Muneer Ahmad, Clinical Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Muneer Ahmad is a Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he co-teaches in the Transnational Development Clinic and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC). In WIRAC, he and his students represent individuals, groups and organizations in both litigation and non-litigation matters related to immigration, immigrants’ rights, and labor, and intersections among them. He has represented immigrants in a range of labor, immigration, and trafficking cases, and for three years represented a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay; he has written on these and related topics. In the Transnational Development Clinic, Professor Ahmad and his students work on projects designed to identify productive sites for intervention for U.S.-based lawyers in global poverty work. This has included work regarding the rights of street vendors in India, the barriers faced by immigrant communities in sending remittances to their home countries, access to essential medicines, institutional accountability among international financial institutions, and advocacy on behalf of workers displaced by changes in trade policy. His scholarship examines the intersections of immigration, race, and citizenship in both legal theory and legal practice. Previously, he was Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. Prior to joining the faculty at American in 2001, he was a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles. He clerked for the Hon. William K. Sessions III in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.
Jessica Alcantara, Skadden Fellow Staff Attorney, Advancement Project
Jessica Alcantara joined Advancement Project in 2016 as a Skadden Fellow Staff Attorney in the Quality Education program and the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track program. Jessica supports black and Latino communities facing school closures, with the goal of increasing black and Latino students’ access to quality, sustainable community schools. Jessica is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where she earned a B.A. in Geography and Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies, as well as a minor in Spanish Language and Literature. Following her time at Dartmouth she joined the Peace Corps, serving for two years as a Youth Development Volunteer in Azerbaijan. Jessica attended Columbia Law School, where she served as the Submissions Editor of the Columbia Journal of Race and Law. While at Columbia, Jessica also served as Admissions Chair of both the Black Law Students Association and the Latino Law Students Association, and was also involved with the Student Public Interest Network. She is an alumna of the Prep for Prep program in New York City, where she has also taught. Prior to law school, she earned a M.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies at Fordham University.
Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Juan Cartagena is President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a national civil rights public interest law organization that represents Latinas/os throughout the United States and works to increase their entry into the legal profession. He is a constitutional and civil rights attorney who has vast experience litigating cases on behalf of Latina/o and African American communities in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, language rights, access to public education for poor and language minority children, and housing. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School, Mr. Cartagena previously served as a municipal court judge in Hoboken, New Jersey, and as the General Counsel for the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.
Aixa Cintrón-Vélez, Program Director, Russell Sage Foundation
Aixa Cintrón-Vélez is Program Director at the Russell Sage Foundation. At RSF, she oversees the Future of Work program, concerned with examining the causes and consequences of the declining quality of jobs for less- and moderately-educated workers in the U.S. economy and the role that changes in employer practices, the labor market, and public policies play in the employment, earnings and wellbeing of American workers. She is also responsible for the scientific grant portfolio on Race, Ethnicity and Immigration, which addresses changes in U.S. society as a result of increasing diversity in the population. And she manages a new Foundation initiative on the Socioeconomic and Political Effects of the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. Before joining Russell Sage, she was a Research Associate at the Center for Hispanic Mental Health Research, and taught in the Graduate School of Social Service, at Fordham University. Prior to Fordham, she was a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she taught research methods and social policy. She has done research and written about urban and low-wage labor markets, and the family, employment and migration careers of Latinas in the United States. Earlier in her career, she directed a vocational counseling and training program for low-income women at Casa Central, a large Hispanic social services agency in Chicago’s North side. She was a NIPC Fellow in Intergovernmental Affairs at the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning. And she was Program Officer of Education and Economic Development at the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work (Social Policy) from the University of Michigan, an A.M. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico.
