Alma Acevedo is originally from Jalisco, Mexico, and was raised in Southwest Michigan. She completed her undergraduate degree at Western Michigan University. Prior to starting at MIRC, Alma worked as a lead case manager for unaccompanied children in short-term transitional foster care with Bethany Christian Services. She has a passion for working with migrant and immigrant children and families, having previously worked with Farmworker Legal Services, Telamon Corporation (Keeler Migrant Head Start), and Project NOMAD Migrant Education. She is fluent in Spanish.
Public Policy Coordinator + DOJ Accredited Representative (full)
Eva Alvarez is the Public Policy Coordinator for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and formerly a Department of Justice Accredited Representative representing clients before the Department of Homeland Security and Executive Office for Immigration Review. She focuses on advancing key local, state, and federal policy issues impacting immigrants, farmworkers, and immigrant workers.
She holds her Master's Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University (WMU) with a concentration in nonprofit management and leadership. She serves on the Kalamazoo County ID Advisory Board and has served as the Director of Advocacy and Legislative Affairs for the Graduate Student Association at WMU. She is the co-founder of Empowering Latina Leaders and Advocates for Success (ELLAS) - the first professional network in Southwest Michigan In 2018, she was awarded the Vision Award by the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan.
She has an interest in social and economic justice, especially in the area of worker and immigrant rights. Eva is fluent in Spanish.
Issamar Camacho-Almaraz is a legal assistant for the Unaccompanied Children Program in our Washtenaw office. She recently graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish. Throughout her undergraduate career, Issamar worked as a research assistant at the School of Social Work, and as a student researcher with the Department of Anthropology. Issamar grew up in Los Angeles, CA where she became involved in grassroots civil rights, and immigrant rights organizing gaining 10 years of community organizing experience. She is committed to advocating for immigrant rights and civil rights and continually challenges herself to develop more effective methods of advancing social equity and fairness. Issamar is fluent in Spanish.
Asha Burns is a legal assistant for the Unaccompanied Children Team in Grand Rapids, MI. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master of Social Work and a focus on Interpersonal Practice-Community and Social Systems. She also has a background in social justice and Spanish. Asha is passionate about advocating for racial equity, combating racial injustice and empowering Black and Brown communities. She focuses her scope on the legal system and aims to help marginalized folks navigate the complexities of it while also providing direct support. Her ultimate desires are to dismantle oppressive structures within the legal system that perpetuate racial inequities.
Tammi Cervantes is a legal assistant for the unaccompanied minors program out of the Ypsilanti office. She recently graduated from Michigan State University with her Bachelors in Political Science and minors in Chicano/ Latino studies and Women and Gender Studies. Tammi is a Detroit native but spent some time in Lansing where she worked as an intern at the governor's office prior to starting this role. Tammi is fluent in spanish.
Lizzette joined the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center in January 2020. She is a bilingual legal assistant working specifically with unaccompanied children in Long Term Foster Care. Lizzette is a California native, born and raised in Los Angeles, who’s parents immigrated from Mexico and El Salvador. She is dedicated to advocating for immigrant rights, and mental health. Lizzette worked many years providing interpretation services for the Latinx community in Michigan courts and it’s partnering agencies like the Children’s Assessment Center. She is state certified as a Judicial Interpreter for the Spanish language and recently became certified in Mental Health First Aid.
Ana Raquel Devereaux
Ana Raquel Devereaux has been an attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center since December of 2014. She began her work with MIRC representing unaccompanied children seeking asylum, SIJS, and T- visas. Ana Raquel has also represented victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Ana Raquel now supervises MIRC's unaccompanied children's team, which includes attorneys and non-attorneys accros MIRC's three offices representing children in federal foster care and released to sponsors. Ana Raquel is a fluent Spanish speaker and she attended Calvin College for her undergraduate degree in International Relations with a minor in Latin American Studies and received her J.D. from Wayne State University.
Molli is one of the Intake Coordinators for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. She has 20 years of experience as a bi-lingual advocate in Washtenaw County; working in the fields of domestic violence, sexual assault intervention/prevention and public health. Molli graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.A. in Social Science and Fine Art. She speaks fluent Spanish, loves to dance, take walks in nature, spend time with her family & friends, volunteer, and fight for social justice in our society.
Jennifer Gallardo joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in April 2019. Previously, she was a workers' rights attorney at Farmworker Legal Services. During law school, she served as a student attorney with the Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, and St Vincent Catholic Charities Immigration Law Clinic. Jennifer is a fluent Spanish speaker and graduated from Western Michigan University with a BA in Spanish and minor in Social Work and received her JD from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. She is based in MIRC's Grand Rapids office and works with unaccompanied children who are in removal proceedings.
