Support Immigrant and Refugee Rights


ICS Staff 

Tireless Support for the Plight of Immigrants and Refugees
Caryn Crosthwait
Staff Attorney, Unaccompanied Minors Program and Portland Office

Prior to joining ICS in 2019, Caryn worked as a Staff Attorney at SOAR Immigration Legal Services in Portland and Hillsboro. Before coming to Oregon, she led Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay’s Immigration Legal Services program as Program Supervisor and Attorney. She also worked in Sacramento for four years at a private immigration law practice focused on family-based immigration, citizenship and removal defense. She is licensed to practice law in California and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Caryn earned dual degrees in Spanish and history from Drew University, a Master’s degree in history from Tufts University, and her law degree from U.C. Davis School of Law.

Caryn’s current practice at ICS is split between providing legal assistance and representation to detained unaccompanied minors and handling a variety of cases within the Portland office’s general immigration program, including family-based petitions, humanitarian cases, citizenship and DACA. Her work includes representing clients in Immigration Court as well as before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Consulates abroad.

MariRuth Petzing 
Hood River Office Managing Attorney

MariRuth Petzing has worked at ICS since the May 2016. After working with refugees MariRuth was motived to become an immigration attorney. She earned her JD from the University of Washington School of Law in 2013. Prior to coming to work at ICS, she spent three years as a Staff Attorney in Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Wenatchee office.

MariRuth works on a wide variety of immigration cases including asylum, family-based petitions, humanitarian cases, citizenship and DACA. Her work includes representing clients in immigration court as well as before US Citizenship and Immigration Services. MariRuth enjoys working with farming communities and is involved in community outreach and education. MariRuth’s work is motivated by the strength, dedication, kindness, wisdom and perseverance of her clients and coworkers.

Justine Elliot 
Portland Office Staff Attorney

Justine has been working as a staff attorney at ICS since September of 2013. Justine attended Temple University Beasley School of Law with a public interest scholarship and graduated in May of 2011. She was then awarded the Independence Foundation Fellowship, a two year fellowship to work on Medicaid defense and health care reform in Pennsylvania. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

At ICS, Justine works on asylum cases, family-based petitions, humanitarian cases such as VAWA, U-visas, and with T-visas for trafficking victims. She enjoys working with people from different cultures and is fluent in Spanish. Her work is driven by her desire to help families stay together in the U.S. and help survivors of crimes recover and gain stability.

Sam Reese 
Portland Office Accredited Representative

Having started at ICS in 1999, Sam has been working for ICS for almost 20 years. He began as a Legal Assistant and now is an Accredited Representative. He is a graduate of Portland State University where he studied Spanish and Anthropology.

Sam represents clients in asylum cases and family-based petitions. Beyond these, Sam has experience working with special legislation for Central Americans such as NACARA and TPS as well as other more obscure legislation such as Family Unity and Life Act. The motivation that Sam finds for his work comes from his desire to support immigrant communities and make a difference in the lives of his clients.

Lupita Valezquez
Portland Office Client Coordinator

Lupita joined ICS in October 2018 as the Portland Client Coordinator. She graduated from Portland State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and minor in Chican@/Latin@ Studies. Before coming to ICS, Lupita worked at the Office of Admissions and Office of the President at Portland State University.

At ICS’s Portland office, Lupita is the first point of contact for all clients and coordinates all appointments. Additionally, she provides administrative support to the legal workers and assists with data collection. As an immigrant herself, Lupita finds the work that ICS does of high importance and hopes that her work can contribute to the thriving of the immigrant community.

Kaia Austin
Unaccompanied Minors Program Legal Assistant

Kaïa joined ICS in August of 2018. Prior to that she worked with unaccompanied children in Tucson, Arizona for two years. She earned her BA from Oberlin College, and while there spent a semester studying border issues and migration through the Border Studies Program in Tucson.

Kaïa is dedicated to supporting children throughout the often intimidating and dehumanizing legal process. She is passionate about access to justice for marginalized communities and endeavors to bring a compassionate and trauma-informed approach to her work. In her free time, Kaïa enjoys baking bread, biking, and exploring new places.

Rita Ombaka 
Operations Manager

Rita joined ICS as the Operations Manager in July 2017. Rita is a graduate of Lewis & Clark College with dual degrees in International Affairs and Music Education. Before ICS, Rita worked as the Operations Manager at the Alliance for Youth Action, a national organization focusing on cultivating civic engagement amongst young people.

At ICS, Rita manages all things accounting and finance and ensures that the Portland and Hood River offices run smoothly. Born and raised in Kenya, Rita is proud to be part of an organization that brings about positive change to vulnerable communities and is excited for continued growth in ICS’ capacity.

