San Antonio | Flores Office | Staff
Eric Balderas joined the RAICES team in March 2015 as the assistant to the Executive Director. Originally from Mexico, he grew up in San Antonio, TX and is committed to serving immigrants like himself in his home community.
Eric enjoys traveling and learning languages. He received his B.A. from Harvard College in 2014.
John Blatz graduated from the University of Kansas Law School. He worked at Casa Romero and Proyecto Libertad in the Valley, did a six month stint in Jubilee Partners in Georgia, two months at Proyecto Adelante in Dallas during the Sanctuary Movement days of the mid 1980s and ended up in San Antonio as the director of Christians for Peace in El Salvador.
He started at Refugee Aid Project, the predecessor of RAICES in 1990, and has been associated with the organization since then. He has worked with Central Americans and asylum seekers after meeting Archbishop Romero during a Maryknoll summer visit to El Salvador and Guatemala in 1979. Having been evangelized by Central Americans to look out for the needs of the community, he is passionate about RAICES because it is a very effective organization driven by the needs of immigrants.
John's hobbies include gardening and cooking. He is fluent in Spanish and French.
Neal Brubaker is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.
Mario Cantu is a Staff Attorney with RAICES.
Rosie is a receptionist with RAICES and has held similar positions with other agencies for the past 15 years. She is from San Antonio, TX and enjoys assisting others as part of her job. Her longest-serving position was for ten years with the offices of Joe L. Hernandez, Criminal Attorney.
In her spare time, Rosie loves spending time with her grandchildren.
Alex is a Texas native who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and is a graduate of St. Mary's University School of Law. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association and has represented immigrants before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and in the immigration courts.
As a result of growing up in the Rio Grande Valley as a child of immigrants, Alex has a unique perspective on the issues immigrants face. Alex is devoted to her work at RAICES because bringing and keeping families together is rewarding.
Alex's hobbies include cooking, kayaking, and live music shows. She is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Manoj graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law. He began his career at The Immigration Project in the St. Louis area where he primarily represented immigrants in family-based applications for immigration relief.
He later worked at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago where he represented detained children and non-detained immigrants in various immigration proceedings. Most recently he was a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Miami office where he litigated class action civil rights cases in federal court, and did policy and advocacy work.
He is excited to work at RAICES because Texas is a critical player in the immigration debate and RAICES is the perfect place to create high impact, meaningful change for all immigrants. Manoj is obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all things Joss Whedon. He is fluent in Spanish, and is admitted to the bar in Illinois and Florida.
Roberto Gradilla, a California native, joined
RAICES in 2014. Gradilla, who is a graduate of Harvard University and
the University of Wisconsin Law School, is committed to providing direct
legal services to under-served populations.
In his spare time, Roberto enjoys rooting for the Lakers and Dodgers.
Prior to joining RAICES in 2016, Guillermo worked as an associate attorney for a private law firm in San Antonio practicing civil litigation and real estate litigation and as an Associate Director for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
During his spare time, Guillermo enjoys spening time with his family. He and his wife, Erica, are active members of St. Luke Catholic Church.
Ilse Hernandez graduated from the University of Texas in San Antonio with a BA in Communications and a BA in Art. While at UTSA, Ilse became involved in the DREAMer movement. A DREAMer herself, Ilse was drawn to this work in an effort to help other like her achieve their educational goals, and help undocumented families acculturate without fear.
For fun, Ilse likes to spend her time painting, watching movies, and being all around awesome.
Karen Hernandez was raised in Texas and grew up aspiring to help others. As the daughter of two Mexican immigrants who moved to the US looking to better their lives and provide for their families back home, the stories of her parents’ struggles inspired her to help others in similar situations. She now works at RAICES as an administrative assistant hoping to make a difference in the immigrant community.
Karen loves dancing, spending time with her family and her water dog Oliver, and watching baseball.
Keishla was born and raised in Puerto Rico before she and her family moved to San Antonio in 2009. Keishla completed her bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages with a concentration in Japanese at UTSA. She had the opportunity to live in Japan for one year, completing a study abroad program prior to graduating. She then completed a paralegal studies program at UT Austin.
Keishla speaks English, Spanish, and Japanese. Her goal is to be able to travel to many countries and learn about various cultures. Her hobbies include reading and drawing and she also likes to see musicals, ballets, and Broadway shows.
