Alma became a co-founder of Colectiva Legal del Pueblo (CLP) after bearing witness to the power of community organizing. Alma worked together with the hunger strikers at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in 2014 providing support to legal cases. Her position is the Director of Operations and Legal Advocacy within the collective, spearheading administrative duties, and providing assistance to clients and CLP attorneys in various stages of immigration relief. Alma also works to engage and educate families and individuals in the community on their rights despite their immigration status.
Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Alma migrated to the United States from Mexico in 1998, with her three small children, seeking a better life for herself and her family. Before becoming involved in the migrant justice movement and the co-founder of Colectiva, Alma supported her family while working two, sometimes, three jobs as a waitress and hotel worker.
Alma was propelled into a leadership role with an immigrant rights organization in Seattle, Washington, after her partner of six years was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the NWDC. Following her passion to assist other families in the same horrible situation, Alma has dedicated herself to the movement, providing support to numerous individuals and families subjected to the immigration detention system.
Rita has always been a passionate advocate for justice and protecting the rights of others. She was born in Managua, Nicaragua to parents who both fought against the Somoza Dictatorship during the Nicaraguan Revolution. She was then raised in Honduras until she was brought to the United States as a child. Later she graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH with two degrees, one in Political Science and the other in International Studies.
At the beginning of 2006, Rita began working on immigration issues and was the program coordinator for Detention Watch Network under the then Executive Director, Andrea Black. While part of Detention Watch Network, Rita spearheaded the first national project dedicated to tracking the immigration raids led by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and other enforcement strategies employed by the agency. This project titled, “Tracking ICE’s Enforcement Agenda” was submitted as part of the briefing materials to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants in 2007 as part of the Detention and Deportation Working Group.
In law school, Rita became a member of the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, part of the Washington School of Law from American University in Washington D.C. As a member of UNROW, Rita advocated in Federal Court against Michael Townley, a notorious torturer and assassin under the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile; and defended the rights of derivative U.S. citizens against unlawful discrimination and deportation by immigration officials in Federal and Immigration Court. While in law school, Rita also clerked at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, and at Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition in Washington D.C. where she coordinated meetings and materials for the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights for their visit to U.S. immigration detention facilities.
After law school, Rita dedicated herself to advocating strongly for her clients in immigration court or in front of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. She began practicing in New York, NY and later moved to Seattle, WA in 2013 to start her own firm until she met Guadalupe Cavazos at a free legal clinic hosted by the Mexican Embassy where they had both volunteered. Since then, Rita and Guadalupe have worked together bringing the same passion to their work and launching a firm together that encompasses their vision of creating a law firm that fights fiercely for their clients’ interests while advocating for positive change within the judicial system for the larger community.
Alonso joined Colectiva in October 2017 as an immigration attorney after graduating from Seattle University School of Law. During Law School, Alonso clerked with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit where he worked on affirmative civil rights lawsuits on behalf of the state. Prior to that, Alonso served as the Equal Justice Works Americorps JD Legal Intern with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), where he focused on asylum work involving unaccompanied migrant children.
Born in Tepehuanes, Durango, Mexico, Alonso migrated to the United States with his parents when he was only 4-weeks-old. He was raised in Sparks, NV and attended the University of Nevada, Reno where he earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice. Alonso is committed to helping undocumented immigrants through legal advocacy and community empowerment.
In his free time, Alonso enjoys traveling, cooking, sports, and spending time outdoors with his wife and dogs.
Juju joined the Colectiva team in fall of 2017. During law school, she worked as a legal intern in the Incarcerated Parents Advocacy Clinic as well as the Youth Advocacy Clinic, where she represented incarcerated parents and youth navigating the dependency, immigration, and criminal justice systems. She earned her Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law, where she was nominated for and awarded Outstanding Student of the Year by the Clinical Legal Education Association.
Juju grew up in the Middle East, living between Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. She moved to the United States after high school to pursue an education, focusing on international development and sociology. She spent her senior year living and working in Morocco, where she was immersed in community organizing and advocating for out-of-school youth.
She is committed to transformative and restorative justice; outside of Colectiva, Juju works with youth in juvenile detention and in domestic violence shelters on storytelling and poetry as tools for healing and processing trauma. She also chairs the Racial Equity and Inclusion committee as part of the Board of Directors of the King County Dispute Resolution Center.
In her free time, Juju enjoys lounging, yoga, stand-up comedy, and taking leisurely strolls around town.
Sandy is an immigration attorney and co-founder of Colectiva Legal del Pueblo. She represents individuals in various stages of the immigration process including family-based petitions, deportation defense, naturalization and non-immigrant visas. Sandy is committed to working with immigrant populations individually and collectively, in a capacity that empowers and informs them of their rights.
Before becoming an attorney, Sandy focused on grassroots campaigns and organizing with migrant communities for education, immigration and worker’s rights.
Sandy grew up in Santa Ana, California and is the proud daughter of immigrant parents. She obtained a B.A. in Latin American Studies and a minor in History from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Sandy graduated from Seattle University School of Law. She is the first in her family to graduate college and obtain a professional degree.
Leo Carmona joined Colectiva in Fall 2017 as a Legal Advocate. Born and raised in Sola de Vega, Oaxaca, Mexico, Leo migrated at the age of 10 and has called Washington home ever since.
In 2016, he graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A in Psychology and a minor in Latin American & Caribbean Studies. Being an undocumented immigrant himself, he is committed to working with & for immigrants and communities of color through education, advocacy, and creating access in social services. His community organizing and activism experience began when he joined MEChA as a student at the UW. Aside from working at Colectiva, Leo is a community organizer with Fuerza Colectiva and collaborates with other organizations in social justice movements.
At Colectiva, Leo supports the attorneys with meeting with clients, filling out forms, translating, declarations, primarily with Asylum and U visa cases.
He enjoys running, outdoor activities, photography, and spending time with his family and friends.
Victoria joined Colectiva in September 2016 to focus on policy, advocacy and development. Victoria holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Evans School at the University of Washington. She coordinates community partnerships, participate in policy discussions and expand Colectiva’s overall capacity.
Victoria has nearly 10 years of valuable experience as a community organizer and social justice advocate in Florida, California and Washington, with a background in grassroots mobilization, deportation defense, immigration detention and privatization research.
For fun Victoria enjoys cooking, creating art, and is learning how to play guitar.
Karen has been part of Colectiva since its beginnings in 2012. She began as a volunteer and in January of 2018 she formally joined the staff. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Karen migrated to the US in 1997 in search of a better life. She worked in the food industry for the last 20 years and owned her own cleaning business for more than 10 years. Karen has always been committed to helping her community in a variety of ways. Aside from enjoying interacting with clients, Karen enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.
Paul Martinez joined Colectiva Legal de Pueblo in May 2014 at the Wenatchee office. Paula’s practice focuses on U visa, VAWA, and VAWA cancellation of removal cases, family-based immigration and deportation defense.
Before joining Colectiva, Paula worked as an Associate Attorney with Rios & Cruz P.S. in Seattle. Paula also previously worked in Central/Eastern Washington with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) organizing and conducting workshops and legal clinics regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
While in law school, Paula interned with the Immigration Center for Women and Children, where she worked on U visa and VAWA cases. Paula is licensed by the State Bar of Texas.