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Co-creating a vibrant and resilient ecosystem where all immigrants, migrants, and refugees belong

In 2013,

local organizations working with immigrant communities came together to address the lack of legal services capacity in the Houston region. 

These early meetings eventually became the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC or the Collaborative). Collaborative allies include non-profit legal services providers, outreach and advocacy organizations, the business community, law school legal clinics, public agencies, and private foundations.

Mission: We are committed to improving the lives of immigrants in Greater Houston by forging a path toward inclusive and equitable support. Our mission is built on four core principles: holistic legal services capacity, equitable access to services, amplified voices, and catalyzed ecosystems.

Using a collaborative approach in decision-making, program design, and implementation, HILSC:

20230622 - strategic planning full convening (30)
  • Provides funding to advance HILSC’s mission
  • Increases high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services providers equipped to serve low-income immigrants
  • Improves and streamlines immigrants’ access to holistic legal and social services
  • Is a source of reliable and timely information about changing immigration policies and resources

The Collaborative plays a critical role

convening, coordinating, and communicating in the legal services community. Through our work, more immigrants are receiving low-cost, high-quality legal services for immigration issues in Houston. Our work has become even more urgent in the last few years, as the policy environment in which we work becomes increasingly hostile to immigrants.  We have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for immigration legal services and education & outreach efforts in Houston’s diverse immigrant communities.

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HILSC timeline.

/2013-2016 1st Season

COLLABORATION & TRUST BUILDING

  • 15 grants given totaling $760,000
  • Delivering on the Dream
  • Notario Fraud Working Group

/2017-2019 2nd Season

MOBILIZING & FUNDRAISING

  • 45 grants given totaling $3,373,443
  • 7 new programs
    • Immigrant Rights Hotline
    • Deportation Defense Houston
    • Forensic Evaluations
    • Storytelling Project
    • Immigrant Disaster Equity
    • AccessHOU
    • Immigrant Accessibility Index
  • 4 working groups
    • Crime Victims
    • Asylum
    • Detention
    • Access to Services

 

/2020-2022 3rd Season

ADVOCACY & LOCAL POLICY MAKING

  • 81 grants given totaling $2,719,461
  • 9 new programs
    • Connect for Healthcare
    • Thaw the Chilling Effects
    • Houston Welcoming Table
    • Texas Afghan Legal Assistance Collaborative
    • 40 Days of Wellness
    • Strategic Learning
    • Language Justice
    • DACA Application Assistance
    • Immigration Legal Services Fund & SSIL
  • 3 new working groups
    • Immigrant Disaster Equity
    • Impact Litigation
    • Family-based

/2023- The Next Season

HILSC AT 10 YEARS

  • HILSC gets independent 501(c)(3) status
  • Programs
    • Give Citizenship a Boost
    • Co-creating Holisitc Immigrant Services
    • Friend of Court
    • Public-Private Partnership/EJW Fellowships
    • Leadership Circle
    • Universal Intake Pilot

COLLABORATION & TRUST BUILDING

Local organizations and funders came together to form HILSC to address the lack of immigration legal services capacity in Greater Houston amidst record high deportations and implementation of DACA

meet the

HILSC Staff

Executive Director

Zenobia Lai

Legal & Advocacy Director

Victoria (Vickie) Giambra

DIrector of Operations

Christopher Dupree

Bindu Jose
Social Services Coordinator

Bindu Jose

Program Coordinator

Paulina Ramos

Executive Director

Zenobia Lai

As the Executive Director of HILSC, Zenobia leads the strategic vision of the Collaborative through facilitating meaningful collaboration among members, amplifying funding available to member organizations and leading grant-making processes, implementing creative solutions to issues affecting Houston’s immigration legal services providers, and building strategic partnerships.

Zenobia is a seasoned civil legal services lawyer who has worked with low-income immigrant communities throughout the country. She has centered her career on making legal services available to those who lack financial resources, political power, English proficiency, or knowledge of the American legal system. Zenobia helped coin the term “community lawyering,” leveraging resources from private law firms and other professionals to help low-income communities make systemic changes. She is both a practitioner and an educator, helping design training curricula, train trainers, conduct numerous lawyering skill trainings to the legal services community, as well as preparing aspiring law students and human services professionals for career growth. Prior to her legal career, Zenobia was a broadcast journalist in Hong Kong. She also helped run a Cantonese cable television show for more than two decades in Malden, Massachusetts.

