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.

Johana De Leon is a Legal Assistant 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.

Roy Garza is a Media Director with RAICES.

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.

Guillermo Hernandez is a Texas native from the small rural town of Uvalde. He is a graduate of McMurry University and St. Mary's University School of Law. During law school, Guillermo interned as a law clerk with the Equal Justice Center in San Antonio helping clients recover unpaid wages, regardless of immigration status. He also interned for the United States District Court in San Antonio and the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals. Guillermo is the author of an article regarding the discoverability of immigration-related facts in civil litigation, which is published in The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice.

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.

Marco Luna is the RAICES Associate Media Director.
Carolina Mata is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.

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.

Anthony Polanco is a Panamanian American and graduate of University of Texas at Arlington. At a young age, his father was deported to Panama resulting in his passion to assist and advocate for immigrants. He has worked with both private law firms and non-profit organizations in Dallas, Texas, and New York City.

He enjoys traveling, writing poetry, and reading.

San Antonio | Crestway Office | Staff

Bianca Aguilera is a Legal Fellow with RAICES.

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 a member of the Children's Program and she has been with RAICES since 2013. Ofelia graduated from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2012, where she served as a Student Practitioner working with immigration and employment law. She also has a Master of Arts in Sociology from UC Santa Barbara where she worked as a TA and graduate advisor, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout her educational career Ofelia has earned countless awards for her work, including the AmeriCorps Education Award.

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.
Noah Feldman is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.

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.

Crystle Galdamez is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.

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.

Jacklyn Gurany is an Attorney, Americorps Fellow with RAICES.

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.

Mayra 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.

Luz Ruiz is the Pro Bono Coordinator at RAICES. She attended the University of Texas-Pan American for her undergraduate education and went on to graduate from St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas.

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

Rosa Flores comes from a family of immigrants and is a first generation college graduate. Rosa graduated from The University of the Incarnate Word with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 2014. While earning her degree, she served as an intern with the Southern District of Texas U.S. Probation Office and the Nueces County Juvenile Probation Department. She aspires to attend law school to help clients have a voice. Rosa enjoys playing soccer, and she and her husband are avid Latin dancers at venues around Corpus Christi.
Lilia joined RAICES the summer of 2010. Previously an ORR case worker for a shelter in Corpus Christi, TX, Lilia gained vast knowledge in assisting unaccompanied minors with their reunification process and with their legal case.  She enjoys her work with RAICES and hopes to be part of the organization for many years to come.

Trivial fact: Lilia took quite a long time to update her bio, not that interesting!
Maribel Gutierrez is a Legal Assistant with RAICES.
Prior to working with RAICES, Maria worked at Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter as a shift supervisor where she made a difference in many children’s lives.

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.

Justin Tullius graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 2007 after studying law in Austin and Mexico City at the Universidad Panamericana. After graduation, he was an employment attorney at the Equal Justice Center in Austin before returning to his home town of San Antonio as a staff attorney at RAICES from 2008 through 2011, where he represented asylum seekers and other clients in ICE detention and before USCIS, helped start RAICES’s children’s program, and developed immigration rights workshops in the community.

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.
Hannah is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. She was a post-graduate fellow at American Gateways in Austin, Texas, working with refugees and immigrant victims of crime, before joining RAICES' Corpus Christi office. Hannah has been working with immigrant communities since volunteering on an asylum case in college: after learning about the complex and difficult to navigate immigration system in the U. S., she has been committed to serving immigrants and is passionate about helping people through her work at RAICES (especially the kiddos!)

Dallas/Ft. Worth Office | Staff

Andrea Aguilar is Managing Attorney for the Dallas-Fort Worth offices. Before becoming an attorney, Andrea lived and worked in Honduras from 2005-2007 as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She worked with individuals living in poverty, trying to survive. The younger generation’s desire to go to the United States to build a better life was overwhelming. This is what inspired Andrea to explore immigration law.