Jonah works as one of the Intake Coordinators at MIRC. After he graduated from Harvard College in 2018 with an A.B. in Social Studies, Jonah spent a year in Madrid, Spain as Michael C. Rockefeller Fellow. Jonah is fluent in Spanish.
Anna joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center as a staff attorney in 2013 and currently serves on MIRC's farmworker and immigrant worker litigation team and advocacy team. She began her time at MIRC focused on impact litigation and policy advocacy for a broad range of immigrant rights issues, including federal litigation to ensure immigrant access to public benefits and programs. She has also representing clients in seeking U-visas, naturalization, asylum, and in removal proceedings after workplace raids. Anna graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and the University of California, Berkeley. She grew up in California where she worked at Head Start and for the USDA Agrability program, prior to law school. She is fluent in Spanish.
Scholars and Society Fellow
Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof is Professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Immigrant Justice Lab. Supported by a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, he is on leave from teaching to spend a year in residence at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. Jesse is a fluent Spanish speaker and the author of several books and articles on the history of Latin American immigration to the United States. He graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Social Studies and has a Ph.D. in Latin American History from Princeton University.
Polina Hristova is a Staff Attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, where she is a part of MIRC’s unaccompanied children’s team. Polina received her B.A. from University of Michigan, where she was a part of the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term anthropological study aimed at humanizing the migrant experience and raising awareness about the harsh reality of migrating north from Central America and Mexico. In May 2020, Polina received her J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law. During law school, Polina served as a student clinician for the Michigan State University Immigration Law Clinic, where she represented clients in a variety of immigration matters. Polina is originally from Sofia, Bulgaria and moved to Michigan with her family in 1998.
Melanie provides legal representation for clients in Metro Detroit and Washtenaw County. Melanie received her J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and spent a summer in London, England studying international law with the Georgetown University Law Center. At UDC, Melanie worked as a student attorney in the UDC Immigration and Human Rights Legal Clinic and represented detained women and children in Dilley, Texas with the AILA-CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. Before joining MIRC, Melanie worked as a judicial law clerk at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson, Michigan.
Stacy joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s Grand Rapids office in November 2020. She currently serves as a staff attorney on the unaccompanied children’s team. Prior to joining MIRC, Stacy worked as a Justice Catalyst fellow at Legal Aid Justice Center as a part of its Immigrant Advocacy Program in northern Virginia. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Teaching degrees from the University of Virginia and her J.D. from Georgetown Law, where she focused her studies on child welfare and education law. While in law school, she was also a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic, a 2018 Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellow, and a 2018 APABA Educational Fund (AEF) Fellow.
Jack is a legal assistant for our Unaccompanied Children's Program based in our Grand Rapids Office. He started with MIRC as an intern in January 2019 while in his undergraduate program at Western Michigan University, where he received his bachelor's degree in Spanish, with minors in Criminal Justice and Communications. Since then he has worked and volunteered in various capacities before settling into his current role in April 2020. Jack is fluent in Spanish.
Hannah Lehker coordinates administrative work across all MIRC offices. Hannah started at MIRC as an intern working with migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, before moving into a position as a Legal Assistant for the Unaccompanied Children's Program. These varied postions provided Hannah with insight into many aspects of work at MIRC, preparing her for her current role as a program-wide administrator. Hannah graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2017, with a degree in Spanish and Anthropology/Sociology. She spent six months studying in Valparaíso, Chile, and is fluent in Spanish.
Jaimie Lerner is a Staff Attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. Before joining MIRC, she served for two years as an Attorney Advisor at the Detroit Immigration Court and two years as a Judicial Law Clerk for the New York Immigration Court, part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. She received her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Cardozo) and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. During law school, Jaimie served as legal intern with the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice in Washington D.C., as well as a student clinician with the Immigration Justice Clinic and Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic for Cardozo in New York. As a law student, she was an Assistant Coach and prior competitor for the Cardozo Moot Court Team at the University of Oxford Media Law Competition in Oxford, England, examining international law and freedom of expression concerns.
Sokainah Mahmutovic is a member of the Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project team in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her focus is on immigration relief available to victims of domestic violence and crime. Sokainah graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in International Relations, concentrating on Middle Eastern Studies, and a minor in Political Science. She is a graduate from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she received her Juris Doctor degree. While attending law school, Sokainah interned for MIRC’s Grand Rapids office which allowed her to advance her knowledge and expand her interest in immigration law. She is a passionate world traveler and has a strong devotion to human rights and social justice. Sokainah is fluent in Arabic.
Diana is a Supervising Attorney with MIRC's Farmworker & Immigrant Worker Rights practice. She is a graduate of Fordham University (B.A. '04, J.D. '12). Diana's entire legal career has been dedicated to protecting and expanding the rights of immigrant workers. Diana first worked at a plaintiffs' side employment firm in New York handling class and collection actions across the country and in a variety of industries. She then worked at the Urban Justice Center's Community Development Project (now TakeRoot Justice) supporting New York City worker centers by representing their members with employment disputes and policy advocacy goals. Diana moved to Michigan in late 2016, and prior to joining MIRC, worked for Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan litigating on behalf of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the state of Michigan. In August 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed Diana to the newly created Food Security Council.
