SPEAKERS ON THE NATIONAL BRIEFING
Sameera Hafiz is the ILRC’s Senior Policy Strategist based in Washington, DC. Sameera, who began working at the ILRC in 2017, leads ILRC’s advocacy and engagement on federal immigration policy. Sameera brings nearly two decades of experience supporting campaigns and coalitions focused on racial justice, fighting harsh immigration enforcement policies and ending violence against women. Prior to joining the ILRC, Sameera was the Advocacy Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance where she led the organization’s anti-trafficking and immigration policy work, as well as the legal team. Previously Sameera served as the Director of Policy and Campaigns at Rights Working Group, a national coalition addressing racial profiling and other human rights violations affecting communities of color in the US. Sameera was also a Senior Staff Attorney with the Legal Momentum Immigrant Women Program, where she advocated with legislators and executive agencies for policies supporting the needs of immigrant survivors of gender-based violence. Prior to that, Sameera represented individuals before Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals with the Legal Aid Society of New York and she began her legal career at Safe Horizon, representing survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence in family and immigration matters.
Angelica Salas, Since becoming CHIRLA’s executive director in 1999, she has spearheaded several ambitious campaigns locally, state-wide, and nationally. She helped win in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students and established day laborer job centers that have served as a model for the rest of the nation. She led efforts to allow all California drivers to obtain a driver license and is a leading spokesperson on federal immigration policy as an active member of FIRM and RIFA. Under Angelica’s leadership, CHIRLA and its partners across the country have built the foundation for the recent upsurge in immigrant rights activism. As part of a national coordinating committee, Angelica helped convene a coalition of organizations in California which have successfully mobilized millions of immigrants to demand comprehensive immigration reform including legalization with a path to citizenship, family reunification, and the protection of civil and labor rights.
One of Angelica’s greatest accomplishments at CHIRLA has been the transformation of a coalition of social service providers into an organization that empowers immigrants to engage in advocacy on their own behalf. In this respect, she has blazed a pioneering trail among immigrant coalitions around the country and has propelled other immigrant rights groups to follow her lead. In March she walked along thousands in the annual Selma to Montgomery March. She comes by her understanding of the immigrant experience firsthand. As a five year old, Angelica came to the U.S. from Mexico to rejoin her parents who had come to the U.S. to find work and better provide for their family.
Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney and the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). At the onset of 2017, Zahra joined the speaker lineup at the Women’s March on Washington and sued Donald Trump to challenge his “Muslim Ban” Executive Orders. In the course of her work at CAIR, Zahra is frequently seen at mosques and universities facilitating trainings and workshops as a part of CAIR’s grassroots efforts to empower the American Muslim community and build bridges with allies on civil rights issues. She also provides direct legal services for victims of law enforcement targeting and Islamophobia. Her work has been highlighted in local and national media outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, KTVU, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Jose Mercury News.
Among her awards and recognitions, Zahra has received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the Nationals Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and the 2013 Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.
A proud graduate of California’s public universities, Zahra graduated Cum Laude from California State University, Long Beach with degrees in Human Resources Management and Political Science. While in college, she held various leadership roles both at campus and state-wide advocacy efforts for college affordability and social justice. She also worked with the California Faculty Association. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and is licensed to practice law in California. Outside of her work with CAIR, Zahra bakes birthday cakes for foster children through Cake4Kids and is a coordinator for Project Feed, a monthly homeless feeding effort in downtown San Francisco.
Adoubou Traore is a native of the Ivory Coast and the former Executive Director of African Immigrant and Refugee Resource Center (AIRRC) in San Francisco, CA.Â Adoubou is a former recipient of the British Council Scholarship in 1990 and the Fulbright Scholarship in 2000-2002. He speaks French, English, Spanish, Senufo, and Bambara. He obtained a Masters of Arts in English from San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 2002. Adoubou supervises AAN program staff by providing direction, input and feedback, communicates with clients and other stakeholders to gain community support for the program and to solicit input to improve the program, liaises with other managers to ensure the effective and efficient program delivery, and coordinates the delivery of services among different program activities to increase effectiveness and efficiency. In addition to his management duties, Adoubou assist clients with legal consultation, legal counseling and legal processing. Adoubou also does document translation and interpretation in asylum office.