Andrea Meza is an Equal Justice Works Fellow with RAICES.
Sara is originally from the City of Guatemala and graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a Bachelor's Degree of Applied Science concentrated in Business Administration. In 2007, Sara became an Accredited Representative by the Board of Immigration Appeals. She currently works with the Citizenship Integration Program. During the years that she has worked with RAICES, she has seen the agency evolve from serving a Latin American population to serving more diverse groups of people from around the globe with a wider range of services.
RAICES has given Sara the opportunity to learn about general immigration laws and serve the community by pursuing and providing clients with different forms of immigration relief.
In her spare time, Sara enjoys nature, dancing and learning to eat nutritional meals.
Starting in 2013, Monica worked as a legal assistant for the Lozano Law Firm where she serves as a Paralegal in hundreds of Family and Employment Base Cases, preparing immigration petitions and applications. Before this, Monica worked as a legal assistant with the Law Office of Christina Neville, as well as a radio broadcaster and sales specialist. Originally from Mexico, Monica graduated from the Hispanoamericana University in Monterrey with a degree in communication science and public relations.
Sara Ramey represents immigrants in their cases before USCIS, ICE, the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, including U-visa and VAWA cases for victims of crime in the U.S., asylum, withholding and Convention against Torture protection, parole/bond requests, consular processing and adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident (“green card”), requests for prosecutorial discretion, and Freedom of Information Act requests.
Sara previously worked with ProBAR, the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, where she represented detained asylum seekers from Somali, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Guinea. She also educated detained immigrants about the legal process and their legal rights as part of EOIR’s Legal Orientation Program and helped pro se asylum seekers fill out applications for relief from deportation, research human rights conditions in their countries of origin, and prepare for their Immigration Court hearings.
Sara is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Washington College of Law, where she participated in the Immigrant Justice Clinic, served on the board of the student-led Immigrants Rights Coalition, represented the university twice at the national Immigration Moot Court Competition in New York, and wrote for the Human Rights Brief. Sara speaks Spanish and French, loves art, food, dance, music and all things cultural, and is thankful to have the opportunity to work with the immigrant community in San Antonio.
He enjoys traveling, writing poetry, and reading.
San Antonio | Crestway Office | Staff
Ingrid Bergquist is a staff attorney working in the children's department at RAICES.
She attended Michigan State University where she obtained her undergraduate degrees in psychology and in journalism. While working toward her undergraduate degrees Ingrid became interested in the field of child development. After four years she moved to a small town in Vermont where she studied at Vermont Law School. While in law school she worked at the legal clinic; here she developed a passion for public interest work. During her last year in law school she spent six months in Chicago, IL as an intern with the Legal Assistance Foundation working with their Immigrant's Rights Department.
Ingrid is licensed to practice law in Illinois.
Nelly Castillo currently works for the Children's program as an accredited representative.
Nelly loves working with RAICES because they offer help and hope to people that come to the U.S to find a better life. She is proud of what RAICES does as a team to provide services to immigrants in need.
Yvette Changuin Humble is a supervising attorney for the Children's Program at RAICES. She attended St. Mary's University for her undergraduate studies, majoring in Political Science with a minor in English Communications, and graduated from St. Mary's University School of Law.
Before joining RAICES, Yvette worked at a local law firm assisting with DACA and Family based petitions. She also clerked for the Office of Legal Affairs at the University of Texas at El Paso focusing on special needs compliance.
Yvette's passion for Immigration Law has been rooted in her through her border town upbringing and professional experience. "I have come to realize how invaluable social justice truly is and how it remains part and parcel of every current political issue. American democracy proclaims that justice and freedom are rights inherent to all human beings, and yet these are considered a luxury for many who have not experienced it for themselves. It is my deepest desire and humble request to be able to protect those who are in search of a better life and effect social justice for all people, both native and foreign.
Yvette is a dedicated mother and wife. She enjoys running, hiking, and biking.
Angelica Coronado is a graduate of St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, TX. Angelica's interest in immigration law began when she interned at the DHS, Office of the Chief Counsel during law school.
Her passion for working at RAICES stems from her desire to use her skills to aid individuals in critical need. Angelica credits her faith and work as a student attorney in the Civil Justice clinical program of St. Mary's as the fire that lit this desire.
Angelica's hobbies include hiking and making sure her two dogs don't become any more spoiled than they already are.
