We at CMPI are delighted to announce that Carolina Martin Ramos has joined us as our new Co-Executive Director and Director of our Maya Human Rights Program!
Carolina brings decades of experience in immigration law and human rights, including in nonprofits, private practice, and state and federal agencies. She also brings great dedication to the Maya people, a passion for Indigenous People’s rights, her own lived experience as an Indigenous person and meaningful relationships with Indigenous People throughout Abya Yala and around the world.
In particular, Carolina is recognized for her work with Indigenous migrants, asylum seekers fleeing gender violence, transgender clients in detention, Afro descendant asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America, and victims of human trafficking and other crimes. She is bilingual with talents in program development, creative advocacy, community engagement, and litigation.
She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law where she focused on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, immigration law, and Federal Indian law. Since then, she has practiced immigration law with an emphasis on human rights for over ten years in the San Diego – Tijuana Border Region, New Mexico, El Paso, TX, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She also spent years in nonprofit management at organizations such as Centro Legal de La Raza, the American Bar Association, Immigration Project ( ABA IJP), and Casa Cornelia Law Center. In private practice, she founded Justicia Digna, a firm focused on immigration representation, criminal defense, and post-conviction relief for noncitizens.
Additionally, Carolina was an asylum officer with the USCIS Refugee, Asylum and International Operations (RAIO) in Los Angeles and the first Immigration Counsel for the New Mexico Public Defender Department. Carolina has provided direct services to those detained and those not detained, stopping their removal from the US and helping them access humanitarian forms of relief. She also managed the ABA IJP Legal Orientation Program at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.
Carolina is admitted to practice before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and has participated in crucial federal litigation such as Matter of Ms. L. and the Aleman Gonzalez litigation. As a part of the litigation of the Matter of Ms. L. Carolina traveled to Maya Territories in Guatemala to find, work with, and reunite mostly Maya parents and children separated at the U.S. border.
Carolina has worked with many Maya and Indigenous asylum seekers traveling to the U.S. with caravans and at the Artesia, NM Federal Law Enforcement Training Center during the 2014 “surge.” Her “guerilla lawyering” skills have been applied to multiple immigration humanitarian events over the years and as a volunteer at the Oceti Sakowin Red Owl/Water Protector Legal Collective at Standing Rock.
Part of what makes her advocacy especially meaningful and effective is that she applies Indigenous consciousness, protocols, and cultural knowledge to her work and relationships.
Carolina is a Mexica Nahua Mestiza with descendancy and kinship ties to Indigenous nations in Mexico and the U.S. She has demonstrated a profound commitment to the rights of Indigenous peoples and our sovereignty, liberation, and self-determination through her courageous advocacy.
Carolina understands the importance of protecting our relationships to our ancestral lands and promoting our transnational relationships through government-to-government relationships with other Indigenous nations.
Her role as Secretariat of Ethics and Security with the Congress of Nations and States also positions her to contribute to the sovereignty of Indigenous nations and respect for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Carolina’s meaningful relationships with Indigenous peoples combined with her lived experiences of authentic engagement with diverse communities across borders have led her to Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim where she will offer her talents in service to Maya communities.
Carolina will work with Co-Executive Director Luis Marcos and the community to create an innovative and groundbreaking Maya Human Rights Program that will lift up Maya and Indigenous knowledge, languages, leadership, and interests by training Maya legal advocates to work in the immigration law field as U.S. Department of Justice Accredited Representatives and by promoting Maya civic engagement so that she can work herself out of her position.
She has already started taking cases and representing Maya asylum seekers in detention and in the Omaha Maya community. At the same time, Carolina and Luis will work on strengthening CMPI’s infrastructure and operations to develop the capacity of the organization and ensure sustainable growth.
Carolina and Luis are visionary leaders who share conceptual understandings, goals, and knowledge of how to work in Indigenous shared governance models. Their hearts are well-aligned to serve Maya transnational communities.
We hope you will join us in welcoming Carolina to Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim. She is a good friend and relative to Maya people and has demonstrated great dedication and love for Maya people and causes. We are so excited to have her as a part of our community and team and look forward to the regeneration and transformation we envision bringing about through our Indigenous led human rights based work.