Amelie F. Constant, Visiting Research Scholar, Office of Population Research, Princeton University
Amelie F. Constant is Visiting Research Scholar at Princeton University and the Office of Population Research. She is the President of the Society of Government Economists, an affiliated scholar at UNU-MERIT, an academic member of ATINER, a member of the European Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Editorial Board of Applied Economics Quarterly. Previously, she was Director of the Migration Area at the Institute for the Study of Labor, the founding editor of the IZA Journal of Migration, and the founding director of DIWDC. Her research lies mainly in the economics of migration. She is the co-editor of the International Handbook of the Economics of Migration, Foundations of Migration Economics, How Labor Migrants Fare?, a volume of the Research in Labor Economics Journal, and special issues of the Journal of International Manpower. Constant received her Ph.D. in Labor Economics and Econometrics from Vanderbilt University.
Alina Das, Associate Professor of Clinical Law, New York University School of Law
Alina Das is an Associate Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law, where she co-teaches and co-directs the Immigrant Rights Clinic. She and her clinic students represent immigrants and community organizations in litigation and advocacy to advance immigrant rights locally and across the country. In addition to her teaching, Das engages in scholarship on deportation and detention issues, particularly at the intersection of immigration and criminal law. Das also serves as faculty director of the NYU Latino Rights Scholars Program. Prior to joining the Law School, Das was a Soros Justice Fellow and staff attorney with the Immigrant Defense Project, and clerked for Judge Kermit V. Lipez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Das graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in government from Harvard University, and graduated cum laude from NYU Law as a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar with a joint MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. Das is a recipient of the LexisNexis Matthew Bender Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law, the NYU Law Podell Distinguished Teaching Award, the NYU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty Award, and the NYU Center for Multicultural Education & Programs Nia Faculty Award.
Eduardo Díaz, Director, Smithsonian Latino Center
Eduardo Díaz is Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center and a 30-year veteran of arts administration. The Latino Center works to increase and enhance Latino presence, research and scholarship at the Smithsonian Institution by sponsoring, developing and promoting exhibitions, collections, research and public programs that focus on the Latino experience. Mr. Díaz is an advisor to the Smithsonian’s Secretary and Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture as well as to Congress and other government agencies on a range of cultural development issues related to Latino communities in the United States and their impact on diverse countries of origin. Mr. Díaz is responsible for the management and delivery of exhibitions, public and educational programs and the Latino Center’s Latino Virtual Museum. During his tenure, he has spearheaded several projects including the exhibitions Panamanian Passages, Southern Identity: Contemporary Argentine Art, and American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music. Current initiatives include Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed, the Caribbean Indigenous Legacies Project, the Latino DC History Project and Unruly Crossings. Previously, Mr. Díaz was the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M. He oversaw the operations of a 16-acre campus that offered year-round programming in the visual, performing and literary arts as well and youth and family activities. Before joining the NHCC, Mr. Díaz managed a private consulting firm that served arts institutions and agencies, statewide advocacy groups and community-based organizations. He has specialized in business and strategic planning, cultural facilities management and cultural and heritage tourism. In 2001, he co-founded the International Accordion Festival, a free outdoor music celebration, in San Antonio. From 1981 to 1999, Mr. Díaz served as the director of Cultural Affairs for the City of San Antonio. He is currently a member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. Mr. Díaz earned a law degree in 1976 from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in 1972 in Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
Amaya Garcia, Senior Researcher for Education Policy Program, New America
Amaya Garcia is a senior researcher with the Education Policy program at New America. A member of the Dual Language Learners National Work Group, she provides analysis on policies related to language learners. Previously, Garcia provided analysis on state-wide education policies and regulations, including accountability, attendance and truancy, family engagement, and standards implementation for the District of Columbia State Board of Education. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland-College Park, a master’s degree in cognitive studies in education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from the University of Iowa.
