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.
Karen first began to organize and vocalize migrant rights issues as a high school student after her dad was deported and her aunt passed away, feeling frustrated by the enforcement her family and friends saw every day. But it was through the San Diego Dream Team– an undocumented and immigrant youth led team founded by undocumented and queer womxn-- that Karen was able to explore and fall in love with grassroots community organizing with and for migrant and mixed- status families like her own. Since then, Karen has expressed unending gratitude for the organizers who were able to teach, train, guide, and nurture her as an organizer, because knowing her organizing is a product of her entire community, and that it grows the more we build beloved community wherever we go, fulfills her in this career. She was able to work for organizations like the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Project YANO, the California Faculty Association, SEIU- UHW, and United We Dream before joining the Colectiva Legal.
Now living in Puyallup with her soulmate and a puppy on the way, she is ready and ecstatic to work with you in developing community leadership, sustaining healthy community organizing, and in empowering migrant survivors, so that we can be the generations that break the chains of ICE and of all forms of domination violence.
In her fun time, Karen enjoys being out in nature, watching Harry Potter, and playing the guitar. She thanks her ancestors who have passed, like her Tia Adela, for walking with her in this work.
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.
Originally from Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico, Yohan arrived to the United States in the year of 2007. In the year of 2013 he graduated from Highline High School with a full ride leadership scholarship to Trinity Lutheran College. In Spring of 2016 Yohan graduated college with double majors in Communications and Children, Youth & Family Studies, and double minors in Psychology and Biblical Studies.
As an immigrant himself, Yohan has experienced the hardships and joys of dealing with the immigration system and wants to provide clients with exceptional service so they know that they and their cases matter.
In his free time Yohan enjoys spending time with family and friends, singing, watching documentaries, as well as horror humor, and romantic movies.
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.
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.
Before coming to Colectiva, Sylvia worked as an immigration attorney for New York Legal Assistance Group, where she ran free legal clinics for immigrant patients of public hospitals. Most of her clients had experienced domestic violence and other crimes, torture, or severe medical issues. She represented individuals in U visas, family-based immigration, asylum, DACA, VAWA, and other relief, and engaged in extensive advocacy surrounding immigrant access to health care, housing, and other benefits.
Prior to that work she clerked at the New York Immigration Court through the Department of Justice Honors Program. She attended George Washington Law School in Washington, DC, and attended a summer program in International Human Rights and Refugee Law at the University of Oxford. As a law student she represented asylum seekers and victims of forced labor and human trafficking, and conducted policy advocacy on behalf of migrant farm workers.
She is thrilled to bring her passion for immigrant justice back to the Pacific Northwest. For fun she enjoys spending time in nature, gardening, and making art.
They graduated from CUNY School of Law in 2018 where they were a student attorney in the Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic and Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility Clinic (CLEAR). Through these clinics, Eliana worked on Federal litigation and removal defense specifically for clients targeted by the U.S. government for being Muslim or for being from countries with large Muslim populations.
Before Law School, Eliana worked as a community organizer around gentirfication, land and housing issues at the Tenants Union of Washington, and worked with a group of displaced tenants who are seniors and disabilities to successfully sue the City of Seattle and a large scale Seattle-based developer resulting in a 5.7 million dollar settlement to support community-land housing projects.
In addition, Eliana has been an activist, organizer and volunteer in a variety of other projects including Jewish Voice for Peace (Palestine Solidarity), Northwest Detention Center Resistance, and Black Lives Matter solidarity work. Eliana is a queer white Ashkenazi Jew.
Eliana loves to dance, sing (especially when no one’s expecting it), and make people laugh and they are thrilled and honored to be working with incredibly brave, strong and powerful clients that come through Colectiva’s doors.