Ofelia is happy to work with unaccompanied children through RAICES’ Children’s Program and feels that she has gained a greater understanding of the challenges undocumented immigrants face by working with them first-hand. When she is not working, Ofelia enjoys dancing, traveling, and frequenting art exhibits and music festivals.
Paulina Fernandez, a legal assistant, graduated from St. Mary's University in May 2012. Following her graduation, she spent the 2012-2013 school year teaching English in Madrid, Spain. Paulina's passion is working with people of different cultures; she enjoys learning about their way of life and especially their language.
For fun, Paulina likes to read books such as the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. She also likes to go shopping, traveling, and practice photography. She hopes to attend law school in the near future.
Rosalinda has been with RAICES since the opening of its Crestway office in late 2013.
Michelle Garza has worked at RAICES since 2010. As a staff attorney at RAICES, Michelle’s practice was divided between the Children’s Program and direct representation of unaccompanied minors, as well as some affirmative practice before the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services. She became Director of RAICES Children’s Program in December of 2012. Before joining RAICES, Michelle obtained her B.A from the University of Texas at Austin in Mexican American Studies with a focus on Public Policy, and received a J.D from St. Mary University School of Law in 2010. She is originally from the Rio Grande Valley and her interests include traveling and quoting La Bamba.
Daisy Hernandez graduated from the University of Texas San Antonio in 2012 with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Mexican American Studies. Shortly after graduating with her B.A., Daisy joined RAICES as a Legal Assistant and is now a BIA Accredited Representative. Initially, she worked in the Family Program and later transitioned to the Children’s program. As a dedicated advocate who is passionate about the work that she does and the vulnerable population she serves, Daisy has worked with people of different age groups, economic, and cultural backgrounds; providing them with necessary information, valuable education and legal services.
Daisy attributes her success and love for her community to the support and teachings of her family and mentors. Outside of RAICES, Daisy enjoys spending time with her familia, attending cultural events, dancing, learning French as a third language, and traveling! Daisy’s next objective is to attend law school.
Laura Hernandez is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.
Ryan Humble is a Staff Attorney at RAICES.
He attended Texas State University where he received a B.A. in International Studies - Latin American Studies and minored in Spanish. He received his J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law where he participated in the Immigration Clinic and TAJ at Rio Grande Legal Aid assisting immigrants to the U.S. and providing pro-bono legal services to Texas residents.
Prior to joining RAICES, Ryan was working in business law assisting Mexican companies coming to the U.S. However, he decided to pursue what he loved and that is serving and helping those who have made the journey to the U.S. to pursue a better life.
Ryan enjoys running, cooking, eating, and music and is a devoted husband and father.
Jimenez attended Baylor University for her undergraduate studies and
went on to graduate from St. Mary’s University Law School in
San Antonio, Texas. She was previously the Children’s Program
Director for RAICES and now serves as the managing attorney for the
North Flores Office.
Prior to joining RAICES, Mayra worked as a legal clerk at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. She also worked at the Bexar County Court House District Court Division, where she developed a liking for public interest law.
As a first generation immigrant, Mayra understands what it is like to be on the other side of the issue of immigration. “My own parents migrated from Mexico; this issue represents my own community, and so I am happy to be a voice for it.”
Mayra’s hobbies include running, traveling, watching movies, and spending time with her family.
Alejandra Lopez is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.
Amanda holds her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and later went on to St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, TX for her Juris Doctor. While attending the University of Texas, Amanda spent a semester studying and exploring the culture of Argentina.
Before joining RAICES, Amanda served as a law clerk for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Washington, D.C. working on policy and legal issues that affect the lives of the Latino community. Amanda was also a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at St. Mary's and increased her knowledge of immigration law while working as a law clerk for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Amanda's passion for advocacy and serving the under-served won her many acknowledgements, including the Marianist Green Award for Community Service and Cooperation, Henry B. Gonzalez Scholarship Award, Judge Andy Mireles Service Award, and Runner-Up in a national moot court competition.
Amanda enjoys running, yoga, movies, and spending time with family.
Raul Medina, a legal assistant, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2013. He has previous experience in a US congressional office, organizing for low-wage workers, working at a business law firm and teaching ESL students.
Raul's inspiration in immigration law comes from the fact that many of his family members, including his parents, are recent immigrants. He enjoys playing and watching futbol and basketball. He also enjoys reading. Raul hopes to attend law school in the near future.
