Veronica Jeffers. Veronica is the Managing Attorney of the Los Angeles field office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and a member of the adjunct faculty at Southwestern University School of Law. Veronica is a Wellesley College and Harvard Law School graduate. At Harvard, Veronica was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. She has been practicing in the field of immigration law for more than 25 years, beginning as an Associate with the law firm of Minsky, McCormick and Hallagan PC in Chicago, IL. She is also a former law clerk to Judge Eden E. Hifo (ret) at the Hawaii state circuit court in Honolulu, HI.
Maria Cobian Alvarado
Maria graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of San Diego in 2001. Maria was then hired by the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), where she assisted the Women’s Economic Justice Project and local living wage campaigns involving broad based coalitions including labor, community based organizations, interfaith leaders, and public officials. Maria also volunteered as the campaign manager for the first Latina to be elected to the Port Hueneme City Council. As a result of her volunteer election campaign work, Maria was recruited as the District Office Caseworker for Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA 23rd) where she not only worked to resolve concerns from the district’s constituents but also assisted with some district representative responsibilities. Maria’s caseload involved primarily the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2005, Maria joined the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman as a paralegal. She assisted with family and employment based cases, including applications for Naturalization, Naturalization of Members of the Military, Freedom of Information Requests from multiple agencies, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and pro-bono cases. Maria continued her studies at California State University Long Beach and graduated with a Master of Public Administration in Urban Affairs in 2010. In addition, she also obtained a certificate in Employer-Employee Relations and Personnel Management. Maria is a member of several professional affiliations including: The Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, The Phi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society, Future Leaders of America Alumni Association, and the Ventura County Leadership Academy Alumni.
Alexander graduated summa cum laude from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in International Studies and Philosophy. After working as an immigration legal assistant in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, he returned to Los Angeles where he earned his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. As a law student, Alexander interned for the Los Angeles Immigration Court and National Immigration Law Center. He also participated in UCLA's Immigrants' Rights Policy Clinic, where he drafted and advocated for policies limiting local involvement in immigration enforcement and served as an editor for the UCLA Law Review and the Dukeminier Awards Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law. Before joining KIND, Alexander represented unaccompanied minors as a Staff Attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center.
Sadie Diaz joined KIND as a Staff Attorney in November 2020. Prior to joining KIND, Sadie spent five years as a Senior Staff Attorney at Sanctuary for Families in New York representing survivors of domestic violence in family law matters. As part of the Courtroom Advocates Project at Sanctuary, Sadie also trained and supervised hundreds of pro bono advocates and law students on assisting petitioners obtain Orders of Protection. Before Sanctuary, Sadie was an associate in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, where she handled litigation and pro bono matters, was the co-head of Latham's asylum project, and served on Latham's pro bono committee. Sadie also previously worked as a fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights and as a judicial law clerk in the Central District of California. Sadie is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Columbia University School of Law.
Iris, is a member of the State Bar of California and a graduate of University of California, Irvine and Western State College of Law, Fullerton. During law school, Iris had the opportunity to participate in the Western State Immigration Clinic and helped serve socioeconomically underprivileged clients with various applications including U-Visas, DACAs, Adjustment of Status, Affirmative Asylum and a SIJS petition. As part of the Advanced Immigration Clinic, Iris also participated in the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) through Public Counsel and Public Law Center at the James A. Musiak Facility and helped screen detainees for possible immigration relief. At graduation, Iris was also one of two inaugural recipients of the Western State College of Law Immigration Certificate. Iris’ passion for immigration law stems from her family’s immigration history and her understanding on how obtaining legal status can positively change a person’s trajectory in life. In 2014, during her last semester of law school, Iris volunteered at KIND and became passionate about helping unaccompanied minors. After law school, Iris continued to volunteer at KIND while also working at a private immigration law office concentrating on family based immigration matters, U-visas, DACAs, Adjustment of Status petitions, I-601A Waivers and Naturalization. Iris’ dedication to KIND resulted in her becoming part of the KIND Los Angeles team in early 2015. Iris is excited and looks forward to helping contribute to their great work.
Veronica Garcia is a Program Assistant at KIND. Prior to joining KIND, she was a Peace Corps Youth Development volunteer in Costa Rica, where she worked with children in a small indigenous community to increase positive youth development programs. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in 2018 with two degrees-- one in Psychology and one in Criminology, Law and Society. She is also fluent in Spanish.
Alyssa is a Los Angeles native and a 2020 graduate of Loyola Marymount University. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science in pursuit of her passion to fight for social justice and human rights. During her time in undergrad, she interned at Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. As an intern she helped serve marginalized communities in Los Angeles. She assisted clients with applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), adjustment of status, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and more. Alyssa is now a Program Assistant at KIND and very excited to be a part of the team. She looks forward to contributing to the KIND mission.
