Class of 2022
Julio Castillo ‘22 is originally from Calhoun, Georgia. He graduated from Princeton University in 2017 where he majored in the School of Public and International Affairs. At Princeton, Julio focused on issues affecting marginalized communities, such as immigrants and LGBTQ folks, through on-campus student groups and summer internships. He wrote his senior thesis on the United States’ legal and moral obligations to take in asylum seekers fleeing persecution and violence, with an emphasis on unaccompanied minors and LGTBQ folks from Central America. After graduation, from 2017 to 2019, Julio worked as a paralegal with the Public Policy Litigation and Law team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, DC. As a paralegal he supported a team of attorneys conducting reproductive rights litigation and policy work throughout the country. Julio is currently a student in the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law. During his 2L year he was the Co-President of NYU LaLSA and the Diversity-Co Chair of OUTLaw. He spent his 1L summer interning with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem’s Immigration Defense Practice and his 2L summer with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.
Class of 2023
David Jiménez ‘23 was born in Medellin, Colombia and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. He graduated cum laude from Columbia University in 2017, where he double majored in Political Science and Ethnicity and Race Studies. At Columbia, he participated in student groups advocating for Latinx, first-generation and low-income students. Reflecting on his upbringing, David wrote his senior thesis about the challenges imposed by illegality on a community of Colombian immigrants in New Jersey, exploring the ways lack of legal status affected their lives. David also interned at the Center for Court Innovation’s Newark Community Solutions, where he worked on criminal justice reform issues, particularly focusing on reducing the municipal court’s use of fines and jail sentences that disproportionately harm black and brown individuals. After graduating from Columbia, he worked as a paralegal at Alston & Bird LLP, where he assisted on structured finance transactions and on various pro bono matters, including helping attorneys with a successful VAWA petition for an undocumented client. Following his time at Alston, David joined the New York Legal Assistance Group, where he worked as a paralegal in their Tenants’ Rights Unit. At NYLAG, David supported and advocated on behalf of clients at risk of eviction in Queens.
Andrés Orr ’23 is originally from Madrid, Spain. He graduated from Vassar College in 2016 where he majored in philosophy. At Vassar, Andrés interned with Rural and Migrant Ministries traveling throughout rural New York to conduct community outreach with the state’s immigrant farmworker population. In 2016 he returned to Madrid and enrolled in a master’s degree in public policy and human rights law at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). As part of his master’s, Andrés worked at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington D.C. where he was assigned to monitor forced migration in the Americas. He wrote his thesis on the United States’ violation of Salvadoran asylum seekers’ human rights. After graduating from the UAM with honors in 2018, Andrés returned to D.C. to work as an immigration paralegal and prepare for law school.
Class of 2024
Mariana Lopez '24 is originally from Brooklyn, New York. In 2019 she graduated summa cum laude from The George Washington University, where she majored in English and found a passion for racial justice work. During college she interned for various nonprofits, including the organization Community Food Advocates, a group working to end childhood food insecurity in New York City. She was also a legal assistant at a small DC-based law firm that represented both large international NGOs and smaller national and local nonprofits. Upon graduating she joined the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen as a legislative assistant. At Public Citizen she worked on the Replace NAFTA campaign, fighting to protect the rights of workers in both the United States and Mexico. During her time there, she was a research assistant on a report featured in The Washington Post, revealing how free trade agreements have had a disproportionately negative impact on Black and Latinx workers. She also supported a campaign advocating for equitable global access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to her role at Public Citizen, she volunteered for the pro se immigration clinic New Sanctuary, helping clients fill out documentation needed to gain asylum.
Deborah Merino '24 was born in Lima, Peru and moved to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She was raised in Miami, Florida. Deborah was a recipient of DACA and credits the policy with giving her the opportunity to pursue a college education. Her passion for immigrants rights resulted from her own interactions with policies that marginalize undocumented families and her desire to work as a children's advocate. She attended the University of Florida where she graduated cum laude in 2017. While in college she volunteered at the Child Advocacy Center and Interface Youth Shelter. After graduating, she worked as a behavioral therapist for children on the autism spectrum while also interning at a law firm. Hoping to make a broader impact, she became an educator in the same school district she attended. Deborah taught at a Title 1 public school where most of the student body was Latinx and many of her students were undocumented. One of her priorities as a teacher was creating a community in her classroom where students could freely, and without fear, share in the familiar trauma associated with growing up undocumented. Deborah organized and administered "Know Your Rights" Presentations for her students and the after school club she sponsored. The summer before law school Deborah volunteered at Americans for Immigrant Justice where she conducted intakes for immigrants seeking to apply for DACA and asylum.