Alana Porter (she/her)
Alana joined MIRC in May 2020. She began as a law clerk on the Detroit Front Door team before transitioning to her current role as a legal assistant for our Unaccompanied Children’s Program in the Kalamazoo Office. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a dual-degree in International Studies and Spanish. In college, Alana spent 5 months studying abroad in Granada, Spain. She is proficient in Spanish. Alana is passionate about immigrant rights and approaches her work through a social justice lens. When she has free time, she loves singing, making scrapbooks, and trying out new recipes.
Alia Sareini (she/her)
Alia is a law graduate on the Unaccompanied Children’s team. She studied Political Science at the University of Michigan before graduating from Wayne State University Law School. During law school she provided legal assistance to indigent clients through her school’s Free Legal Aid Clinic and Asylum and Immigration Clinic.
Alma Acevedo (she/her)
Supervising Program Coordinator
Alma Acevedo is a UC SupervsingProgram Coordinator based out of the Kalamazoo office. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology, Spanish, and Global and International Studies at Western Michigan University. Alma is originally from Jalisco, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. when she was 2 years old. She is fluent in Spanish.
Amanda Schwartz (she/her)
Amanda Schwartz is a Staff Attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, where she is a part of MIRC’s unaccompanied children’s team. She is originally from the Metro Detroit area. Amanda received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, where she studied International Security, Norms and Cooperation, as well as double majoring in Spanish. Amanda went on to Boston University School of Law for her J.D. During law school, Amanda was in the Individual Rights Clinic, where she represented clients in a variety of family law and immigration law matters.
Amanda Tiemi Sano (she/her)
Amanda joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center as a Staff Attorney in May 2021. She currently works on the unaccompanied children’s team in the Ypsilanti office. Prior to joining MIRC, Amanda interned and externed at Legal Services of South Central Michigan. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University for Political Science-Pre law, and her Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law. Amanda is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to Michigan with her family in 1999.
Amyra Woods (she/her)
Amyra Woods joined the Michigan Immigrants' Rights Center as a staff attorney. Prior to working at MIRC, she worked in a nonprofit legal organization's COVID-19 Emergency Eviction Prevention Team. Woods has worked on Family Law, Landlord-Tenant, Civil Rights and Immigrations law cases in private practice. Woods graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a minor in Spanish. She obtained a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and System Design along with a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University’s Law School. As a law student, she worked in Wayne State University’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.
Woods will be based in the Detroit office and be part of the Helpdesk Team providing legal information to the public. Woods' goal is to connect people to necessary resources to assist individuals with making the best decisions for themselves and families to thrive safely and freely.
Ana Raquel Devereaux (she/her)
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.
Angela Servin-Martinez (she/her)
Angela is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and English and minor(s) in Community Action and Social Change and Latino/a studies. She was born in GTO, Mexico and was raised in Southwest Detroit. Angela is a DACA recipient who is very passionate about immigration law & doing equitable work around this. She has been involved in many non-profits around Detroit that focus on immigrant rights. Angela hopes to become an immigration attorney.
Anna Hill Galendez (she/her)
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.
Belinda Orozco (she/her)
Belinda Orozco is a Supervising 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.
Brad Maurer (he/him)
Brad Maurer joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center's Unaccompanied Children's Program as a staff attorney in July 2021. Before coming to MIRC, Brad worked with New York County Defender Services, a public defender office in downtown Manhattan, for eight years. In his time as a public defender, Brad represented indigent clients as a trial attorney in a wide range of criminal cases. Brad also served as NYCDS's DNA & Forensics Specialist, advising other attorneys regarding the forensic evidence in their cases as well as advocating and publishing with respect to broader legal and policy issues in the forensics arena. Brad received a B.S. in Neuroscience from Lafayette College, a Master's degree in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from New York University.
Brett Lee Hector (he/him)
Brett Lee Hector is a Data Coordinator at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). Previously, he has served the immigrant and refugee community as a Department of Justice Accredited Representative (partial) and as an AmeriCorps VISTA. He is eager to utilize his past experience to support all the legal advocates at MIRC and highlight MIRC’s service to the community. Brett Lee has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from Indiana University and is attending the part time JD program at the University of Toledo, College of Law. He enjoys reading James Baldwin, watching Star Trek, and hearing new stories. Brett Lee believes that diversity makes our community more creative, conscientious, and valuable.
Catherine Villanueva (she/her)
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.
Christine Sauvé, LMSW-Macro (she/her)
Community Engagement + Communications
Christine Sauvé, LMSW leads community engagement and communications strategies for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, working to advance narrative and policy change in partnership with immigrant communities across Michigan. Christine regularly speaks to community groups, elected officials, and advocates about issues related to immigration, inclusion, and equity. She is a member of the Michigan Advocacy Program’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and also serves as Co-Chair for the Detroit City Council’s Immigration Task Force. Previously Christine served as Director for the Welcoming Michigan project and contributed to several publications on the topic of social cohesion. In 2013 she was one of ten national leaders honored by The White House as a Champion of Change for her efforts to promote immigrant inclusion. Christine 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 a strong advocate for social justice, loves birding and dark chocolate, and is happy to call Detroit home.
