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What’s really happening at the US-Mexico border — and how we can do better | Erika Pinheiro





Erika Pinheiro


• 14:03

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Anyone who hopes to volunteer helping refugees on the border should question why they are compelled to do so and what they expect from the refugees they will encounter. Would-be volunteers should read this to understand the author’s perspective on gratitude and question how they would experience the world if suddenly forced to rely solely on charity. “,”note”:”Dina NayerirnCatapult, 2019″,”link_url”:”″,”position”:null,”is_pdf”:false,”eyebrow”:””},{“label”:”READ_Book”,”headline”:”*Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration*”,”blurb”:”The rapid buildup of the “immigration industrial complex” after 9/11 was inextricably tied to mass incarceration, white supremacy and the criminalization of non-citizens. Fernandes provides a sweeping view of how the US immigration legal system exacerbates the exploitation of immigrant laborers from the global south and how a lack of due process for non-citizens serve to brutally exclude both bona fide refugees and immigrants with deep roots in our country. “,”note”:”Deepa FernandesrnSeven Stories Press, 2007″,”link_url”:”″,”position”:null,”is_pdf”:false,”eyebrow”:””},{“label”:”READ_Book”,”headline”:”*Deported Americans: Life After Deportation to Mexico*”,”blurb”:”The author estimates that at least a quarter of those deported from the US in recent years are the parents of US citizens. Some will never see their children or other family members again. This book focuses on deportees who were brought to the US as young children and deported after being convicted of a crime. Understanding the effects of the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act” of 1996 is essential to understanding how mass incarceration drives mass deportation and why the expulsion of so-called “criminal aliens” isn’t necessarily sound public policy. This book also urges the reader to reconsider what it means to be American.”,”note”:”Beth C. CaldwellrnDuke University Press, 2019″,”link_url”:”″,”position”:null,”is_pdf”:false,”eyebrow”:””}]}]},”more_resources”:[],”corrections”:[],”has_citations”:true,”take_action”:[],”explore_cta_experiment”:{},”curator_approved”:true,”description”:”At the US-Mexico border, policies of prolonged detention and family separation have made seeking asylum in the United States difficult and dangerous. In this raw and heartfelt talk, immigration attorney Erika Pinheiro offers a glimpse into her daily work on both sides of the border and shares some of the stories behind the statistics — including her own story of being detained and separated from her son. 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She leads non-profits whose projects have helped thousands of immigrants on both sides of the US-Mexico border.”,”whylisten”:”

As Litigation and Policy Director of the direct legal services non-profit Al Otro Lado, Erika Pinheiro leads her organization’s efforts in filing class action lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s attacks on the US asylum system, as well as slave labor practices and severe medical neglect in immigration detention facilities. Her team has reunified dozens of separated families, including parents who were deported without their children, and has freed dozens of asylum seekers detained at the border. Before joining Al Otro Lado, Pinheiro administered one of the largest DACA programs in California, as well as representation programs for Unaccompanied Children. She also oversaw high-volume Legal Orientation Programs for adults and children detained in immigration prisons.

Pinheiro’s work on behalf of unaccompanied children, refugee families and vulnerable detained migrants is frequently featured in national and international media outlets. She also provides on-the-ground context regarding US border policies to policy makers, including state Attorneys General, members of the US Congress and California elected officials. She has also provided technical assistance and numerous trainings regarding immigration law and policy to attorneys, the California State Bar, Federal Public Defender offices and Los Angeles County agencies.

Pinheiro holds both a JD and MPP from Georgetown University and is trained in econometric analysis of immigration policy. Her thesis analyzed the intersection between immigration enforcement by local police and crime. 

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