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.
A native Texan, Patricia Barbee grew up in McAllen, just a few miles from the Mexican border. She majored in journalism at the University of Missouri, and earned her law degree at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.

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.
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 another non-profit organization, focusing on relief for victims of crime, removal defense, and family based petitions. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys cheering for the TCU Horned Frogs, traveling with her husband, and spending time with her dog, Murphy. She also volunteers her time with a young professional organization, where she coordinates various service and educational events regarding poverty in the community.
Melissa Grimaldo is a Staff Attorney who graduated from Austin College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and International Relations, then went on to Texas A&M University School of Law and graduated with her Juris Doctorate in 2014. She recently became licensed to practice law in November of 2014. While in college Melissa studied abroad for a semester at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. In law school, Melissa had the opportunity to apply her bilingual abilities while she worked as a student-attorney for the Texas A&M Law Clinic and translated for indigent Spanish-speaking clients. Melissa’s interest in immigration law stems from the personal fact that she is a first generation Peruvian-American, her family being originally from Lima, Peru. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, traveling, and spending time with her family and her dog.

Esther is a Staff Attorney and member of the Children’s Program. She has been with RAICES since 2014. Esther received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Latin American History from Brown University, her Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Arizona State University, and both her Juris Doctorate and Master of Laws degrees from Duke University School of Law.

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 graduated from American University in December of 2014 where she got her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies, a minor in Business Administration, and a Spanish Translation Certificate. She previously interned for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants with their Immigrant Children’s Legal Program. She is excited to be beginning her post collegiate life as a Legal Assistant with RAICES in the new Dallas office.

Alexa is an avid reader and traveler with a soft spot for Garcia Marquez, hostels, and community service.
Aleyda Salazar, who is a native-born Mexican, hopes to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice in the near future. When she first began working at RAICES, she specialized in Family Based Applications, but currently, she works with the Children’s Program.

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.
Esther Valenzuela is a legal assistant in the office of RAICES in Fort Worth, Tx. Esther earned her Paralegal certificate from Arlington Career Institute in Grand Prairie, Tx in 2002. She has many years of legal assistant experience in areas of Immigration, Workers Compensation, and Criminal Defense Law. Esther takes interest in Immigration as she was born to an immigrant father from Mexico who is now a naturalized citizen. She has a daughter and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Felix Villalobos is originally from Los Angeles, California, although he has lived in several states, and also Mexico. Felix majored in International Relations at the University of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and earned his law degree in South Texas College of Law, in Houston, Texas. He is a first generation son to parents from Mexico.

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

Carlos Castañeda is an attorney and justice AmeriCorps - Equal Justice Works fellow at RAICES. He is thankful to be at RAICES because of the excellent coworkers who surround him and because it has allowed him to fulfill his desire to continue working in immigration law, which began as a law student in the Immigration Clinic of the University of Texas at Austin.

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.

Rosario Dominguez is a Receptionist/Legal Assistant with RAICES.

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's 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.

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.
Jose Ramirez is a Staff Attorney with RAICES.

Brad Reynolds is a Legal Assistant/Americorp EJW with RAICES.

Sarah received her bachelor of arts from the University of Notre Dame. She subsequently graduated from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin. Sarah interned as a law clerk at the Family Violence Prevention Services, where she helped survivors of domestic violence. Sarah is passionate about her work at RAICES because she enjoys working with at-risk youth. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and can speak conversational French.
Karla M. Vargas is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and also holds a Master’s degree from UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. Prior to joining RAICES, Karla worked with various nonprofits providing legal representation to indigent individuals in a variety of civil legal matters, as well as advocating for indigent and immigrant communities through policy initiatives.

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.
Ariane Vokes is an Attorney, Americorps Fellow with RAICES.

Ashley attended Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate education, majoring in Spanish with a minor in Gender Studies, and went on to study law at Washington University in St. Louis, focusing on on international and public advocacy.

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.
Leslie Wise is a legal assistant in our Austin office.