SDIRC Leadership

Paulina Reyes (she/her), Chair

Paulina was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her parents and sisters at a young age. She was raised in Los Angeles County, where she completed her B.S. in Criminal Justice from Cal State Long Beach. Paulina worked in different nonprofit programs that provided legal services to the immigrant community. She also worked at the Immigration and Refugee Program at Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, where she built community relationships and a stronger interest in immigration law and policy. She then moved to San Diego to pursue a law degree at California Western School of Law.

Paulina is currently a Staff Attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s Cross-Border Initiative, providing pro bono representation to detained and non-detained adults and families in San Diego and Imperial Counties, as well as Know-Your-Rights presentations and legal consultations to asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico.


Pastor Kimberly Ports, Faith Leader (Christ Ministry Center/Safe Harbors Network)


Ian M. Seruelo (he/him), Labor Representative (Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance – San Diego)

Ian M. Seruelo is an active member of the Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) – San Diego Chapter, and has represented the Chapter in SDIRC for several years now. APALA, which is under the AFL-CIO, is a national organization of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that works to defend and advocate for the civil and human rights of immigrants and all people of color.

Ian is an activist and community organizer from the Philippines who migrated to the United States in 2005 to join his family in San Diego. Here in the US, he has been active in social and economic justice issues and campaigns. He is an advocate for victims of labor trafficking particularly those trafficked from the Philippines.

As an immigration and employment law attorney, Ian runs his own law firm and also works with different non-profits including the Pilipino Workers Center, the Somali Bantu Association of America, and has volunteered hundreds of hours to the Employee Rights Center, Alliance San Diego, and other organizations.


Maria Chavez (she/her), Legal Representative (American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) San Diego)

Maria C. Chavez is a partner at the boutique immigration law firm Jacobs & Schlesinger LLP in San Diego, CA.  She represents clients in a wide range of immigration matters including removal defense in immigration court, family-based petitions, and humanitarian remedies.  She frequently gives presentations in the community and volunteers with immigrant rights organizations throughout San Diego.


Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, Community Representative (Universidad Popular)



Alex Romero (he/they), Community Representative (The San Diego LGBTQ Community Center)

Alex grew up in the Chicago suburbs as the child of two immigrants. He graduated with an MS from Stanford University and has since been working at The San Diego LGBT Community Center as a Latino/a/x & Immigration Services coordinator. His work largely involves case management for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers as they navigate San Diego and the US immigration system by providing emotional support and referrals for legal/housing services. He advocates on behalf of many LGBTQ+ clients who seek community and support at The Center.

Alex is a community organizer and has experience facilitating bicultural/bilingual support groups at The Center for Latinx people living with HIV. At the core of his motivation is a deep desire to see people reach their goals by meeting clients where they are and building a relationship based on mutual respect and trust.

Robert Vivar, Community Representative (United US Deported Veterans)



Dulce Garcia (she/her), Former Chair - Ex Officio 

Dulce Garcia grew up in Logan Heights, a community that is predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American. Dulce is undocumented and found it impossible to find financial aid after high school. So, she attended community college at night, and worked as a paralegal in a law office during the day. Oftentimes, she held other jobs including waitressing, parking cars, tutoring, selling flowers and retail. She paid her way through school, and subsequently transferred to the University of California San Diego where she received her bachelor's degree in Political Science. She attended law school at Cleveland Marshall College of Law where she received her Jurisprudence Doctorate with a concentration in Civil Litigation.

Dulce opened her private practice in 2016 and has provided hundreds of free consultations and dozens of Know Your Rights workshops to inform community members of their rights. She also volunteers to represent low income clients in court in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate and various nonprofit organizations. In 2017 Dulce and other DACA recipients formed San Diego Border Dreamers to advocate for more humane immigration laws and policies. In September 2017, Dulce also sued Trump and the administration after the termination of DACA. As a result of those efforts in court, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are able to renew their DACA status while the case is in litigation. Dulce was in the Supreme Court on November 12, 2019 defending DACA.



Pedro Rios (he/him)/Adriana Jasso (she/her), 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 master's degree in Ethnic Studies.  Pedro has also previously served on the SDIRC Advisory Board as Chair.  

Adriana Jasso is the Program Coordinator of the AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program.  She has worked at AFSC for 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.