Clarissa Grimes (she/her)
Staff Attorney/Pro Bono Coordinator
Clarissa is the staff attorney responsible for coordinating the pro bono effort to support Afghan refugees arriving in Michigan. Prior to joining MIRC's Ypsilanti office in 2021 as an attorney for children in short term foster care, Clarissa worked as an Attorney Advisor at the Department of Justice, clerking for the Immigration Judges at the Detroit Immigration Court. She also worked for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide residential care to unaccompanied children entering the United States. Clarissa graduated from Michigan State University College of Law in 2018. While studying at MSU Law, she worked as a student attorney at Farmworker Legal Services and the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic. Clarissa speaks Spanish and is dedicated to improving access to justice in Michigan.
Cristina Cakirlar (she/her)
Cristina Cakirlar joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in July 2022. She is a Staff Attorney on the Unaccompanied Children Team. Cristina is originally from Moldova, but she also lived and studied in Romania and France. She received her Bachelor of Laws degree from Romania in 2018, and her J.D. from MSU in 2021. During law school, Cristina worked for the Immigration Law Clinic at MSU, where she managed various immigration cases. Her particular interests include human rights, social justice, immigration, and family law. Cristina is also fluent in Romanian, Russian, and French
Debora Cunha (she/her)
Debora Cunha is a Legal Assistant at our Ypsilanti Office, focused on the Unaccompanied Minors Program . As an immigrant herself, Debora arrived as a minor in the United States from Brazil and is happy to assist unaccompanied minors through her own experiences. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and is pursuing a major in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolutions. Her hobbies include kickboxing and scuba diving.
Deborah Rookey (she/her)
Deborah is a Staff Attorney in MIRC’s Unaccompanied Children program. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 2022. During Law School, she was a founding senior editor of the Michigan Journal of Law and Society, as well as a contributing editor for the Michigan Journal of Law Reform. She also served as a student-attorney in the U-M Pediatric Advocacy and Human Trafficking Clinics. Deborah spends much of her free time performing with singing groups, such as the Michigan Law School Headnotes A Cappella. She is fluent in American Sign Language.
Deddi Gaston (she/her)
Deddi joined the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in January 2022. She is a bilingual legal assistant working specifically with farm and agricultural workers. Deddi was born in Puerto Rico and is a native Spanish speaker. She resided in Boston before moving to Michigan in 2005. Deddi worked many years as a medical assistant providing interpreting services for the Latinx community at various Michigan community organizations and mental health foundations. She transitioned to legal assistant during the pandemic working alongside a private practice immigration attorney. Deddi enjoys working with the public and helping her immigrant worker rights team. She is dedicated to advocating for immigrant rights, and racial equity.
Edith Ledezma (she/her)
Office and Legal Assistant
Edith is an office assistant and legal assistant for Grand Rapids. Being born from Mexican parents and coming from a family of Immigrants, makes her someone who has a deep personal understanding of the immigration process. Her experience has helped her become a passionate professional constantly striving to continue to learn more about immigration law. She has volunteered for a nonprofit organization in Grand Rapids that focuses on immigrant rights. Edith is dedicated to advocating for immigrant rights, and racial equity. Edith is fluent in English and Spanish and has been working in the immigration field since 2016. In her free time, Edith likes to spend time with her family, read, and be outdoors.
Elly Jordan (she/her)
Elinor Jordan is a Supervising Attorney in the Unaccompanied Children program, where she focuses on systemic advocacy within Emergency Intake Sites. Immediately before joining MIRC, Elly founded the Survivor Law Clinic at the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, where she engaged in novel legal representation to enforce crime victim rights for survivors. She also served on the Michigan Supreme Court's Justice for All Commission in order to further access to legal services across the state. Earlier in her legal career, Elly taught and litigated cases on behalf of unaccompanied immigrant children as a Supervising Attorney with Michigan State University’s Immigration Law Clinic. While at Michigan State University College of Law ('11), Elly was the editor-in-chief of the Michigan State Law Review. Upon graduation, she served as a clerk for the Honorable David W. McKeague of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and later as an associate with firm Warner Norcross & Judd. Elly has published in multiple law reviews and journals on topics related to access-to-justice, immigration, and intimate partner violence. Before becoming a lawyer, Elly worked in El Salvador and Washington, DC on human rights and gender equity issues.
Emily Smith (she/her)
Emily Smith is a staff attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s Kalamazoo Office. She is part of a team of attorneys that represent unaccompanied children. Emily received her B.A. in Global and International Studies from Western Michigan University and received her Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Emily received her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. During law school, she worked at the Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic and the Free Legal Aid Clinic. Her work is guided by the principles of social equity and social justice, and she strives to shed light on the collision of these principles with the traditional notions of charity that guide the nonprofit sector.
Erika Mendoza (she/her)
Erika is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. She volunteered for Michigan United providing support to the undocumented community regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Citizenship. Also volunteered during the COVID pandemic to spread reliable information, in English and Spanish, about the virus and vaccines available, as well as providing information about programs and supports available for unlawful families in need. She is passionate about helping and supporting immigrant people, especially children, through Michigan Immigrant Right Center. She has a Law Degree in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish.
Eva Alvarez (she/her)
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.