Ramona Hernandez, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, Professor of Sociology, The City College of New York
Dr. Ramona Hernández is director of the Dominican Studies Institute of The City University of New York (CUNY) housed at The City College of New York, and is Professor of Sociology at The City College and on the faculty of The Graduate Center, CUNY. Renowned sociologist and public intellectual in the United States, Dr. Hernández is author of pioneering texts in the areas of migration, labor, and Dominican studies, including The Dominican Americans (184 pages), co-authored with Silvio Torres-Saillant, and published by Greenwood Press in 1998; The Mobility of Workers Under Advanced Capitalism: Dominican Migration to the United States (227 pages), published by Columbia University Press in 2002 and awarded “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice in 2003; “Dominican Immigrants” in Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans (70 pages), co-authored with Anthony Stevens-Acevedo and published by Greenwood Press in 2011; and La República Dominicana y la prensa extranjera: mayo 1961-septiembre 1963 (Desde la desaparición de Trujillo hasta Juan Bosch) (459 pages), co-authored with Sully Saneaux and published by Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña in 2013. Dr. Hernández is a trustee of the Sociological Initiatives Foundation and her work is celebrated also in the Dominican Republic where she has received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Meritorious Order of Duarte, Sánchez y Mella, and serves as a trustee of the International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (Instituto Global de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Sociales). Dr. Hernández earned a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in Sociology from The Graduate Center, CUNY; an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University; and a B.A. in Latin American History from Lehman College.
Carmen Huertas-Noble, Founding Director of the Community & Economic Development Clinic, CUNY School of Law
Professor Huertas-Noble is the founding director of the Community & Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) at CUNY School of Law. She earned her J.D. from Fordham University Law School, where she was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics and served on the staff of the Environmental Law Journal. Prior to joining the CUNY faculty, Professor Huertas-Noble was an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School where she supervised students in its CED Clinic. She also served as a senior staff attorney in the Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center (UJC). As part of CDP, she worked with neighborhood residents to form nonprofits as well as established organizing groups to create alternative institutions, such as worker-owned cooperatives (cooperatives). Professor Huertas-Noble has played a leading role in providing transactional legal support to worker-owned cooperatives in New York. While at UJC, she counseled cooperatives in navigating their legal entity formation options and on creating democratic governance structures. She worked with ROC-NY in creating COLORS, a worker-owned restaurant in Manhattan and Green Workers Cooperatives in creating ReBuilders Source, a South Bronx worker-owned business that collects and recycles construction materials. Since then, numerous community groups and attorneys have consulted with Professor Huertas-Noble on entity formation options and democratic decision making structures for cooperatives. Such groups, include Cidadao Global, a current client of the CEDC. Cidadao Global is in the process of creating the first eco-friendly house cleaning cooperative based in Queens. Professor Huertas-Noble’s research and scholarship focuses on promoting alternative ownership models, including community land trust and worker-owned cooperatives (alternative institutions). Her scholarship emphasizes the role of lawyer in creating meaningful, client participatory decision making processes as part of the lawyer’s counseling process and in support of client-centered lawyering on behalf of alternative institutions.
Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-Director, Voting Rights Project
Marcia Johnson-Blanco is the Co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project. She manages the Project’s programmatic and advocacy portfolios which include leading Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program, overseeing the work of the National Commission on Voting Rights, promoting election reform, ensuring minority participation in the redistricting process and ensuring that those with felony convictions regain their right to vote. Marcia started at the Lawyers’ Committee as a staff attorney in 2004 working on the first Election Protection program during a presidential election. In 2005, she served as the deputy director of the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act which was organized to review the record of discrimination in voting from 1982 – 2005. The findings of the Commission were a significant part of the record considered by Congress in the 2006 reauthorization of the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Marcia also served as a member of the litigation team defending the 2007 challenge to constitutionality of the Act. Marcia is a recognized leader in voting rights who has participated in countless voting rights discussions at conferences and in the media. She also coordinates the Lawyer’s Committee’s international human rights initiatives. She has worked on shadow reports discussing U.S. compliance with two important treaties: the International Convention on the Elimination on all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has presented before the reviewing bodies during treaty reviews in Geneva Switzerland. Additionally, she serves as the co-chair of the CERD taskforce of the U.S. Human Rights Network. Marcia is very proud that her essay on voting rights is part of an exhibit at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. Marcia has taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. She received her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in Linguistics from Georgetown University.
