Who We Are
RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) was founded and incorporated in 1986 under the name of the Refugee Aid Project. During this time, Central Americans flooded into Texas after fleeing the civil wars and social upheavals of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Several churches and religious orders answered the needs of the new arrivals by providing food, clothing, language classes, housing, medical and legal referrals. The agency provided a forum for San Antonians to meet the new arrivals and learn first hand about the situation in Central America.
RAICES’ first office opened in the Madison Square Presbyterian Church. After the Oblates of Mary Immaculate donated a building, the agency moved to its current location at 1305 North Flores. This building has also provided a home to other community-centered organizations such as the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Fuerza Unida, Latin American Solidarity, the Quakers, and a Spanish-speaking Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.
RAICES received funding for its first attorney in 1990, and the focus of the agency turned to assisting other vulnerable members of the immigrant community, including as asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, immigration detainees, and survivors of crime. The agency also assisted low-income immigrants in filing family-based petitions.
In 2008, RAICES enlarged its office in order to keep pace with its growing staff and programs. Located five minutes from the San Antonio Immigration Court and in the heart of the city’s historic Five Points neighborhood, RAICES continues to provide counsel and representation in a full range of defenses against deportation before the Immigration Court, as well as representation before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in family-based immigration cases, visas and other affirmative applications.
In its third decade, RAICES has a dedicated team of attorneys, accredited representatives, and legal assistants, in addition to volunteers, student interns and partnering pro bono attorneys.