Skip to main content

Reopening Cases for Justice: Basic Rules and Advanced Strategies for Motions to Reopen in Immigration Cases


Speaker(s): Amalia Wille, Avantika Shastri, Holly S. Cooper, Monica Oca Howell, Trina Realmuto
Recorded on: Mar. 14, 2018
PLI Program #: 240940

Amalia Wille is an associate at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP in San Francisco, California. Her practice focuses on removal defense, complex motions to reopen and appeals, family-based immigration, immigration law and crimes, and asylum. She currently serves on the National Refugee and Asylum Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and as the ICE liaison for the AILA Northern California Chapter. She is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and Georgetown University.


Holly Cooper, Co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic, has extensive litigation experience defending the rights of immigrants and is a nationally recognized expert on immigration detention issues and on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

Cooper is a graduate of UC Davis School of Law, where she was on the Board of the King Hall Legal Foundation and an active member of the National Lawyers Guild. She received her B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate, she also studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Padua in Italy. She speaks, reads and writes in both Spanish and Italian.

After law school, Cooper worked for Reed Smith LLP (formerly Crosby, Heafey Roach & May LLP), The Law Offices of Fellom & Solorio, and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. As the Senior Staff Attorney at the Florence Project, Cooper initiated the Detained Immigrant Children’s Rights Project, provided representation and pro se assistance for adult detainees, and mentored pro bono attorneys. She currently serves on the UC Haiti Initiative’s Steering Committee and is on the Advisory Board for the Gifford Center for Population Studies.

Cooper joined the School of Law faculty in 2006. In the Immigration Law Clinic, she focuses on advocating for the rights of detained immigrants. In 2011, she was the recipient of the King Hall Legal Foundation’s Outstanding Alumni Award and the Carol Weiss King award from the National Lawyers Guild.

Cooper also trains lawyers on a national level and regularly speaks at academic conferences. She provides expert legal advice to public defenders and was the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Liaison to the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge for two years. In the international domain, Cooper has worked on human rights issues in Haiti and has volunteered on multiple human rights delegations to Haiti since the earthquake.


Monica Oca Howell is a Senior Immigration Attorney for CARECEN’s Immigration Legal Program.  She holds a BA in Spanish and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Davis, and a Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco.  The daughter of Filipino immigrants, Monica grew up in Daly City, California, and witnessed first-hand the difficulties that immigrants often face with discrimination and integrating into their surrounding community.  Since being admitted to the California State Bar in December of 2011, Monica has worked on various types of immigration cases, with an emphasis on family-based immigration, citizenship, and petitions for U nonimmigrant status.  She is a Co-Coordinator for AILA NorCal’s New Member’s Division and a member of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California.


Trina Realmuto is the Directing Attorney of the Boston office of the American Immigration Council’s legal department. She litigates before the federal courts on issues related to removal defense, government accountability, and the rights of noncitizens. Previously, Trina served as the Litigation Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and as a consulting attorney to the Council. In addition, she has worked abroad representing noncitizens applying for visas at U.S. embassies and consulates. Trina began her career as an associate attorney at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale in San Francisco. With twenty years of experience, Trina has litigated and argued several precedent decisions on behalf of individuals and classes and amicus curiae, written numerous practice advisories, and is a frequent presenter on immigration issues. In 2015, the American Immigration Lawyers Association awarded her the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for Excellence in Litigation.


Avantika Shastri is the Assistant Director of the Immigrant Legal Defense Program at Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco (JDC). She is also the Legal Director for the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC). She oversees and coordinates the removal defense representation provided by the 15 partner organizations in the SFILDC, including legal strategy, collective advocacy, intakes and referrals, rapid response services, and legal training. Avantika also supervises and supports the legal programs of JDC’s Immigrant Legal Defense Program. Prior to her position at JDC, Avantika was in private practice for 11 years at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale in San Francisco, where she represented immigrants before the immigration agencies and federal courts. She specialized in removal defense, appellate litigation, family-based immigration, naturalization, and the immigration consequences of crimes. Avantika received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.