Jennifer J. Lee, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Co-Legal Director, Sheller Center for Social Justice, Temple University Beasley School of Law
Jennifer Lee directs the Social Justice Lawyering Clinic at the Sheller Center for Social Justice, where she works with law students to represent individuals and organizations on critical issues affecting low-income individuals in the region, with a particular focus on low-wage workers and immigrants. The clinic docket consists of employment cases at all stages of proceedings before the state and federal courts and the representation of grassroots organizations, legal nonprofits, and other entities involved in policy and legislative reform efforts, media advocacy, and community education. The clinic seeks to introduce students to the diverse approaches to lawyering that are necessary to effectuate social justice. Lee’s research focuses on low-wage workers, with a special interest in the ways that immigration status intersects employment and labor rights. Her recent publications have examined immigrant workers and their legal rights, social mobilization, and participation in guest worker programs. Prior to joining the Temple faculty, Lee was a farm worker attorney in Colorado and North Carolina, where she represented farm workers in wage and hour, civil rights, human trafficking, and immigration cases. For her work, Lee and her colleagues were awarded the Paul & Sheila Wellstone Award to Combat Human Trafficking and the Cesar Chavez Organizational Leadership Award. Earlier in her career she was a staff attorney at the ACLU of Colorado, a Clifton Everett Fellow at Legal Aid of North Carolina, and a Staff Attorney at South Brooklyn Legal Services. Lee clerked for the Hon. Franklin Van Antwerpen in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania following her graduation from law school.
Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research, Pew Research Center
Mark Hugo Lopez is director of Hispanic research at Pew Research Center. He studies the attitudes and opinions of Latinos, Hispanic views of identity, the political engagement of Latinos in the nation’s elections, and Latino youth. Lopez also coordinates the Center’s National Survey of Latinos, an annual nationwide survey of Hispanics. He was the research director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) as well as a research assistant professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Lopez received his doctorate in economics from Princeton University. He is an author of reports about the Hispanic electorate, Hispanic identity and immigration. Lopez frequently appears in national and international media in both Spanish and English.
Douglas S. Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is co-author of American Apartheid (1993), which won the Distinguished Publication Award of the American Sociological Association, and of Climbing Mount Laurel (2013), which won the Paul Davidoff Award. Massey has also published extensively on immigration, including Miracles on the Border (1995), which won a 1996 Southwest Book Award, and Beyond Smoke and Mirrors (2002), which won the 2004 Otis Dudley Duncan Award for the best book in social demography. Massey has served on the faculty of the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1978. Massey is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is Past-President of the Population Association of America, the American Sociological Association, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Ed Morales, Author and Journalist
Ed Morales is an author and journalist who has written for The Nation, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the Guardian, among many others. He is a former Village Voice staff writer and Newsday columnist, and author of Living in Spanglish (St. Martins) and The Latin Beat (Da Capo Press), as well as the upcoming Latinx (Verso Press, Fall 2017). He produced and co-directed Whose Barrio? (2009) a documentary about the gentrification of East Harlem, which is currently available from Kanopy. He is currently a lecturer at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, is a fellow of a new working group studying the Puerto Rico debt crisis at the Center for the Study of Social Difference, and hosts a radio show on WBAI FM, Pacifica Radio.