Jossiel Moreira is a cum laude graduate of Chapman University in Orange, CA where he majored in Legal Studies. He received his J.D. (magna cum laude) from Western State College of Law (WSCL) in Fullerton, CA. At WSCL, Jossiel participated in the WSCL Immigration Clinic and Advanced Immigration Clinic, where he developed his passion for helping indigent immigrant clients in need of legal assistance. At the clinic, Jossiel helped clients prepare U-Visas, Asylum applications, and for bond hearings. After graduation, Jossiel volunteered at the Public Law Center, conducting intake interviews with immigrants detained in the Santa Ana City Jail and helping clients with their immigration cases. Jossiel later moved to South Texas to work as a Child Advocate for unaccompanied immigrant children. As a Child Advocate, Jossiel represented the best interests of children with exceptionally vulnerable backgrounds, advocating for them in removal proceedings, preparing applications for legal relief and working with children who had been detained reunite with their families. Jossiel joined KIND in 2015 as one of the first Direct Representation Attorneys with the organization. He now holds the position of Staff Attorney, leading the Los Angeles Justice Fund program at KIND’s Los Angeles office. Jossiel continues to advocate on behalf of immigrant children in need and to mentor volunteer attorneys interested in giving back to those in the community.
Sofi Koivula is a native of Finland, fluent in Swedish, Finnish, English, Spanish and French. She has been committed to working with refugee communities throughout her career. After graduating from the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, with a minor in Latin American studies, Sofi completed an international program in Human Rights and International Law in French at the Universite de Louvain la Neuve in Belgium. Sofi is also a founding board member of Vilda Forlag, a Finnish-Swedish publishing network, and a cofounder of Xenos, a volunteer organization that works with welcoming and integrating refugees into Finnish society. In the U.S., Sofi was a member of the Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service’s steering committee for the Housing and Protection Community of Practice (HaPCoP). After volunteering as an interpreter for KIND, Sofi joined the organization as a Program Assistant. She now holds the position of Senior Paralegal, accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to appear before the Department of Homeland Securities. Recently, Sofi completed the LAPD Community Police Academy program. This program provides community members with an inside look at the Police department and its operations; the goal of this program is to encourage lasting partnerships between the Department and members of the community, designed to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods. Sofi completed this program with the Rampart Division, where many KIND clients and their families are located.
Shino Komine holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law where she received her J.D. degree in 2001. Originally a litigation attorney, Shino has over 10 years of experience in immigration law. Immediately prior to joining Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Shino worked at Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in Los Angeles, California, where she represented unaccompanied minors and other individuals in removal proceedings and in filing of various reliefs and applications including asylum, TPS, DACA, U-Visa, NACARA, family petitions, naturalization, 601A waivers, adjustment of status, and consular processing, among others. Shino also worked as an associate at a private immigration firm for eight years. Prior to dedicating her career to immigration law, Shino worked as a litigation attorney at Arnold & Porter. During her time in private practice, Shino actively engaged in pro bono practice and represented indigent clients in removal proceedings. At KIND, Shino works with pro bono attorneys representing unaccompanied minors from Central America in Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status matters before the state and immigration courts. Shino speaks Japanese and Spanish and is a mother of two teenage boys.
Chloressa Neblina joined the Legal Services Department at KIND. In 2014, prior to going to law school, she began her work at KIND as a volunteer. She had no experience in the field of immigration, but the work inspired her to pursue law. She gained a passion for immigration, deciding to focus on family-based immigration relief. She was hired at KIND as a program assistant during the 2014 surge of unaccompanied minors and would later continuing working for KIND as a paralegal. Even upon her admission to Loyola Law School, Chloe continued working and volunteering her time at KIND. As a law student, she led the Immigration Law Society as co-president for three consecutive years and was accepted into the Loyola Immigration Law Clinic. During her third year, she continued her work as an advanced clinical student helping immigrants in their legal case. Chloe also took part in a life-changing and eye-opening experience in Dilley, Texas, where she provided women and children with Know Your Rights presentations and one-on-one Credible Fear Interview preparations. Additionally, she helped organize Water Drop hikes with Border Angels, lead panels informing students of the issues affecting and harming the immigrant community, and she volunteered at Casa Libre, a youth shelter for unaccompanied male minors in Los Angeles. Chloe has also worked with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles within its Naturalization Project as a law clerk. Since graduating, she has continued to seek out opportunities to learn more about the practice of immigration law in order to continuously learn how to be an effective advocate.
