ILD Board

Raha Jorjani: Raha is a Supervising Immigration Defense Attorney with the Office of the Alameda County Public Defender in Oakland, California and directs California’s first public defender Immigration Representation Unit. The Unit received the 2016 “Program of the Year” award from the California Public Defender’s Association. From 2007 until 2014, Raha served as a Clinical Professor at the UC Davis School of Law in the immigration law clinic. In 2015, she taught the first course offered at the UC Berkeley School of Law dedicated to “Crimmigration.” Since 2005, Raha has provided pro bono representation and legal assistance to hundreds of immigrants, most of them detained, before the Immigration Court, BIA, U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, and California state courts. She litigated the Israel O. case before the California Court of Appeal, which resulted in the first published opinion in California to uphold one-parent claims to SIJS for kids in delinquency proceedings. Raha regularly conducts trainings for attorneys and state court judges on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. In 2016, she was selected as one of eight fellows for the Rosenberg Foundation’s Inaugural Leading Edge Fellowship and in 2017, she received the Community Service Award from the Iranian American Bar Association’s Northern California Chapter. In 2018, her contributions to immigrant justice were recognized by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

Margot Mendelson: Margot is a staff attorney at the Prison Law Office.  Her work is focused on challenging conditions of confinement for people incarcerated in prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities.   In particular, she litigates class action cases relating to the use of solitary confinement, the provision of mental health care, and compliance with disability law.  Before joining the Prison Law Office, Margot worked at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, where she practiced complex civil litigation in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate level, with a focus on civil rights cases.  Margot was a Yale Law School Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow, where she represented immigrants detained in Southern Arizona. Margot clerked for Judge Diana G. Motz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Judge Catherine C. Blake of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  Margot received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Harvard College.

Claudia Valenzuela: Claudia is an attorney with the American Immigration Council (AIC). Claudia’s work at the Council focuses on transparency and accountability issues, with an emphasis on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) advocacy and litigation. Prior to joining the Council, Claudia was the Detention Project Director at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), where she was engaged in representation, advocacy and impact litigation efforts on behalf of individuals in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody. Claudia is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law.