Support Staff

Fernando Antunez, Case Management Associate

Fernando has been a case manager with ImmDef since March 2018. Before that, he was a legal assistant with CARECEN working with TPSanxs renewing their work permit. Outside of legal work, Fernando spends his time trying to understand and connect with his community in Koreatown by volunteering with Koreatown For All. To ground himself outside of work, he enjoys reading and writing poetry and Goodwill-hopping to try on outfits that he’d never be able to pull off in real life. In 2016, he completed his B.A in Political Science at UCLA and plans to return for graduate school.

Daniela Diaz, Paralegal

Daniela is excited to work on ImmDef's Family Unity Project as a paralegal. Her initial goal was to obtain a degree in zoology, but she quickly discovered that her real passion was social justice. She switched her major to Political Science and never looked back! She credits her interest in politics and social justice to her parents, who, during her upbringing, shared stories of surviving the Salvadoran Civil War. Daniela participated in Model United Nations for three years at Humboldt State University, where she had the honor of advocating on behalf of countries on a variety of important topics. She is dedicated to keep that fighting spirit alive, and has made it her mission to work on behalf of populations whose voices deserve to be heard.

Aracely Estrada, Program Associate

Aracely is a Program Associate for the Detained Youth Empowerment Program (DYEP). She is currently working on completing her Master’s in International Policy and Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She received her Bachelor's degree in Internal Studies and Political Science from CSULB in 2014 while interning with the International Rescue Committee's immigration department. Aracely has experience working with at risk youth in the Florence-Firestone area of Los Angeles. She has also lived abroad in Jordan where she worked with Iraqi Refugees relocated in Amman. She is very passionate about social justice and is very excited to be able to work with Immdef.

Carmen Godinez-Tapia, Program Associate 

Carmen is a paralegal focused on supporting the LA Justice Fund program. Formerly the Pro Bono program associate for the Children’s Representation Project (CRP) and Detained Youth Empower Project (DYEP), Carmen worked directly with unaccompanied minors and with ImmDef’s volunteer attorneys, students, and supporters. Carmen has a range of experience, from student and community activism to her work with non-profits. Among her many activities, she was a summer intern with the CSULA chapter of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social during the 2011 MALCS Summer Institute, where she helped organize workshops and panel discussions. Carmen graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, where she earned a degree in sociology and psychology, with a minor in women’s and gender studies, in 2012.

Daniel Gonzalez, Operations Associate

Daniel is the administrative assistant for the operations team at ImmDef. He is glad to be part of an organization that is fighting for a noble cause. When he is not working at Immdef, Daniel is collaborating with College Path LA, an organization that helps first-generation college students realize their goals. In his free time, he likes to attend comedy shows.

Eva Leiva Partnoy, Program Coordinator 

Eva is daughter and sister to refugee survivors of the Argentine dictatorship and genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. Her activist parents and family experience fire her passion for social justice and protection of children. Eva graduated from Loyola Marymount University’s College of Communication and Fine Arts with a focus in theater for social justice and children’s theater. While there, she interpreted for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel at PeaceJam, a school event. After graduation, Eva worked as adoption coordinator and then Director of Rescue and Adoption at Animal Rescues. She also volunteered at KIND conducting intakes and interpreting for minors in asylum cases. Eva applies her bilingual/bicultural skills as a member of the DYEP team. She is a dog lover and a known puppy whisperer. In her free time, she goes on sunset walks with her beagle Illy, fosters puppies at home, and indulges her aerial arts endeavors. 

Julian León, Comptroller

Julian joined ImmDef in 2015 as the office administrator and has since taken on the role of comptroller. He earned his B.A. from Occidental College, where he studied economics and philosophy and developed an interest in social justice issues. Coming from a mix of immigrant backgrounds, Julian relishes the opportunity to support the immigrant community locally and nationally. Previous to his time at ImmDef, Julian worked in the private sector at a market research firm before taking time to work and travel through Central and South America.

Selene Lopez, Paralegal

Selene joins ImmDef as a paralegal with a background in immigration law in the private sector, in removal defense. She is a graduate from UC Santa Barbara, where she received a B.A. in Political Science in 2014. Selene enjoys painting, reading, binge watching shows, and listening to true crime podcasts. 

Arlette Lozano, Paralegal Coordinator

Arlette is a paralegal for the Children's Representation Project. Her personal experience as an immigrant has shaped her work immensely. Arlette has plenty of experience with community activism and has worked alongside the UCLA Dream Resource Center, MANA of Orange County, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. Arlette graduated from UCLA, where she earned a degree in anthropology and global studies/international development. Arlette’s passion for social justice has led her to pursue law school in hopes of increasing legal services to low-income communities. Arlette’s interests are subaltern studies, anthropology, foreign films, reading, and Ethiopian food.