Christina Ontiveros was born and raised in California. She is the oldest child of two immigrant parents from Michoacán, México. Christina is a 2013 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Legal Studies. Following graduation, Christina worked as a legal assistant for the Beles Law Firm in Oakland, California. Working in a high-volume office, Christina was able to immerse herself in immigration law, learning how to prepare applications, conduct client intake interviews, and draft motions. In 2018, Christina graduated from Golden Gate University, School of Law, receiving a J.D. with a specialization in Family Law & Public Interest Law. While in law school, Christina was on the Dean’s List. She was also the Co-Chair of GGU’s La Raza Law Students Association and part of GGU’s Law Review, finishing her 3L year as its Executive Research Editor and publishing Nordstrom v. Ryan: Inmate’s Legal Correspondence Between His or Her Attorney is Still Constitutionally Protected, 48 Golden Gate U. L. Rev. 99 (2018). In addition to her academic accomplishments, Christina interned at The Law Office of Renato F. Manay, where she engaged in asylum work and served as a Spanish translator for in-person asylum interviews.
Gabriel is a member of the State Bar of California. He received his J.D. from University of California, Irvine School of Law and his Bachelor of Art degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from University of California, Berkeley. As an attorney, Gabriel has experience practicing in the fields of immigration, labor and employment law. Gabriel believes the right to migrate is a fundamental right.
Social Services Coordinator
A child of immigrants from Michoacán, Mexico, Alejandra has dedicated her career to serving the immigrant community. After graduating from University of California, Berkeley in 2014, Alejandra moved to Mexico City to study at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). While an exchange student in Mexico, Alejandra also worked with a non-profit that represented families of disappeared Central American immigrants. Alejandra returned to the U.S. in 2016, settling in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Alejandra became Head Paralegal at El Rescate before moving to Immigrant Defenders Law Center, where she became their Case Management Coordinator. Alejandra now serves as the Social Services Coordinator for the Los Angeles office of KIND, a position she has held since 2019.
Xavier Rosas was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA to two immigrant parents from Mexico. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in Anthropology and received his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law graduating with honors. In over ten years of private practice before joining KIND he represented immigrants from many countries and in Removal Proceedings in several states including California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Illinois and Michigan. Xavier’s practice has included advising on immigration consequences of criminal pleas, post-conviction, asylum, family based immigration, SIJS, DACA, and transgender name changes to State Habeas Corpus petitions for incarcerated women who retaliated against their batterers. He has been published in three different matters at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Board of Immigration Appeals and has experience in over a dozen District Court filings and close to a hundred Petitions for Review. Xavier also served in an advisory position in drafting several California State laws that protect vulnerable children and help the immigrant community. He is currently admitted in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Central District of California and Eastern District of California. He helps raise awareness for homeless youth in Boyle Heights and collects Skateboards when he is not chasing after his toddler. Xavier’s work focuses on Direct Representation of Unaccompanied Children full-time and Special Projects part-time.
Amber Spring is an Afro Latinx and California native. Prior to joining Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Amber worked as a Staff Attorney at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), where she represented individuals, including unaccompanied minors, in detained and non-detained removal proceedings and in other filings and applications for relief. Before joining CARECEN, Amber served as a Staff Attorney at The Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) where she represented unaccompanied minors and other individuals in removal proceedings as well as in their affirmative applications for relief. She received her J.D. degree from Loyola Law School where she received honors in the Immigrant Advocacy Concentration and participated in the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic (LIJC). She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in English and Chicano Studies. Amber enjoys fashion, art, and paddle boarding.
Carlos Suarez Hernandez
Carlos is a DACA recipient dedicated to serving the immigrant community. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. Before joining KIND, Carlos worked at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in Los Angeles as an OLAP Accredited Representative. Carlos prepared and filed forms for immigration relief including petitions/applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Asylum, Adjustment of Status, U-Visa, VAWA, DACA, Naturalization, Certificates of Citizenship, Advance Parole, Requests for Fee Waivers, Family Petitions, Provisional Waivers, and Petitions to Remove Conditions on Residency. He also represented clients during their Adjustment of Status interviews and interpreted during Adjustment of Status and Asylum interviews.
Melissa is a 2013 graduate of Occidental College where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish Studies. Post-graduation she joined the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman as a Legal Assistant and was later promoted to Paralegal. As a Paralegal, her work focused on family-based immigration. Melissa assisted clients with their applications for adjustment of status, consular processing, naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. She is a California Court Certified Interpreter with the Judicial Council of California. Her affiliation with KIND began as a volunteer interpreter in 2015 while she was enrolled in the Court Interpretation Certification Program at California State University Los Angeles. After becoming a State Certified Interpreter, she continued to volunteer at KIND on a pro-bono basis. In July 2019 Melissa joined the KIND team as a Program Assistant at their Los Angeles office.
Jaime Alberto Ortiz Zavala