Moving Forward Together

Rebuilding Our Immigration System

Norma Chávez-Peterson, Executive Director, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
Kate Clark, Esq., Senior Director of Immigration Service & Lead Immigration Attorney, Jewish Family Service of San Diego
Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS

Moderator: Michael Hopkins, CEO, Jewish Family Service of San Diego

Since President Biden took office in January, he has taken steps to reverse the unwelcoming immigration policies of the previous administration. Every day, Jewish Family Service of San Diego and our partners at the San Diego Rapid Response Network, HIAS, and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, are working together on the frontlines to support and advocate for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in our community. United, we are focused on ensuring our region Welcomes the Stranger with dignity and respect while prioritizing public health during the pandemic. From sheltering asylum seekers to legal and travel assistance, our combined immigration teams are providing vital help for the most vulnerable families and individuals fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries. Join us for an in-depth discussion on what the current changes mean for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers today, and our role as a community in preserving their right to seek asylum.

By supporting our SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services, you make our work possible and ensure that No One Will Stand Alone In Our Community.

Eitan, a JFS Border Services Advocate, details the steps and timeline that most asylum seekers have experienced as a result of Remain in Mexico. And then we hear from Ana Luisa and her daughter Alexandra, asylum seekers from Cuba who share their story and how it feels to finally make it into the United States.


Did you see our front-page article in the Sunday edition of The New York Times? Stay up-to-date on what is happening with our immigration work by visiting the JFS Newsroom.


Ways You Can Support!

  • Donate Today: Asylum seekers arriving in our community are in desperate need of your help. Your financial support will change lives!
  • Give to the San Diego Rapid Response Network Amazon Wishlist: Donate the most needed shelter items and have them sent directly to the JFS Family Migrant Shelter.
  • Volunteer: The JFS Family Migrant Shelter volunteers are needed in the following driver roles:
    • On-Call Airport/Greyhound Guide
    • On-Call Medical Advocate
    • Shelter Courier (contactless)
    • For questions, please email [email protected]



  • ACLU San Diego and Imperial Counties
  • HIAS
  • Jewish Family Service’s Access Line: (858) 637-3210. Please contact us if you or a loved one are in need of services.
  • For legal assistance and support for immigrants and their families, please call JFS Immigration Services at (858) 637-3365. The 24 Hour Immigration Enforcement Hotline at SDRRN is available at (619) 536-0823 to report local immigration checkpoints, raids, arrests, and harassment.

Norma Chávez-Peterson

Executive Director
ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties

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Norma Chávez-Peterson is an integral member of San Diego’s civil rights community, with more than two decades of visionary leadership, organizing and advocacy experience.

She has served as executive director of the ACLU San Diego & Imperial Counties (“ACLU-SDIC”) since 2013, joining the affiliate as organizing director in 2012. One of three California-based ACLU affiliates, ACLU-SDIC is a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second-most populous county and southern borderlands. She is the first Mexican- American woman to helm an ACLU affiliate.

Chávez-Peterson was instrumental in creating ACLU-SDIC’s integrated advocacy approach to advance priority issues such as education equity, police accountability and immigrants’ rights. Under her leadership, the affiliate’s staff size has more than doubled to forty dedicated professionals who work with and within diverse communities to build power together. In January 2018, ACLU-SDIC expanded its presence in the Imperial Valley, for the first time establishing an office in Imperial County.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Chávez-Peterson was executive director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, an organization of faith, community, education, business and labor partners she co- founded to advance progressive social change in marginalized neighborhoods. In November 2017, she co-founded the San Diego Rapid Response Network (“SDRRN”) a coalition of organizations and volunteers working to support local immigrants affected by family separation, detention and deportation. By November 2018, SDRRN was California’s de facto first responder to the humanitarian needs of thousands of legal asylum-seeking migrants transitioning through San Diego to their intended destinations.

Born in La Piedad, Michoacan, Mexico, Chávez-Peterson grew up in California as an undocumented immigrant in a working-class, single-parent household. From her first efforts as a teenager organizing Chicana/o and Native American youth to her trailblazing work today, her professional life has been dedicated to the well-being of marginalized people and the communities to which they belong.

Chávez-Peterson’s professional and lived experience afford her a deep understanding of the interrelated struggles for economic and social justice. Her core values – that social equity is a human right and meaningful, lasting change comes through collective action – inform her fierce determination to eradicate all barriers to a more just, inclusive and caring society.

Norma Chávez-Peterson holds a BA in Political Science and Chicano/a Studies from San Diego State University. She currently serves on the advisory boards of Partners For Progress and Engage San Diego and on the San Diego Rapid Response Network steering committee. She is married and lives with her family in Chula Vista, CA.

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Kate Clark, Esq.

Senior Director of Immigration Services & Lead Immigration Attorney
Jewish Family Service of San Diego

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Kate Clark is the senior director of immigration services and lead immigration attorney at Jewish Family Service San Diego (JFS), one of San Diego’s oldest and most impactful nonprofits. In these roles, she advocates on behalf of San Diego’s refugees and asylees and assists the immigrant community at-large in applying for various immigration benefits.

Clark is also a founding member and sits on the steering committee of the San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN), a coalition of more than 40 nonprofits and faith-based organizations formed in response to increased immigration enforcement activity in the region. The network operates a 24-hour hotline for emergency assistance related to checkpoints, raids, arrests and harassment, and connects affected people with resources in an effort to carry out SDRRN’s mission of ensuring no one in our community stands alone.

Aligned with this mission, Clark led JFS and SDRRN’s effort to create an emergency shelter for asylum-seeking families who have been released from federal custody as they wait to make their case in immigration court. Since late November 2018, the shelter has welcomed more than 23,500 individuals, providing medical screenings, warm meals and new clothes, legal guidance and transportation assistance to help families get to their loved ones or sponsors elsewhere in the U.S.

As lead immigration attorney for JFS, Clark supervises JFS’s immigration legal services program for individuals in need of legal representation. JFS aids individuals in need of affirmative immigration assistance, removal defense – detained, non-detained, and representation to vulnerable families and individuals placed in the “Remain in Mexico” program known as Migrant Protection Protocols.

Mark Hetfield

President and CEO

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Mark Hetfield first joined HIAS in 1989 as a caseworker in Rome, Italy. He has worked for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a large law firm as an immigration attorney, and has held multiple roles at HIAS over the years. Since being named HIAS’ President and CEO in 2013, Mark has led the transformation of HIAS from helping refugees because they were Jewish to helping refugees because we are Jewish.

Mark is proud of HIAS’ role in assisting and resettling refugees of all faiths and ethnicities and as a major implementing partner of the United Nations Refugee Agency and the U.S. Department of State. He is a frequent commentator and writer on refugee issues on television, radio, newspapers, and other media outlets. Mark holds both a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University.

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