Veronica Basilio, Staff Attorney - Adult Representation Project
Veronica is a member of the firm's trial and appellate team. She is passionate about zealously advocating for her clients through all phases of removal defense litigation. Veronica is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine and Fordham University School of Law where she was a member of the Urban Law Journal. Prior to joining ImmDef, she practiced civil litigation and was active in her volunteer work at a domestic violence non-profit organization. In her spare time, Veronica enjoys spending time with her family, as well as rooting for Notre Dame football and the Argentine soccer team.
Sarena Bhatia, Staff Attorney* - Children's Representation Project
Sarena joined ImmDef in May 2018 as a Staff Attorney for the Children’s Representation Project (CRP). Prior to ImmDef, she adjudicated applications for refugee status at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, DC submitted by individuals in the Caribbean region. During law school, Sarena participated in her school’s Immigration Law Clinic and interned at UNHCR. Before law school, she served as an AmeriCorps member with the International Rescue Committee in San Diego, where she coordinated a family education center for resettled refugees in the community and taught an after school program for children grades K-5. Sarena earned her J.D. from George Washington University Law School and her B.S. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego. During her spare time, you can find Sarena exploring Los Angeles and re-acquainting herself with life on the West (Best) Coast.
* Licensed in the District of Columbia. Registered Legal Services Attorney under Multi Jurisdictional Practice Program in California.
Devin Chatterton, Staff Attorney - Family Unity Project
Devin Chatterton is a Staff Attorney at ImmDef with the Adult Representation Project. Devin received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. from the University of San Francisco. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Devin was involved in advocating for reentry services for previously incarcerated populations through multiple organizations and internships. During law school, Devin was a summer law clerk for the Public Law Center, where she worked in obtaining medical benefits for clients with HIV or AIDS. Additionally, she interned on the hill for Congressman Alan Lowenthal. During her second summer of law school, Devin successfully argued before the California Court of Appeal for the First District under California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Prior to joining ImmDef, Devin worked at the New York County District Attorney’s Office in the rackets bureau. When not working, Devin can often be found spending time with her family or keeping active with boxing, pilates, or treadmill cardio classes. She also enjoys watching documentaries and live music.
Emily Chertoff, Staff Attorney - Adult Representation Project
Emily Chertoff is a staff attorney in the Adult Representation Project (ARP) at Immigrant Defenders. Most recently, she was an associate at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., where she maintained an extensive pro bono practice centered on immigrants’ and detainees’ rights. In April 2019, the Department of Homeland Security settled a case she worked on, S.A. v. Trump, by agreeing to admit 2,700 Central America-based children and their relatives to the United States to reunite with the children's parents. Previously, Emily volunteered in the Immigration Legal Services division at Catholic Charities in Washington. She holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was involved with numerous human rights projects, and a B.A. from Harvard College. She speaks English and Spanish.
Cathy Dreyfuss, Senior Staff Attorney - Post-Conviction Relief
Cathy is a criminal defense attorney and social justice activist representing indigent criminal defendants in trial, appellate, post- conviction and legislative proceedings for 35 years. After spending six years as a deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County, Cathy joined the Southern California ACLU working on death penalty post-conviction cases and abolition advocacy. She was a legislative advocate for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and Californians for Legal Aid, directing attorney for the Los Angeles County Bar Indigent Criminal Defense Appointments Program, and after a few years as a deputy Public Defender in Humboldt County, was the directing attorney for the California DNA Project, a federally funded project for the state’s Innocence projects to obtain DNA testing in wrongful conviction cases. After the 1996 immigration reform laws went info effect, Cathy developed an expertise in the intersection immigration and crimes, representing immigrants on post- conviction and providing trainings and consultations to defenders representing immigrants in criminal court. Cathy returned to that practice in 2017 to develop an indigent post- conviction relief practice at Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Cathy has a J.D. from University of Southern California.
Troy Elder, Senior Staff Attorney - Adult Representation Project
Troy is a litigator, law professor, and community- and faith-based activist with more than 20 years of experience, mostly at the intersection of immigration, international human rights, ethics, poverty law, and health law. After five years practicing complex litigation at two Wall Street firms, in 2000 Troy moved to Miami to work with Haitian boat refugees as a legal aid lawyer, spending years representing immigrants in the wake of 9/11. Thereafter, he spent 10 years as a law professor, with faculty appointments at a number of law schools across the country, most recently at Yale. Troy has litigated cases in numerous local, state, federal, foreign, and international venues, including securing a multi-million dollar judgment for the victims in the first class action under the Convention Against Torture. Overseas, his human rights work has focused on migration, prison conditions, due process, and access to justice issues, mostly in Haiti, Latin America, and Africa. Troy holds graduate degrees in law and ethics from Yale. He serves clients in French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish.