Education:
Juris Doctor, University of Minnesota Law School; Bachelor of Science, Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Legal & Advocacy Director

Victoria (Vickie) Giambra

Vickie Giambra is Legal & Advocacy Director for the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative and has over 12 years of experience in immigration law. Prior to joining HILSC, she was the Managing Attorney overseeing the Technical Assistance & Training Programs at the ABA’s Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA). At CILA, Vickie led a team that provided rapid response and legal analysis for other lawyers in the field working with immigrant children and produced trainings informed by changes in immigration law and policy, as well as the needs of legal service providers.

Previously in private practice working on a variety of immigration related matters, Vickie began her nonprofit law career when she joined Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in January 2017. As a Managing Attorney, she led the General Immigration Program at Catholic Charities, which encompassed family immigration matters and provided a full range of immigration services for refugees and asylees. With a B.A., cum laude, in Latin American Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, Vickie began her career working in HR and recruitment for a large international law firm in New York and London. This sparked an interest in employment and immigration law, which led Vickie to enroll in the University of Houston Law Center, graduating in May 2009. She is a member of the Texas Bar and is also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach.

DIrector of Operations

Christopher Dupree

As HILSC’s Director Operations, Chris coordinates the administrative procedures throughout the organization alongside resource development, grant and financial management.

Prior to joining HILSC, Chris worked at the City of Houston. At the City, Chris built out processes to effectively manage utility commitments throughout the greater metropolitan area while bolstering data analytics with modern tools. The systems put in place in the department greatly increased accuracy in long term planning and reporting to state agencies while reducing the time required to prepare the data.

Aside for working with the municipality, Chris has worked in the non-profit and private sectors focused on process improvement and data analytics.

Education:

Master of Business Administration, University of Houston (2016)

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of St. Thomas (2012)

Social Services Coordinator

Bindu Jose

Program Coordinator

Paulina Ramos

Paulina is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. While attending the University of Southern California (USC) as a biology major during the Trump era she saw a need for advocates of the immigrant community. She changed majors to Philosophy, Politics and Law and took a job at the USC Immigration Clinic. As an Administrative Assistant at the USC Immigration Clinic, she drafted citizenship applications, DACA applications, work permit applications, and managed the detention hotline.  She has dedicated her career to service having previously held a position as Youth Commissioner for the City of Huntington Park, volunteering at animal shelters, interning at Aids Project Los Angeles and working with the Immigrant Community for over 5 years.

Paulina moved to Houston from California a year ago to tackle immigration issues in a region more hostile to immigrants, helping where assistance is needed most. Paulina previously worked as a Legal Advocate at the Tahirih Justice Center. Her work consisted of providing trauma informed advocacy to survivors of gender-based violence in the Houston community. Prior to that she worked at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law in their Immigrant Family Legal Clinic as Office Manager. In this role she gave know your rights presentations, created a guide to assist undocumented immigrants in obtaining their driver’s license, conducted legal screenings, and assisted law school students in their legal representation of the clinic’s clients.

In her role as Program Coordinator at HILSC Paulina is managing programs helping immigrants in our community including the Immigrant Hotline and co-creating the Universal Intake, both programs increasing access to resources needed by immigrants. In her role, she is also heading the effort to reboot meeting spaces for non-profit organizations through working groups and fostering a network of allies to best assist the immigrant community in Houston.

Help us fortify the ecosystem to assist immigrants
in greater Houston.

Support co-creating a vibrant and resilient ecosystem where all immigrants, migrants, and refugees belong.

YOUR SOURCE FOR RELIABLE, TIMELY, AND ACCURATE LEGAL IMMIGRATION INFORMATION.

1.-Holistic-Legal-Service-Capacity

Holistic Legal
Services Capacity

Augment the capacity of immigration legal services providers to take an interdisciplinary approach in serving Greater Houston's diverse and growing immigrant population

2.-Equitable-Access-to-Services

Equitable
Access to Services

Advocate for efficient and equitable access to holistic legal and social services for all immigrants

3.-Amplified-Voices

Amplified
Voices

Increase awareness and understanding of immigrant needs and perspectives by providing a platform to elevate their voices and those of organizations working with them

4.-Catalyzed-Ecosystem

Catalyzed
Ecosystem

Foster and facilitate a collaborative ecosystem of legal and social service providers, funders, and elected officials to benefit immigrants in the Greater Houston region

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