio, TX
Mayra Jimenez is the Vice President of Legal Services and attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). She along with the Chief Legal Service officer oversee the Legal Department which includes affirmative, defensive and litigation work within Immigration Law. She was formerly the Children’s Program Director at RAICES for over five years, running the largest legal program by providing legal services to both detained and released unaccompanied children in various parts of Texas. She has represented children and adults before the Immigration Court, various local county courts, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). She attended Baylor University for her undergraduate studies where she received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Economics and International Business and went on to graduate from St. Mary’s University Law School. Prior to joining RAICES, Jimenez clerked at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid specializing in family and property law.

Alexandra Minnaar, Director of Community Immigration Services
Austin, TX
Alexandra Minnaar is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. Alexandra began working at RAICES in September 2008 with detained asylum seekers and unaccompanied children. In November 2013, Alexandra initiated the expansion of RAICES general immigration services at the Austin office. Prior to working at RAICES, Alexandra was a federal law clerk for the Honorable Judge Diana Saldana at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Laredo, Texas.

Brian Schaeffer, Pro Bono Legal Director
Houston, TX
Brian Schaeffer has practiced immigration law since 2007, with most of his time in the non-profit area with a focus on removal, asylum, and refugee issues. He is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He was previously the Assistant Director at Cabrini Center at Catholic Charities in Houston for one year and the Director of Legal Services at YMCA International Services for six years. He has successfully represented clients in multiple published decisions before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Brian received his J.D. from the University of Houston and his B.A. from Mississippi College.

Andrea Meza, Director of Family Detention Services
San Antonio, TX
Andrea is the director of RAICES’ legal services program at the Karnes family detention center in Karnes City, Texas. She began her work at Karnes as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, then served as the Albert M. Sacks Clinical Teaching and Advocacy Fellow at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program for the 2017 academic year before returning to RAICES. Andrea received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Managing Attorneys

Jennifer de Haro, Managing Attorney
Fort Worth, TX
Jennifer graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 2012, where she was a student attorney in the Immigration Clinic. As a student attorney, Jennifer worked with detained immigrants and victims of crime, which solidified her career choice to work with vulnerable immigrant populations. Before starting with RAICES in December of 2015, Jennifer practiced as an immigration attorney with Catholic Charities, focusing on relief for victims of crime, removal defense, and family-based petitions. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys attending live music events, traveling with her husband, and spending time with her dog, Murphy. She also volunteers her time with NEED YPO, where she coordinates various service and educational events regarding poverty in Fort Worth.

Carrie Chavez Thompson, Managing Attorney
Corpus Christi, TX
Carrie graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she was selected as a member of the Moot Court Honor Board, a fellow with the Ohio Innocence Project, and an associate member of the Immigration and Nationality Law Review and where she co-founded the Immigrant Community Legal Advocacy Project. She received her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, graduating with distinction. Before joining RAICES, Carrie practiced immigration law, both as a solo practitioner and as an associate attorney with an immigration focused law firm. From 2008 to 2016, Carrie was the Director of Immigration & Refugee Services with Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, Inc. where she supervised legal services and refugee resettlement work. In addition to her experience in immigration law, Carrie has served as a prosecuting attorney and judicial law clerk for the Southern District of Missouri. Carrie is licensed to practice law in the states of Texas and Missouri, and in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas.

Felix Villalobos, Managing Attorney
Dallas, TX
Felix Villalobos is the managing attorney of the RAICES Dallas offices and has been an immigration attorney since 2014. He has represented clients before various arms of the Department of Homeland Security, such as Immigration Court and USCIS. He always makes time to present in live events and via media on immigration law and policy, constitutional rights, and removal defense options. When he is not working or participating in various events related to work, he likes to spend time with family, volunteer at church, and relax by watching sports and trying new places to eat. Felix graduated from Skyline High school, Mountain View College, Brigham Young University (“BYU”), and South Texas College of Law, respectively. He has four children and a dog, which keep him active and sane.

Nathalie Guerrero, Managing Attorney
San Antonio, TX
Nathalie Guerrero received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin and earned her law degree from The University of Tulsa College of Law. She is licensed in Texas and Oklahoma.

Pablo Rodriguez, Director of Detained Unaccompanied Children Services
San Antonio, TX
Pablo Rodriguez started at RAICES as a law fellow in September 2013. He received his J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law. While in law school he participated in a project that assisted students and young adults apply for DACA when it was first announced. Additionally as a law student, he participated in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic where he represented his first client in immigration proceedings. He received his B.A. from the University of Texas. As an immigrant himself, he empathizes with every immigrants’ desire to pursue a better life.

Sarah Valdes, Director of Released Unaccompanied Children Services
Sarah Valdes is the Director of Released Unaccompanied Children Services at Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in the Austin office. She has worked for over 7 years representing unaccompanied children in removal proceedings, assisting them in obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile status and applying for asylum. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas and clerked for Family Violence Prevention Services and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. She received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. Apart from the day to day successes of her clients, other achievements such as attending a former client’s high school graduation and being re-tweeted by Lin Manuel Miranda bring her the most joy.

Tatiana Obando, Program Director of the RAICES Qualified Representative Program and Managing Attorney
Houston, TX
Tatiana Obando is the Program Director of the RAICES Qualified Representative Program and Managing Attorney of the RAICES Houston Office. She possess a law degree in Nicaragua, her country of origin, and has worked in numerous human rights agencies in Nicaragua, Ghana, Mexico and the United States. She has Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Human Rights Law from the University of Indiana. She has also a specialization on Public International law from The Hague Academy of International Law (International Court of Justice, The Hague, Netherlands), and International Human Rights from the University of Oxford (UK). She practices immigration law since 2007, focusing her activities in asylum law, competency hearings for the mentally impaired, and removal proceedings, especially for individuals with elevated criminal backgrounds. In Houston, she led the Legal Orientation Program for 4 years, serving the migrant population detained in 3 detention centers. In 2018, she led the RAICES’ project to initiate the offering of legal services to the migrant population in Houston and has managed the office since them. Currently she is a candidate for a Post-graduation Certification on Management for Non-Profit Organization from the University of Harvard.