Marta Moreno Vega, President/Founder, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega established the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in 1976, inspired by a vision to create an international organization to promote and link communities of African She has guided the capital campaign for the renovation of the landmark firehouse at 120 East 125th Street that will be the Center’s new home. Dr. Moreno Vega has been an advocate for cultural equity cultural studies and education. As the second director of El Museo del Barrio, one of the founders of the Association of Hispanic Arts, Network of Centers of Color and the Roundtable of Institutions of Colors Dr. Moreno Vega has contributed to assuring that the contributions of African and African descendants are integral to the lives of civil society in the Americas. She has conducted research in Yoruba belief systems in the African Diaspora and has organized international conferences uniting scholars and leading traditional experts focused on expanding the knowledge and importance of sacred African Diaspora traditions. Moreno Vega is co-founder of the Global Afro Latino and Caribbean Initiative (GALCI), a former program of Hunter College/Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. She is chief editor of Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora (Arte Publico Press) and author of The Altar of My Soul (One World/Ballantine, 2001). She is director and co-producer of the documentary When the Spirits Dance Mambo: Growing Up Nuyorican in El Barrio and has written a personal memoir by the same name (Three Rivers Press, 2003). Dr. Moreno Vega also co-edited Actualidad de las Tradiciones Espirituales y Culturales Africanas en el Caribe y Latinoamerica with Maria Elba Torres Munoz and A SNAP SHOT: Landmarking Community Cultural Arts Organizations Nationally with Dr. Sonia Bassheva Manjon. Dr. Vega was a professor at El Centro de Estudios Avanzados Puertorriquenos de Puerto Rico y El Caribe in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an adjunct professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Department of Arts and Public Policy. Previously, she was an adjunct professor of Afro-Caribbean Religions and Afro Latinos in New York City at Hunter College, City University of New York where she was acting director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.
Marisol Orihuela, Visiting Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Presidential Visiting Professor, Yale Law School
Marisol Orihuela is a Visiting Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Presidential Visiting Professor. She was most recently a Deputy Federal Public Defender at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles. She has previously worked as a Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and was a 2008 graduate of Yale Law School. Orihuela clerked for the Honorable Rosemary Barkett of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall of the Central District of California.
Lorella Praeli, Political and Communications Strategist
Lorella Praeli is a political and communications strategist with experience in political and issue-based campaigns. Most recently, Ms. Praeli served as the National Latino Vote Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign where she developed the campaign’s strategy and program to register and turnout Latino voters, which resulted in the highest Latino voter turnout in Presidential campaign history. Prior to joining the campaign, Ms. Praeli was the Advocacy and Policy Director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant-youth led network dedicated to advancing the rights of non-citizens in the U.S. She was responsible for developing the organization’s political strategy and her advocacy focused on passage of the DREAM Act, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. During Ms. Praeli’s leadership at United We Dream, she played a key role in persuading the Obama administration to protect 4 million undocumented Americans through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and 750,000 DREAMers from deportation through DACA policy. Before joining UWD, Praeli co-founded and directed CT
Students for a DREAM where she successfully campaigned for the passage of Connecticut’s in-state tuition bill. She also worked as state organizer for United Action of Connecticut, where she built an intergenerational network of undocumented parents and youth. Ms. Praeli immigrated from Ica, Peru to New Milford, Connecticut with her family at the age of ten, where she grew up undocumented. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Quinnipiac University.
Andre Segura, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union
Andre Segura (@andresegura) is a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. His practice includes litigation relating to immigration enforcement by state and local police. Andre was previously a Karpatkin Fellow with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, a litigation fellow at the ACLU’s Northern California affiliate, and law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge, Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. He is a graduate of New York University School of Law and the University of Texas at Austin.
