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.
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.
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.
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.
John joined KIND as a Senior Attorney in June 2021. Prior to joining KIND, John served as a Supervising Attorney at Catholic Charities Community Services in New York City. At Catholic Charities, John led the organization’s Community Legal Clinic Project and supervised a team of Immigrant Justice Corps Fellows. Prior to becoming a Supervising Attorney, John was an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow at Catholic Charities, where he spearheaded the organization’s expansion of legal services to New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. As a law student, John volunteered with KIND’s Boston office and interned with Greater Boston Legal Services. Prior to attending law school, John served as a Research Associate at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where he focused on voting rights issues. John is a graduate of Boston University School of Law and UC Berkeley.
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.
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.
Ned Martinez received his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of New Mexico. Ned was first introduced to immigration law as an Immigration Legal Assistant and Interpreter at Santiago Law Office, P.C. in San Francisco from 2011-2014, where a large focus of his work was assisting individuals newly eligible to apply for DACA. During his first summer of law school, Ned served as the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association/Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom LGBT Public Interest Fellow, which sponsored his summer fellowship at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in Berkeley. At East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Ned focused primarily on representing LGBTQI+ and HIV-Positive individuals applying for asylum before the San Francisco Asylum Office. During his second and third years of law school, Ned participated in the University of San Francisco School of Law, Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic. As part of the clinic, Ned provided direct services for families and unaccompanied minors in immigration removal proceedings and before the San Francisco Asylum Office. In October 2015, as part of a group of USF clinic volunteers, Ned traveled to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, TX where he volunteered with the CARA pro-bono project which works to assure vital access to counsel for the asylum-seeking women and children being held at the facility. During his second and final summer of law school, Ned worked as the California Bar Foundation's Removal Defense Fellow at Centro Legal de La Raza in Oakland to support the launch and development of a new pro-bono project that was established to serve detained immigrants being held at the Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield. Most recently, Ned provided direct representation to children and families as an Associate Attorney at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic. Ned is originally from New Mexico and was most recently in the Bay Area prior to relocating to Los Angeles.
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.
Javier García joined the KIND team as a Staff Attorney in March 2021. Javier developed a personal interest in immigration law as the son of Mexican immigrants from Michoacán and Colima. Before joining KIND, Javier worked as a Children’s Program Legal Fellow at Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network in Denver, Colorado, where he represented immigrant children in their applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum, U nonimmigrant status, and T nonimmigrant status. He also provided Know-Your-Rights presentations to families and juveniles at the Denver Immigration Court. Javier graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2017, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of New Mexico Law Review and was a teaching fellow in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. After graduating from law school, Javier served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Edward L. Chávez and for the Late Honorable Charles W. Daniels of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Before law school, Javier taught ninth grade at Centennial High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and at South Valley Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Javier graduated with a B.A. in history from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012, where he was a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar.
Glenda Garcia joined KIND as a Staff Attorney in March 2021. Prior to joining KIND, she worked for an immigration law firm assisting clients with their family-based petitions and employer sponsored visas. Glenda is a Guatemalan-American from Los Angeles, CA and the daughter of immigrants. Glenda graduated magna cum laude from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, where she received her degree in Women's and Gender Studies. After the completion of two service terms with AmeriCorps VISTA, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in a rural community in Thailand. She worked together with other teachers in making English accessible to all students no matter their language levels or economic disparities. Glenda earned her J.D. from Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, where she focused her studies on Immigration Law and Education Policy. She held internships at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, CA, the National Immigration Law Center in Washington DC, and Indiana Legal Services (ILS). Her work at ILS was a defining experience in her career, because it cemented her passion for working with families seeking asylum and escaping violence in their home countries.
Lauren Kiesel supports the Legal Services Department at KIND. Before joining KIND in February 2021, she graduated summa cum laude from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA with a degree in Spanish, Political Science, and Global Studies and received her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. During her graduate career at UCLA, Lauren developed a passion for immigration law. At UCLA’s Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, she represented children in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status proceedings and defensive asylum proceedings. Lauren also clerked at Casey Gerry in San Diego where she advanced her litigation, research, and writing skills while working on catastrophic personal injury cases. As a post-graduate, Lauren completed a fellowship with Public Counsel where she supported the Immigrants’ Rights team.