Iliana Gomez, Staff Attorney - Adult Representation Project
Iliana Alexis Gomez is a UCLA Law Fellow focusing on helping parents of US citizen children. Iliana received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 and her law degree from UCLA Law in 2017. Throughout undergrad, Iliana focused on learning about the US prison system and its negative impact on inmates and families alike. In law school, Iliana applied her passion for helping those affected by the carceral system to focusing on helping immigrants in detention. Iliana became passionate about the fight for universal representation for all detained immigrants. She interned at the Bronx Defenders in New York, which cemented her desire to represent detained immigrants in removal proceedings. Iliana is inspired by her hardworking family including her mother, sister, 3 brothers and her father. She enjoys spending time with her family and loves being an aunt to her two nieces and two nephews.
Daniela Hernandez, Staff Attorney - Adult Representation Project
Daniela is from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2015, she was living and working in Mexico City, as a Directing Attorney for the Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH), Mexico’s Ombudsman. During her five-year tenure at CNDH, Daniela was responsible for hundreds of investigations related to human rights abuses committed by the armed forces, the elaboration of recommendations and special reports and supervising their fulfillment by the federal agencies. Before joining ImmDef, she did volunteer work with legal non-profits that defend immigrant workers rights. She earned her law degree in Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM) in Mexico City in 2011, and LL.M degree from University of California of Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA) in 2017. She is currently completing research to earn her Master’s degree in Human Rights from Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), Mexico City, on the domestic workers labor movement in the U.S. and Mexico. She sees the shift from previous human rights to immigration as a natural continuation of the work she has been doing for years. Understanding that immigration is a transnational global issue, she strives to build bridges from California to Mexico in all the work she does.
Mona Iman, Staff Attorney - Children's Representation Project
Mona Iman is a Staff Attorney in the Children’s Representation Project (CRP). She has broad experience in human rights advocacy, immigration, and international legal development - both in government and civil society settings - and is committed to social justice and the empowerment of at-risk groups to safeguard their rights. Prior to joining ImmDef and her preceding civil litigation practice, Mona advocated for immigrants as a fellow at the ACLU of Southern California, where she investigated CARRP, a previously secret national security policy imposing extra-statutory exclusions and barriers to Middle Eastern and North African applicants. Before focusing on cross-border immigration issues, Mona advised and coordinated rule of law programs in Iraq with the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she led strategic initiatives to support negotiation, transparency, and public participation in the country’s first independent constitution-making process. Mona later served as director of a foundation focused on documenting human rights violations in Iran, and in addition to other efforts, designed and implemented programs in Los Angeles and Dar es Salaam to raise the capacity of youth and junior youth to address issues of social justice and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities. Mona earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served on The Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, and her B.A. from Emory University. Mona has lived all over the world, believes in the fundamental oneness of humankind, and celebrates the beauty in diversity of all forms.
Alfonso Maldonado, Staff Attorney - Family Unity Project
Alfonso Maldonado is a staff attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Alfonso graduated from Western State College of Law and is driven to provide the immigrant community with access to adequate legal representation. During his law school years, Alfonso worked on victim-based relief for clients and successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His work at ImmDef will focus on serving residents of the Inland Empire and will be stationed at our Riverside office. During his spare time, you can catch Alfonso biking down the Santa Ana Trail or camping in the local mountain ranges.
Neysa Nankervis, Staff Attorney - Children's Representation Project
Neysa Nankervis is a Staff Attorney in our Children’s Representation Project (CRP). Before joining ImmDef, she worked as a legal fellow at Public Counsel in their Children’s Rights Project, where she focused on breaking down legal barriers that prevented Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) from reintegrating back into society. Neysa graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Notre Dame. While at Notre Dame, Neysa represented low-income clients in consumer law matters through the Economic Justice Clinic. Before attending law school, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria, providing programming to youth in a juvenile detention center and writing community grants on behalf of her village. In her free time, Neysa enjoys visiting her nephews, traveling, eating her way through Los Angeles and going on outdoor adventures.
Allison O' Brien, Staff Attorney - Adult Representation Project
Allison (Ali) is a staff attorney for the Children’s Representation Project (CRP). Before joining ImmDef, she worked at Immigration Center for Women and Children (“ICWC”) representing victims of domestic violence in their U-Visa application. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Ali was a post-graduate fellow for the Pro Bono & Volunteer Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group (“NYLAG”), and was a research associate for the Jesuit Massacre Documentation Project. Before law school, Ali worked as a middle school English teacher and admission coordinator at an international school in Santiago, Chile. Ali received her B.A. in Public Policy and Spanish from Trinity College and earned her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Eric Vera, Staff Attorney* - Children's Representation Project
Eric is a staff attorney for the Children’s Representation Project (CRP). Eric graduated from UC Irvine School of Law. He earned his B.A. from UCLA. His passion for public interest law was cemented during an internship at Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles, as part of JusticeCorps. While at UC Irvine School of Law, he was active in the Immigrant Rights Clinic and Latinx Law Student Association. Prior to joining ImmDef, he worked as a Deputy State Public Defender in Colorado. In his free time, he loves to spend time with his family, explore the LA food scene, travel, and watch his favorite shows/movies. You will also find him supporting his favorite teams including the Lakers, LAFC, Manchester City, and UCLA. Eric speaks English and Spanish.
* Licensed in Colorado, Registered Legal Services Attorney under MultiJurisdictional Practice Program in California