Kerry Martin joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in January 2020. He is based in MIRC’s Ypsilanti office and works primarily with Washtenaw County residents. Kerry has been involved in immigrant rights advocacy since 2014. He has interned for immigration organizations in Colorado, Vermont, New York, and here in Michigan, including MIRC, Farmworker Legal Services, the U-M Human Trafficking Clinic, and the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights. He has also interned at three public defender offices and is passionate about mitigating the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Kerry graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Vermont. He is fluent in Spanish.
Tania Morris Díaz
Tania is the Detroit Staff Attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s Washtenaw office. Tania received her B.A. in International Studies with a concentration in Latin American Studies at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. She pursued a master’s in Political and Social Sciences at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City and received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She worked as a student attorney for the Human Trafficking Clinic, was a Geneva Extern Fellow at International Services for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland and interned at the immigration law office of Michael Carlin in Ann Arbor. She also worked as an immigration attorney at Antone, Casagrande and Adwers, P.C. Tania focuses on representing low-income residents of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne County for humanitarian-based cases and removal defense, including bond and is a part of the Michigan Protecting Immigrant Families campaign. She is fluent in Spanish.
Marie Nelson specializes in representing immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence. Prior to joining MIRC, she was the senior attorney at Freedom House Detroit where she represented US asylum seekers. Marie also spent several years in private practice as an immigration lawyer with Antone, Casagrande & Adwers, P.C. Marie is a graduate of Harvard Law School and New York University. While in law school, she was a student attorney with the Harvard Immigration Project and the Predatory Lending Prevention Clinic, and a legal intern with the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the New York Attorney General's Consumer Fraud's Bureau.
Rebeca is a Supervising Attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s (MIRC) Washtenaw County office. She serves unaccompanied children who entered the United States and are detained in federal custody in facilities contracted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and are placed in removal/deportation proceedings. She has also represented individuals in the metro Detroit area on various immigration matters. In 2019, she was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Foreign Language Board of Review as the Limited English Proficiency Populations Advocate. Rebeca has played an integral role in creating the Immigrant Justice Lab, an interdisciplinary team-based approach that brings students together from different disciplines at the University of Michigan to assist in asylum cases. She also advocates for racial equity as a member of the Michigan Advocacy Program’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is committed to ensuring that all youth have access to higher education regardless of immigration status and helps lead the Michigan Coalition for Undocumented Student Success.
As a law student, she was the Executive Articles Editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law and Co-President of the Latino Law Students Association. She was also a Student-Attorney for the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic and the Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic. Prior to law school, Rebeca worked for United States Senator Michael Bennet and was the Communications Director for the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association in Washington, D.C. Rebeca is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Belinda Orozco is a Staff Attorney with Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s Grand Rapids office and is part of a team of attorneys that represent unaccompanied children. Belinda received her B.A. from the University of Texas-Pan Am and received her J.D. from Western Michigan Cooley Law School. During law school, she interned at the Access to Justice Clinic and volunteered at Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON). Shortly after graduating from law school, Belinda worked at Immigration Legal Services (ILS) of the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. Before moving to Michigan in 2013, Belinda was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and was a Spanish bilingual teacher.
Gonzalo Peralta joined the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center on February of 2020. Prior to starting at MIRC, he was an associate attorney for Audrey Allen Immigration Law, LLc practicing immigration law for eight years where he focused and specialized in removal defense. Gonzalo is a Penn State University and Rutgers Law School graduate. Originally from Argentina, Gonzalo is fluent in Spanish. He will be based in the Grand Rapids office focusing on workers’ rights.
Katrina Quillen (she/her/ella) joined MIRC's Unaccompanied Children's Team as a staff attorney in 2018. She represents children in removal proceedings and in their SIJS, asylum, or other cases. She is passionate about ensuring holistic representation and empowerment, from the immigration court, USCIS, or enforcing other rights of the children she works with. Originally from southern Indiana, Katrina is a graduate of the Homeland Security and Public Safety program at Vincennes University. She received her JD from Valparaiso University School of Law in 2015, and has been practicing immigration law in the nonprofit sector ever since. While in law school, Katrina was a student attorney in the Immigration Law Clinic, representing asylum seekers and unaccompanied children. Before joining MIRC, Katrina was a staff attorney in the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo offices of Justice for Our Neighbors West Michigan.