Fatima Menendez is a Senior Staff Attorney who graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2013. She worked as a student attorney in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic where she helped create the DACA Project.
Fatima is the child of immigrant parents and understands the circumstances that lead people to pursue a better life in the United States. She brings this passion and understanding to her work with unaccompanied minors. Fatima believes strongly in her work, and in giving a voice to children who feel they don’t have one.
Fatima, a San Antonio native, enjoys any opportunity to travel outside of the city. When she’s not defending the rights of children, she’s working with her Shih Tzu, Cookie, as a therapy animal team, saving the world one stray dog at a time.
Miriam O'Brien is a Staff Attorney with RAICES.
Deyanira Perez-Toboso was born and raised in Cuba and moved to the United States in 2013. She graduated from University of Havana in 2008 and works as a legal assistant for RAICES in the Fee for Service Program.
As an immigrant herself, she enjoys helping other immigrants succeed in this country and working with RAICES is the ideal platform to accomplish this goal. She hopes to obtain a license to practice immigration law in Texas in favor of contributing even more in assistance to the immigrant community.
For fun, Deyanira enjoys a little bit of everything.
Nadia Perez is a legal assistant, Originally from Mexico. Her family migrated to the US pursuing a better future. As an immigrant, she struggled with similar situations her clients go through. She came to San Antonio in 1998 after she graduated from High School, looking for better opportunities. She went through the immigration process in 2002 and is now a US citizen. She graduated from UTSA in May 2014 with a Bachelor's in Business. At present time, her goal is to attend St. Mary's School of Law.
She is passionate about her job because she and her family, at one point in their lives, were part of the undocumented immigrant demographic. As a result, she can relate to how hard it is to reach your goals due to being undocumented. She enjoys helping people and feeling that she is making a difference in people's lives.
Her hobbies have changed throughout the years. At present time, she enjoys being with her loved ones as well as playing games with her niece and nephew while they still let her. She enjoys helping people, so she volunteers at a hospice.
One of her favorite mottos is: "I cannot change the world all at once, but little by little I can make a difference in someones life, even if it's just with a smile, with hope that later they will make a difference in someone else's life."
Ryan Reyna is an Attorney, Americorps Fellow with RAICES.
Pablo Rodriguez graduated from St. Mary's University School of Law in 2013. Pablo worked as a student attorney at St. Mary's Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and helped establish the DACA project.
As an immigrant himself, Pablo enjoys helping immigrants that want to pursue a better life in the United States of America. As a former CASA volunteer, Pablo has a passion for advocating on behalf of vulnerable youth.
Pablo's hobbies include eating Chipotle at every opportunity, playing soccer and spending time outside in the beautiful Lone Star State.
Prior to joining RAICES, Luz served as a student attorney at the St. Mary's Immigration Clinic, a legal clerk at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and worked with both unaccompanied immigrant children and their sponsors as the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) coordinator at the ABA Commission on Immigration's South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR).
Luz enjoys meeting people from other cultures, learning about their life stories and customs, and watching them thrive in the United States after overcoming difficult situations in their home country.
Luz's hobbies include walking her dogs, watching movies and reading historical novels.
Jonathan Ryan has served as the Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) since 2008. RAICES provides free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas. Previously, he worked as a staff attorney at American Gateways where he helped to establish the Legal Orientation Program for adults in DHS detention. Jonathan received his B.A. from Columbia College in New York and is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law.
Diana Stoeltje is an Accounting and HR Manager with RAICES.
Maribel Trillo is a legal assistant, pursuing a B.A.A.S in Criminology, who previously worked for an insurance defense firm before joining the RAICES team. She also has experience teaching young children at a childcare center.
As the daughter of immigrants and the first one of her family to be born in the U.S., she is ambitious about pursuing a career in immigration.
Maribel enjoys spending time with her family and enjoys reading. Her favorite book is “Like Water for Chocolate.”
Isabel Zepeda is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.
Corpus Christi Office | Staff
Trivial fact: Lilia took quite a long time to update her bio, not that interesting!
Just as she made a difference at the Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter, she is making a difference at RAICES through her passionate and engaging work. As a fluent Spanish and English speaker, she is able to reach out to a diverse group of immigrants that come to RAICES for assistance.
Marisa is a Staff Attorney at RAICES.
