2018 SDIRC Advisory Board

Lilian Serrano, Chair (Alianza Comunitaria)

Lilian Serrano was born and raised in the Tijuana-San Diego border region. She spent her teens in Oxnard, California, a small agricultural town in Ventura County. After graduating high school, she moved back to San Diego County. As an undergraduate at California State University, San Marcos, Lilian began actively working with grassroots organizations focused on immigrant rights. Her expertise and knowledge have allowed her to build and maintain strong ties in North County San Diego with community members who are impacted by immigration policies and organizations that work closely with farmworker families.

Lilian is a member of Alianza Comunitaria, a coalition of human rights grassroots organizations who have worked with community members to create an alert system to inform community members about the presence of driver’s license checkpoints and immigration raids in the North San Diego County area. Lilian is dedicated to promoting social justice all around her and strongly believes that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is her second year serving on the SDIRC Advisory Board.

 

Lauren Cusitello, Legal Representative (Crossroads Justice Center San Diego)

Lauren Cusitello is the founder of Crossroads Justice Center San Diego. She started working as a public defender in Miami, Florida, in 2005. Lauren was an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of California, where she co-founded the Federal Defender Clinic at McGeorge School of Law, and where she led district-wide litigation challenging the racial profiling of Latino drivers on the I-5 freeway. Before founding CJC San Diego, Lauren also worked as a Trial Attorney at Federal Defenders of San Diego, where she won important victories for people accused of re-entering the United States after deportation and of drug trafficking offenses. This is her second year serving on the SDIRC Advisory Board.  

 

Angela Fujii, Faith Representative (First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Diego)

Angela Fujii is of Japanese heritage and was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii. She is a social worker by nature/nurture and by training. She is currently the Social Justice Coordinator for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. In this role, she provides support, leadership, direction, and resources to lay leaders and coordinates the SOLACE detention visitation program. She engages in this work because of her deeply-held belief in the inherent dignity and worth of all people.

 

Mejgan Afshan, Community Representative (CAIR San Diego)

Mejgan Afshan is a native of beautiful San Diego, California and has been involved in supporting progressive issues at the local, state and national level for over a decade. Before joining CAIR San Diego she most recently served the newly resettled immigrant and refugee community at the International Rescue Committee in San Diego. Her commitment and passion for progress is evident in her experience and she believes in the power of the people. Since her time at San Francisco State University where she received her B.A. in International Relations, she has continued to shift the paradigm in engaging Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian and various other marginalized groups into organizing and self-advocacy. She has worked on several political campaigns, for the Barona Band of Mission Indians Tribal Council, the San Diego Democratic Party, former Mayor Gavin Newsom and then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Because of her love of art, she is a regular cultural consultant on multimedia and theater projects while avidly supporting inclusive artistic freedom.

 

Esmeralda Flores, Community Representative (ACLU San Diego-Imperial)

Esmeralda Flores works as an immigrant rights and binational affairs advocate for ACLU San Diego-Imperial.  While at ACLU, Esmeralda has conducted extensive outreach in Mexico for the San Diego ACLU’s Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson settlement that challenged government policy on voluntary returns.  Prior to joining ACLU, Esmeralda 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 native of Tijuana and has an acute and multi-faceted understanding of US-Mexico border issues as a result of personal and professional experiences and a complete overview of the needs and injustices that impact migrants at an individual and policy level. Esmeralda is a graduate of 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 has served on the SDIRC Advisory Board since 2016.

 

Felicia Gomez, Community Representative (California Immigrant Policy Center)

Felicia Gomez is the Policy Coordinator with the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC). She specializes in detention and deportation as well as crim-migration policy work and leads the ICE out of California statewide coalition, which seeks to disentangle local law enforcement from DHS agencies. Her work prior to coming to CIPC focused heavily on US-Mexico foreign policy and human rights issues as well as educational access for immigrant communities in San Diego and New York City.  She holds a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations from the University of San Diego and an M.A. in International Educational Development with a concentration in Latin American and Latino Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. This is her first year serving on the SDIRC Advisory Board.

 

Pedro Rios/Adriana Jasso, Southern Border Communities Coalition Representative — Ex Officio (American Friends Service Committee US/Mexico Border Program)

Pedro Rios serves as the director of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) U.S./Mexico Border Program and has been on staff with AFSC for 14 years. A native San Diegan, Mr. Rios has worked on immigrant rights and border issues for over 20 years. Mr. Rios oversees a program that documents abuses by law enforcement agencies, collaborates with community groups, advocates for policy change, and works with migrant communities. He holds a masters degree in Ethnic Studies.  Pedro has also previously served on the SDIRC Advisory Board as Chair.

 

Adriana Jasso, Southern Border Communities Coalition Representative — Ex Officio (American Friends Service Committee US/Mexico Border Program)

Adriana Jasso is the Program Coordinator of the AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program.  She has worked at AFSC over a decade, advocating for the demilitarization of the border region and the humane treatment of all members of our communities.  Adriana holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature, and a Master of Education degree from the University of California, San Diego.  In her spare time, you can find Adriana practicing yoga, and spending quality time with her family and the world’s most beautiful German Shepherd, Leo.

 

Laura Moreno, Former Chair — Ex Officio (UNITE HERE Local 30)

Laura Moreno was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, and moved to San Diego in 2007 to study at San Diego State University.  While in college, she was involved in MEChA and Union del Barrio, and has continued her activism after college in her community. As a child, Laura witnessed first hand her family being separated and saw how her community was affected by unjust immigration laws.  Now as an adult, she is committed to motivating her community to be engaged, get informed, and make the best decisions for their future regarding immigration. Community and family are what move Laura, and that is why she has proudly served on the SDIRC Advisory Board since 2016.  Laura currently works as an Immigration Coordinator at UNITE HERE Local 30.