Laura Vargas Quintero
UC Program Coordinator
Laura R. Vargas Quintero started at MIRC as a volunteer, and then became a Legal Assistant before moving into her new position as the UC Program Coordinator, working specifically with unaccompanied children who are in removal proceedings at the MIRC Kalamazoo office. Laura is originally from Mexico where she studied at Universidad de Monterrey. She has a Degree in International Marketing and is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese. She is passionate about the well-being of children.
Susan E. Reed
Susan E. Reed is a Managing Attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. Susan is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and Marquette University. Susan has practiced immigration and immigrant rights law since 2003. Susan has also served as a staff attorney at Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan and as a regional attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors, the immigration legal services program of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Her particular interests include the intersection of family and immigration law, the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children, immigrant eligibility for public benefits and programs, and civil rights. In 2013, Susan was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Foreign Language Board of Review as the LEP Populations Advocate and served two terms. She also served as a committee member of the Court's Limited English Proficiency Implementation Advisory Committee. Susan is passionate about immigrant access to driver's licenses and identification and is the Michigan Department of State Liaison for the Michigan Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association. Susan is a proud member of the first class of W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellows.
Mercedes’s focus is primarily on legal representation for unaccompanied immigrant children who are in removal proceedings. She received her Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and an undergraduate degree in journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington. Mercedes has previously represented children and families in removal proceedings while a staff attorney at La Raza Community Resource Center in San Francisco, CA and at Catholic Charities San Francisco. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mercedes was a journalist. She is fluent in Spanish.
Ruby is a managing attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. He focuses primarily on humanitarian relief for victims of domestic violence/crime, as well as naturalization matters. He is also very familiar with the immigration consequences for criminal behavior, specifically Michigan offenses. Ruby graduated from Wayne State University Law School and the University of Michigan. Before joining MIRC, he worked for Lakeshore Legal Aid. During law school, Ruby was a student attorney with the school's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic. Prior to law school, Ruby served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA in Brooklyn, NY.
Jose joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in December 2010. As paralegal and intake coordinator located in Kalamazoo he provides case support to attorneys, conducts intakes, and is often the primary point of contact for clients seeking legal help and community resources. Originally from Mexico and the son of migrant farmworkers, he is grateful for the opportunity to serve migrant farmworkers and immigrant families. Prior to attending college he was a farmworker in Michigan and learned to value the important and hard work of agricultural farmworkers. He is passionate about farm workers’ employment rights and immigration law. Jose received his BA from Michigan State University in Human Resources and Society with a concentration in Chicano and Latin American Studies. He interned for the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, D.C. He’s an active learner and has volunteered his bilingual skills at various community organizations and schools.
Hector Rubio-Garcia is a bilingual Legal Assistant serving as a receptionist and first point-of-contact intake for our prospective clients in our Kalamazoo office. Hector comes from Chicago and has a background in social justice around police brutality, gentrification, and the Black Lives Matter movement. He is also a volunteer organizer for immigrant rights’ movement Movimiento Cosecha – a national immigrant-led movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Christine Sauvé, LMSW-Macro
Welcoming Michigan Director
Christine Sauvé joined MIRC in 2011 and is based in Detroit. As Welcoming Michigan Director, Christine leads MIRC’s statewide immigrant inclusion initiative. Through dialogue, shared meals, education, and training, Christine works to foster mutual respect and understanding among community members. Christine also supports and collaborates with Michigan's Welcoming Cities & Counties, helping local leaders implement more immigrant-friendly policies and practices. Christine is a multicultural community organizer dedicated to creating social change. In 2013 she was one of ten national leaders honored by The White House as a Champion of Change for her efforts to advance immigrant inclusion. Christine previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania and Senegal, and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. She is a graduate of the New Detroit Multicultural Leadership program, Detroit Equity Action Lab, Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange, and Detroit Revitalization Fellows. Christine received her MSW and undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. She is happy to call Detroit home and contribute to the creation of more welcoming communities across Michigan.
Mariana Santos is a legal assistant for the Unaccompanied Children Team in Grand Rapids. She recently graduated from Aquinas College with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a minor in legal studies. Mariana was born in the Grand Rapids, but was brought up in the Wyoming area. Mariana has always had a passion for immigrant rights and social justice issues. She has been dedicated to helping out the community by interning at Immigrant Connection at City Life Church in GR and served as a Diversity Assistant during her time at Aquinas. Her goal is to eventually become an immigration attorney herself.
Catherine focuses on immigration relief available to victims of domestic violence and crime. She graduated with a full scholarship from the University of Toledo College of Law and completed her undergraduate degree at Western Michigan University. She has 5 years experience as a paralegal and speaks English, Spanish and Korean. Before her legal career, she operated her own business in Chicago, Illinois and also worked for Samsung Electronics in Seoul, South Korea. She currently works in the Kalamazoo office and is available to assist with cases involving victims of crime and domestic violence. In her free time, she enjoys trail running and has completed several ultramarathons.