Erika Patricia Munoz
Erika Patricia Munoz supports the Legal Services Department at KIND and joined the team in January 2022. Erika is Mexican American from Los Angeles, California and is the daughter of immigrants. She received her Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. During law school, Erika was a law clerk at the McGeorge Immigration Clinic where she worked on KIND referral cases and represented children in both Special Immigrant Juvenile Status proceedings and removal proceedings. Erika also interned at the Sacramento County Public Defender's Office in the Misdemeanor Intake Department. Prior to attending law school, Erika worked as a case manager for Children of the Night, a group home striving to provide intervention services for girls who were sexually exploited and vulnerable to or involved in prostitution or pornography. She also completed a year of service with City Year Sacramento helping support students in under-resourced schools. Erika is excited to continue her work in advocating for children in need.
Social Services Coordinator
Sebastian Vidal was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in New York since the age of 3. He is a recent summa cum laude graduate of The University of Michigan where he received his MSW degree in global social Work, and holds a B.S. degree in Social Work and Psychology with a minor in Education from The University at Albany, SUNY. Throughout his educational career, Sebastian has been dedicated in working with and advocating for immigrant and refugee populations, specifically, youth. He’s worked with three non-profit organizations from the Dominican Republic with The DREAM Project, to Michigan with JFS of Ann Arbor, to Texas with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) - Dallas, and has worked with refugee and undocumented youth as a school social work intern in Albany, NY. Sebastian joined the Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) team on September 2021 as the Social Services Coordinator and is excited to continue his passion for advancing human rights for other immigrant and refugee youth.
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.
Karina Cazares is a paralegal at KIND since June 2021. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine with two bachelor degrees in History and International Studies in June 2017. Her studies focused on human rights, immigration, and war. She wrote research papers on healthcare inequality in immigration detention centers, the rise of unaccompanied minors in 2014, and human rights violations in Fallujah, Iraq during the Iraq War. Additionally, she interned with the American Red Cross and Human Rights Watch (HRW). Prior to joining KIND, she worked at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) as a Legal Assistant in the Survivors of Violence Unit. She assisted clients in their U Visa, VAWA, and adjustment of status applications, consular processing applications.
Guisel Hernandez joined KIND as a Paralegal in August 2021, promoted to Paralegal in January 2022. Prior to joining KIND she was an intern with Human Rights First in Los Angeles, where she helped connect asylum seekers with pro bono legal representation. Guisel received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego. Her studies focused on understanding the conflict dynamics in Latin America that force people to flee from their home country. She became interested in advocating for the rights of migrants and refugees after hearing stories about the socioeconomic, language, and cultural barriers her parents faced in their home country, and when they immigrated to the United States from their native village in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her interest in migrant rights further developed through her volunteer experience with the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant as an interpreter for immigrants and people fleeing violence and persecution. As an interpreter, Guisel assisted with conducting intakes interviews and translating for clients during their asylum interviews and other legal appointments. She looks forward to continuing her passion for human rights and providing the support that people need to survive and thrive.
Naima Blasco joined KIND as a Program Assistant in December 2021. She graduated from Hunter College in New York with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Human Rights. Her studies focused on understanding the worldwide effects of U.S. foreign policy in relation to emigration patterns and military conflict in Latin America. She became interested in this topic after hearing stories of the 1976 military dictatorship in Argentina that her father witnessed as a teen. During her time at Hunter, Naima had the opportunity to help expand Amnesty International’s Individuals At Risk Program where she developed campaigns to free individuals being persecuted and/or imprisoned for their beliefs or identities. She represented AIUSA’s interests in D.C. while proposing two bills and a resolution to several Congress people, Senators, and their staffers that would protect refugees, migrants, and human rights defenders. She gravitated towards community outreach while volunteering at Make The Road NY, where she conducted mock interviews to help immigrants succeed in their citizenship exams. Naima worked as a waitress throughout New York and Brooklyn for 10 years. She looks forward to empowering immigrant communities and continuing to offer protection and support for Los Angeles’ immigrant youth at KIND.
Jaime was born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico. He is a recent immigrant to the U.S. In Guanajuato, Jaime worked for a law firm engaged in administrative and immigration law. This experience provided him with his first exposure to the complexities, international scope and humanitarian issues associated with immigration law. In 2019, Jaime received his bachelor of law degree with honors from the University of Guanajuato. His graduate thesis was “Normative Irregularities in the Immigration Court Proceedings by the Light of Public International Law.” After immigrating to the U.S. after graduation, Jaime worked in Los Angeles as a paralegal for two sole practioners on defensive and affirmative asylum cases, bond and custody matters, petitions for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and cancellation of removal. His experience convinced Jaime that the protection of immigrant children’s rights was critical and often overlooked. Joining KIND in March 2021 has given Jaime the opportunity to work on immigrant issues close to his heart.