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Preparing to Be an Emergency Responder to ICE Enforcement Actions

Speaker(s): Avantika Shastri, Evelyn A Wiese, Hamid Yazdan Panah, Kathleen A. Kavanagh, Kelly Engel Wells, Mario Castillo Martínez, Marisela Esparza, Matthew Weisner, Milli E. Atkinson
Recorded on: Apr. 5, 2019
PLI Program #: 267840

Matthew Gilbert Weisner is the Directing Attorney at the Immigration Project of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. Mr. Weisner received his J.D. from UC Davis School of Law and his B.A. with High Honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was admitted to the California Bar in 2013, and previously worked as the Supervising Immigration Attorney at Catholic Charities of the East Bay and as a Senior Immigration Attorney with the Central American Resource Center of Northern California (CARECEN SF). As an immigration attorney, Mr. Weisner has represented over a hundred unaccompanied minors in a variety of affirmative and defensive casework, including asylum, special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), U-Visa, T-Visa, family-based visa petitions, and other immigration remedies. Mr. Weisner has represented unaccompanied minors before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and family and probate courts in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties. He served as American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) NorCal co-liaison to the San Francisco Asylum Office from 2018-2020 and was a featured panelist at the 2020 AILA National Conference on Immigration Law. In his free time, Mr. Weisner likes to listen to podcasts and hike in the Santa Cruz redwoods with his wife.

Avantika Shastri is an immigration defense attorney with the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, where she primarily provides advice and training to 100+ public defenders about the immigration consequences of adult and juvenile offenses.  Prior to this position, she was the Legal Director for the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC).  She oversaw and coordinated the removal defense representation provided by the 15 partner organizations, including legal strategy, collective advocacy, intakes and referrals, rapid response services, and legal training.  Avantika also supervised and supported the Immigrant Legal Defense Program at the Justice and Diversity Center (JDC) of The Bar Association of San Francisco as its Assistant Legal Director during this time.  She was awarded a Certificate of Honor by the Mayor of San Francisco in 2018 for her work with the JDC and SFILDC.  Previously, Avantika was in private practice for 11 years at Van Der Hout, LLP 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.

Evelyn Wiese is a Staff Attorney with the Central American Resource Center of Northern California (CARECEN). She represents clients in a variety of matters, with a focus on removal defense work. Evelyn received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University, her master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and her law degree from Columbia University, where she participated in externships with the New York Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit and the Department of Justice’s now-defunct Office of Access to Justice. Prior to joining CARECEN, Evelyn worked in private practice in international arbitration and focused her pro bono practice on representing clients in a range of immigration matters.

Hamid Yazdan Panah is the Regional Director for the Northern California Rapid Response & Immigrant Defense Network (NCRRIDN), and was involved in the development and launch of the network. Prior to joining the NCRRIDN, Hamid was a solo immigration attorney in Berkeley, CA. Hamid has a background in organizing in the Iranian diaspora, and has advocated on the human rights abuses and the mistreatment of ethnic minorities in Iran. As a refugee, Hamid is committed to ensuring due process and civil rights for immigrants in the United States and beyond.

Kathleen (Katie) Kavanagh is the Emergency Attorney Legal Responder covering the San Francisco ICE processing center for the Northern California Rapid Response & Immigrant Defense Network (NCRRIDN). She is based out of the Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco. Prior to joining NCRRIDN, Katie was a Staff Attorney and Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow at The Legal Aid Society in New York City. She attended NYU School of Law as a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar, where she participated in the Immigrant Rights Clinic for two years. She also completed immigration-focused internships at The Bronx Defenders, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and The Door. Before law school, Katie was an immigration paralegal for seven years, including four years at the San Francisco firm Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP.

Kelly Engel Wells is an Immigration Attorney with Dolores Street Community Services, where she focuses on representing detained adults in facing removal. Since 2017, Kelly has participated in the San Francisco Rapid Response Network, and has also helped train and coordinate San Francisco attorney responders through the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC). Prior to joining Dolores Street, Kelly supervised the Unaccompanied Minors Program at Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services in El Paso, Texas, serving the immigration legal needs of unaccompanied minors detained in or released from ORR facilities throughout the West Texas/New Mexico region. Kelly has also helped to organize city-wide efforts in New York City to provide asylum screenings to unrepresented respondents in immigration court, and during law school, completed an immigration law externship at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco. Kelly received her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law and her B.A. with Honors from Stanford University.

Mario Castillo Martínez is the Program Coordinator for NCRRIDN at the Justice & Diversity Center in San Francisco, overseeing the development of regional strategies and data analysis to improve legal services. Prior to his role with NCRRIDN, Mario was the Immigration Case Coordinator for the Northern California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, providing resources and support to unrepresented individuals in detention. Mario completed graduate internships abroad focused on international human rights issues, international development, regional legal networks, and refugee issues in the European Union. Mario holds an M.A. in Social Sciences.

Marisela Esparza is the Director of Immigrant Rights at Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco. Marisela oversees community building through overseeing the following coalitions, San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network (SFILEN), SF Rapid Response Network (SFRRN), Bay Area Rapid Response through NCRRIDN. In 2017, she led the advocacy efforts to re-launch the San Francisco Rapid Response Network. Her passion for immigrant rights stems from early youth when her mother was deported because of attorney misrepresentation. Marisela graduated as a Gates Millennium Scholar with a B.A in International Studies at the University of San Francisco in 2014. Marisela has worked on immigrant rights campaigns at the local, state, and national level.

Milli Atkinson is a Supervising Attorney with the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) in San Francisco. ICWC is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing legal services to victims of trauma and violence. As part of her role at ICWC, Milli supervises ICWC’s Legal Orientation Program for Custodians, which provides support for unaccompanied minors after reunification with family members in Northern California. Milli has been participating in the SFILDC Rapid Response program since it began in 2017. Prior to her time at ICWC, Milli worked in private practice where she represented detained individuals in immigration court, including at bond hearings. She transitioned to non-profit work in 2013 as the Lead Attorney for Centro de Ayuda Legal para Inmigrantes (CALI) in Santa Clara, CA. While at CALI, Milli supervised the work of the legal staff and managed her own diverse caseload.