Our Board of Directors

Esmeralda Flores


For the past four years, she worked as a Staff Attorney with the Binational Defense and Advocacy Program (PDIB), housed at the Casa del Migrante, in Tijuana, Mexico. Her focus was on the documentation of human and civil rights violations, and family separation issues due to deportations.

In 2013, presented an amicus curiae brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 

Esmeralda is a graduate of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, School of Law (UABC). In 2014 she completed a post-graduate International Migration program at the prestigious Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Tijuana, Mexico.

Esmeralda currently is the Binational Outreach Associate for ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Nora Phillips


Nora is an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, California and is the founding partner of her law firm, Phillips & Urias, LLP. Nora also serves as Legal Director of Al Otro Lado. Nora has a deep commitment to immigrant justice and, prior to starting her firm, worked at non-profit legal services organizations such as the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in Los Angeles (2009-2014) and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago where she was an Equal Justice Works Fellow(2007-2009).

Nora is a nationally-recognized expert on the U Visa and frequently presents on this and other topics to attorneys, law enforcement, and other professionals. Nora frequently works as a consultant expert with the Office of the Federal Public Defender on complex U Visa cases. Nora is a member of the Executive Committee for the Immigration Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois and she exclusively practices federal immigration law. Nora lives in Los Angeles.

Nicole Ramos

Program Director

Nicole Ramos directs the Border Rights Project of Al Otro Lado. The project works with asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico, who want to present themselves to U.S. authorities. In addition to providing direct services to asylum seekers and their families, the project engages in broader legislative, media, and legal advocacy efforts to challenge systemic human rights violations committed by state actors.

Nicole also provides on-the-ground technical assistance, country conditions research, and expert declarations to U.S. attorneys with case needs in Mexico. Prior to joining Al Otro Lado, Nicole worked for six years as an assistant federal public defender in Montgomery, Alabama, where she represented clients charged with federal felony offenses, and death row inmates challenging their convictions and death sentences in federal habeas proceedings. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law.

Erika Pinheiro

Policy and Technology Director

Erika holds both a JD and MPP from Georgetown University, and is trained in econometric analysis of immigration policy. For several years, Erika administered federally-funded, high-volume immigration legal access programs in county jails and immigration detention facilities housing adults and children. Erika helped create an all-volunteer Legal Orientation Program for immigration detainees housed in Orange County jails. Erika also managed legal orientation programs for unaccompanied children and their sponsors. During the 2014 child refugee ``surge,`` Erika exponentially increased capacity for programs serving unaccompanied children by revamping data management and integrating technological solutions.

Erika has conducted trainings on DACA/DAPA for public agencies and CBOs and offers regular technical assistance to LA County in crafting pro-immigrant policies and to public agencies serving noncitizens. Erika has given CLEs on a broad range of immigration law topics and has engaged in local, national, and international media and advocacy campaigns. Erika has represented unaccompanied minors since 2010, and specializes in complex gang-based asylum claims and SIJS for youth with juvenile adjudications. She administered CARECEN’s Refugee Family Program, which offered pro se assistance to recently-arrived families facing removal proceedings in Los Angeles, and advocates tirelessly to protect immigrants’ due process rights before US courts and at the border.

Jose Arce

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Jose (AKA Spanky) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He arrived in the United States at age two and is the father of four children, three of whom are U.S. citizens. A former gang member, Jose was deported in 2007 after a firearm conviction. Separated from his family, Jose attempted to reenter the U.S. and was then incarcerated in federal prison for reentering after being deported. Jose was deported again in 2010 and established his life in Tijuana.

Since 2010, Jose has started two successful businesses in Tijuana, No Mercy Tattoos and Los Tarros restaurant. Jose is a highly gifted tattoo artist and travels frequently throughout Mexico to perform his work. He also works in the following media: airbrushing; oil painting; charcoal drawings; pastels; sculpting; and other visual arts. Jose has been featured in numerous publications regarding the monumental struggles of deportees at establishing a life (and starting businesses) in Mexico, including Univision, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Fusion, and la Razón.