Gerald Torres, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
Gerald Torres is a leading figure in critical race theory, environmental law and federal Indian Law. He previously served as the Bryant Smith Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law and taught at The University of Minnesota Law School, where he served as Associate Dean. He is also a former president of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Torres has served as deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and as counsel to then U.S. attorney general Janet Reno. His book, The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2002) with Harvard law professor Lani Guinier, was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “one of the most provocative and challenging books on race produced in years.” Torres’s many articles include “Translation and Stories” (Harvard Law Review, 2002), “Who Owns the Sky?” (Pace Law Review, 2001) (Garrison Lecture),“Taking and Giving: Police Power, Public Value, and Private Right” (Environmental Law, 1996), and “Translating Yonnondio by Precedent and Evidence: The Mashpee Indian Case” (Duke Law Journal, 1990). Torres has served on the board of the Environmental Law Institute, the National Petroleum Council and on EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He is currently Vice Chair of Earth Day Network and Board Chair of the Advancement Project as well as serving on the Board of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Texas League of Conservation Voters. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute. Torres was honored with the 2004 Legal Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for his work to advance the legal rights of Latinos.
César Vargas, Co-founder, Dream Action Coalition
Cesar Vargas was the National Latino Outreach strategist for Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. He is a nationally recognized leader and innovator at the forefront of the fight for immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Cesar was brought to New York from Mexico at age 5 after his father passed away. He excelled academically and was an honors student in both college and law school. As an undocumented law graduate from CUNY Law School, he led the fight for equal opportunity and access to the practice of law. Cesar works at the heart of the DREAMer movement, the most vigorous pro-immigrant push by the advocacy communities to date. Nationwide and on Capitol Hill, Cesar and his organization he co-founded, the Dream Action Coalition, have taken the gloves off in the policy battle for a better immigration policy. His advocacy and story helped in the national efforts to convince President Obama to broaden opportunities for millions of undocumented by expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and creating the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), much needed programs in light of congressional inaction on immigration reform. Mr. Vargas has also educated immigrants across the country on their rights, spoken on behalf of his community at congressional hearings, and volunteered at clinics to help young undocumented immigrants apply for administrative relief. He has also appeared in Immigration Court on behalf of children facing deportation. Cesar applied to join the New York bar in 2012, but the Second Department’s Committee on Character and Fitness recommended against his application because of his immigration status. In June, 2015, and after nearly three-years legal battle, a five-judge panel in New York ruled that Cesar can be admitted to practice law in the state he has called home for most of his life. In February of 2016, he was finally sworn-in as a licensed attorney making history as the first undocumented lawyer to openly apply to the state of New York.
Carmen Whalen, Professor of History, Williams College
Carmen Teresa Whalen is the Professor of History and Latina/o Studies at Williams College, where she has also served as the Chair of the Latina/o Studies program and as the Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity. Her interests focus on Latina/o migrations in the contexts of local, regional and global economies. Her first book, From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia: Puerto Rican Workers and Postwar Economies (2001), examined the economic displacements and the labor migrations of Puerto Rican women and men in the post-World War II era. Her current research explores Puerto Rican women workers and the globalization of New York City’s garment industry in the post-World War II era. Author of a photographic history, El Viaje: Puerto Ricans of Philadelphia (2006), she is also the co-editor of a textbook, Major Problems in Latina/o History (2015) and coeditor of The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives (2005).
John Willshire Carrera, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
John Willshire Carrera is Co-Managing Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic at Greater Boston Legal Services and senior clinical instructor at HLS. He is originally from the central Peruvian Andes. John has worked in the area of immigrant, asylum and human rights for over 30 years. He has contributed to the recognition and development of asylum/human rights law as it applies to women, children and indigenous persons. He served as adjunct faculty at Northeastern Law School, where he taught asylum law. He has represented immigrant workers detained during the Michael Bianco Factory raid of 2007, as well as children and mothers who have recently fled Central America. In 1987, he directed the Ford Foundation national research and organizing project on implementation of Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court decision that established the right of all immigrant students to a public education in the United States. He has litigated numerous asylum cases before federal appellate courts. John is a recipient of the AILA Founders Award in 1994, HLS Dean’s Award for Excellence, John G. Brooks Award from the Boston Bar Association, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review award for outstanding working work in public interest, Access to Legal Justice award by the MBA and was named a Lawyer of the Year by Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly 2007.