Our Staff

Nora Phillips

Legal Director

Nora 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.

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.

Nicole Ramos

Refugee 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.

Jose Mares

Tijuana Programs Coordinator

Jose was born in Mexico and was brought to the United States at the age of ten along with his five other siblings. Jose raised his now nineteen year old daughter since the age of three as a single father. He lived in the U.S. for almost three decades until he was deported in January 2017 shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Jose attempted to reenter the United States several times to be with his daughter was apprehended and sent back to Mexico.

Jose has since settled in Tijuana and is currently Al Otro Lado’s Tijuana Programs Coordinator. Jose plans to finish his education in Mexico and attend Law School in 2018. His story has been featured in the L.A. Weekly, New York Times Magazine, and the Goethe Institute.

Rigoberto Martinez

Legal Assistant

Rigoberto Martinez Aguilar was born in the Huaguapan de Leon, Oaxaca before migrating with his family to the United States at one years of age and settled in San Diego. In June 2007, at 20 years of age, Rigoberto was deported from the United States, the only country he had ever known, following an assault conviction. With no resources or family in Tijuana, Rigoberto began his life as a deportee working as an assistant in a rehabilitation center, where he earned free room and board. It was here, that Rigoberto learned how to engage with many different kinds of personalities in a positive and professional manner, recognizing that all persons have struggles to bear. In 2010, Rigoberto began a 7 year career working as a customer service agent, and later, a supervisor in a call center for an American company in Tijuana. Rigoberto joined Al Otro Lado in January 2017, and since that time has served as the legal assistant to the Refugee Program’s Border Rights Project.