Roberto Luna, Case Management Associate

Roberto Luna is a Case Management Associate for the Adult Representation Project. He graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a degree in Geography/Environmental Studies, focusing on urban & regional planning and GIS. Interested in serving a career in the public sector, Roberto previously worked for the City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, supporting the transit maintenance division with budget tracking and vendor contracts. A journalism advocate, Roberto spent his college years writing for his school newspaper, the Daily Bruin.

Ana Karen Manjarrez, Paralegal

Ana Karen is a paralegal working in the Adult Representation Project. Graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Community Studies and Anthropology, Ana was a student organizer working toward social and educational equality working directly with communities and students to organize around educational access. Ana is passionate about racial justice and human rights, organizing around Northern California/ Bay Area for the last nine years. Previously, Ana worked with unaccompanied minors and Special Immigrant Juveniles seeking guardianships and family court cases throughout Northern California and the Central Valley. As a paralegal, Ana strives to help those that are personally affected by the lack of access to proper legal services. She is happy to return home to Los Angeles and re-establish a community of her own.

Aiko Marcial Rivera, Paralegal

Aiko is a paralegal for the Children's Representation Project. Aiko is a recent graduate from UCLA where she doubled majored in Sociology and African American Studies and minored in Labor and Workplace Studies. Before joining ImmDef, Aiko was a youth organizer for five years working with youth in Orange County and Los Angeles. Her focus has been providing leadership skills to undocumented Black and Brown youth to empower and advocate for themselves. Aiko aspires to someday become a racial justice movement lawyer.

Carlos Olivares, Administrative Coordinator

Carlos is the Administrative Coordinator for ImmDef. He previously worked at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice working primarily with survivors of domestic violence managing their Shriver Family Project. Having worked at various other non-profit organizations, he also has a background in immigration working primarily with victims of crimes, detained adults, and detained children. He grew up in the Westlake area of Los Angeles and is happy to continue working with members of his community. Carlos graduated for Cal State L.A. with B.A. in History and in his free time he enjoys photography, playing basketball, and attending concerts.

Laura Olmos, Operations Coordinator

Laura is ImmDef’s Operations Coordinator, and is based in the Downtown LA office. She received her B.A. in History and Chicana/o Studies, with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies, from California State University, Northridge. Laura joined ImmDef in 2015, after a decade of experience in conventional real estate, affordable housing management, and direct social service provision for homeless women in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Laura is an avid writer, runner, and color-coding enthusiast

Reashly Pineda, Case Management Associate

Reashly is a Case Management Associate for the Family Unity Project. She received her B.A in International Relations from the University of California, Davis with minors in Human rights and Latin American Studies. Her interest in these subjects drove her to intern at the International Rescue Committee in Sacramento where she worked to resettle and support refugee families. As a daughter of immigrants, she knows the struggles and challenges families face when they arrive to the U.S. Since her time at ImmDef, she has been amazed at the resilience of her clients and is proud to be part of an organization which defends the human rights and due process of all. In the near future she hopes to go on to grad school and continue her work with refugee, asylee, and immigrant populations.

Alejandra Quintero, Case Management Coordinator

Alejandra started as a Paralegal for the Children’s Representation Project before transitioning to case management coordinator. After receiving her B.A from University of California, Berkeley, she went on to study abroad in “Facultad de Derecho" at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City where she also worked with the non-profit organization Fundacion para la Justicia. Alejandra later went on to work as the head paralegal at El Rescate Legal services in Los Angeles before joining the IMMDEF team. A child of immigrants, Alejandra has dedicated her career to helping the unrepresented communities. An advocate for universal human rights, Alejandra hopes to continue her career researching the crisis of unaccompanied child refugees. She hopes to become a human rights lawyer after attending law school.

Jackie Varags, Legal Assistant 

Jackie graduated from CalState L.A. with a B.A. in Political Science. She is the youngest daughter of immigrants and grew up in South L.A. Her parents’ migration narratives and the struggles she witnessed within her community have shaped her identity and interactions with others. She is passionate about making a difference and volunteers for a local non-profit in Inglewood that offers mentoring services to the youth. Her motivation to continue helping underserved communities and learn about policy change led her to intern for the District Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, where she began assisting in immigration casework. She plans on obtaining a J.D. in the near future. On her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and playing basketball with her friends.

Alma Zazueta, Paralegal

Alma graduated from California State University Fullerton in 2013, where she earned a B.A. in communications and minored in Spanish. While attending school, she often volunteered at non-profits and local schools. Before coming to ImmDef, Alma worked as an outreach assistant for Good Docs, where she helped distribute documentaries promoting social change and human rights. At ImmDef, she hopes to make her own contribution by educating clients about their basic rights and helping attorneys in the fight for equal representation.

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