He later joined the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City as a Senior Program Associate in the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), supporting a network of organizations providing legal services to people in immigration detention. Most recently Justin was a supervising attorney at the Immigrant Children’s Assistance Project of the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) in Harlingen, Texas.
Justin rejoined RAICES in 2014 as part of the team developing RAICES's programs in Corpus Christi and the coastal bend area of Texas. When he is not working, you can find Justin at the Corpus Christ Bay, planning his ultimate showdown with the spotted sea trout.
Dallas/Ft. Worth Office | Staff
Andrea attended Baylor University for her undergraduate degree where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2005. She obtained her Doctor of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s School of Law in 2010. She became licensed to practice law in Texas in November of 2010.
Prior to joining RAICES, Andrea worked for five years at the St. Mary’s School of Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. She joined the clinic as a student in 2008, then became a teaching assistant in 2009. She then worked for three more years as a teaching fellow and supervising attorney. At the Immigration Clinic, her work focused on helping immigrant victims of crime facing deportation. After leaving the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, Andrea moved to Fort Worth where she opened her own private practice, Sauters-Aguilar Law. Here, she continued representing immigrants in family-based and victim-based petitions.
Andrea works to live. She loves spending time with her family, running, and cooking.
Since becoming licensed to practice law, Patricia has focused on immigration law, helping families navigate their journeys to Permanent Resident status and citizenship. She has represented thousands of clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and in the immigration courts. For Patricia, it is the clients who make the practice of law compelling; all clients have their own unique stories, and having a role in their journeys is uniquely rewarding.
In her spare time, Patricia enjoys playing tennis, reading, and wrangling her two miniature dachshunds.
In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, traveling, and spending time with her family and her dog.
Prior to law school, Esther worked as a 7th grade Reading and writing teacher in Phoenix, Arizona as a Teach For America corps member. As a teacher, Esther frequently worked with students and parents facing immigration-related issues. It was their struggles that encouraged Esther to go to law school.
Before working with RAICES, Esther worked for two years in Houston, Texas with Baker Botts L.L.P. as an Associate Attorney in their Global Projects: Real Estate section. During her time at the firm, she worked on several pro bono immigration cases and is now happy to be working full time where she is most passionate - in immigration law.
Alexa is an avid reader and traveler with a soft spot for Garcia Marquez, hostels, and community service.
Aleyda truly enjoys working with RAICES because she contributes to helping families from all over the world stay united, she is able to help children who have no one to stand up for them and she gets to be part of a team that works hard for children's rights.
Aleyda's enjoys Futbol Mexicano and is a huge fan of Los Rayados de Monterrey. She is eager to learn different languages and cultures from all over the world.
She likes to spend her free time enjoying nature going horseback-riding, as well as fishing.
Felix practices immigration law primarily, with some family law as required. He likes to focus on cases involving Removal defense. He is involved in local projects to spread information about rights and opportunities to the local communities and has spoken in public regarding such topics. To him, community involvement is essential.
In his spare time, Felix likes to find new adventures and experiences with his two sons, volunteer at his church, and learn new things.
Austin Office | Staff
While working as the Energy Policy Analyst for a Texas state legislator, Carlos obtained a Master of Laws degree from the University of Texas, with a concentration in energy and environmental law. Immigration law issues have, nonetheless, never been distant for him, both as the son of two proud Mexican immigrants and a man with dual-citizenship.
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.
Alexandra's father came to the United States as an immigrant, and she loves playing a part in keeping families together and helping clients as they journey towards the American dream. She also enjoys battling the Texas heat to make things grow in her garden.
She is a fluent Spanish speaker.
As the daughter of immigrants, Karla’s passion for immigration work is rooted in her understanding of the challenges immigrants face in this country. She is grateful to have the opportunity to assist individuals as they navigate the complexities of the US immigration system.
In her spare time, Karla enjoys being out in the sun (swimming, hiking, running, rock climbing) and spending time with her dogs.
Prior to beginning her fellowship at RAICES, Ashley provided counseling to sexual trauma survivors in Chicago hospitals, served as a legal advocate for immigrant women and girls at Tahirih Justice Center in Houston, and worked with unaccompanied immigrant children as a staff attorney at the ABA Commission on Immigration's South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR).
Ashley enjoys getting to know her young clients, the most impressive and resilient people in the world and watching them grow and succeed.