Isaac Alley
Removal Defense Attorney

Prior to joining ICS in 2019, Isaac worked for almost six years in private practice as an immigration attorney. Isaac is a licensed member of the Oregon State Bar, as well as a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Isaac earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Washington School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Portland State University.

At ICS, Isaac acts as a removal attorney for the Equity Corps program, providing counsel and representation to individuals in immigration court. In addition, Isaac is a supporting attorney in the Unaccompanied Minors Program. In his free time, Isaac enjoys goofing around with his two daughters and sharing meals with his spouse.

Virginia Maynes 
Unaccompanied Minors Program Managing Attorney

Virginia joined ICS in March 2018. Prior to joining ICS, Virginia worked as the Child & Family Managing Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Nebraska and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Virginia earned dual degrees in Political Science and American Studies from Brigham Young University and she graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

Virginia’s practice is dedicated to helping children find safety and stability through obtaining legal status in this country. She works on cases including Removal Defense, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Asylum, and T visas among others. The children Virginia works with are predominantly alone without parents or other legal guardians available to provide care and support and most are detained by the U.S. government. She enjoys playing tennis, spending time with her dog Lily, and eating Chicago-style pizza.

Tirsa Orellana 
Portland Office Client Coordinator

Tirsa joined ICS in February as a temporary office assistant and transitioned into the role of Portland Client Coordinator shortly after. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology and brings invaluable experience from working on screenings and consultations of clients at CARECEN as well as her communications and project management work at VOZ Workers Rights Education Project.

At ICS’s Portland office, Tirsa is the first point of contact for all clients and coordinates all appointments. Additionally, she provides administrative support to all the Legal workers and assists with data collection. Tirsa is passionate about immigrants’ rights and access to justice for low income communites and is hopeful that her work contributes positively to change people’s lives.

Brenda Orozco 
Hood River Office Client Coordinator

Brenda has been working for ICS Hood River office since June 2016. She went to school in California and holds a CDA credential in early childhood and wants to continue her education to become a Paralegal. Her passion has always been to strengthen family relationships and well-being. She has extensive experience working with diverse cultures.

At ICS Brenda is our Client Coordinator, the first source of contact for the clients in the Hood River office. She loves to multi-task and provides reception duties, administrative work, data entry, office accounting and most of all supports the Legal workers.

Alhena Herrara
Trafficking Victim Assistance Case Manager

Alhena joined ICS in September of 2018 and works to empower foreign born survivors of trafficking. Alhena holds an Associate in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Pasadena City College in California and a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Psychology from Portland State University. Prior to joining ICS, Alhena worked for the Multnomah Circuit Courthouse, interned for the Human Trafficking division at the Sheriff’s office, completed a year-long Research Assistantship with Portland State’s Doctoral Psychology Department, and participated in the Inside-Out Prison exchange program at McLaren Youth Correctional Facility and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility where she analyzed causes and effects of domestic violence and trauma-informed practices.

As a first-generation immigrant, Alhena is passionate about immigrant rights, while being motivated by the resiliency of her clients as they work towards self-sufficiency. She also conducts trainings on Human trafficking; networks with local agencies, attorneys, law enforcement; and participates on several regional Human Trafficking Task Forces.

Luisa Cruz
Portland Office Paralegal

Luisa joined the ICS team in December of 2018. Prior to joining ICS, she worked as a Legal Advocate with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Granger office where she primarily assisted victims of crime with humanitarian petitions. Luisa graduated from Washington State University’s Vancouver campus in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development. As a paralegal at ICS, Luisa assists ICS legal workers with humanitarian petitions and family petitions. Luisa hopes to go to Law School in the near future to continue helping immigrant families.

Tirsa Orellana
Portland Office Paralegal

Tirsa was raised in a predominantly immigrant community in Los Angeles, CA. Based on her upbringing, she developed a passion for working with immigrant communities and aspires to be able to provide legal representation to immigrants in the future. Tirsa joined ICS in 2018. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology and brings invaluable experience from working on screenings and consultations of clients at CARECEN, as well as her communications and project management work at VOZ Workers Rights Education Project.

Her current role at ICS includes assisting legal workers on a variation of cases. She also serves as a point of contact for community members who are interested in presentations or collaborating for outreach. Outside of work, Tirsa enjoys cooking and checking off trails, waterfalls and viewpoints from her “must go-to” list.

Carina Garcia 
Portland Office Unaccompanied Minors Program Legal Assistant

Carina has been working as a legal assistant for the ICS Unaccompanied Children Program since June of 2018. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and international studies, specializing in migration, displacement, and refugees. Beyond her work at ICS, Carina has experience in conducting academic research on transnational migration as a Ronald E McNair Scholar as well as grassroots and state-level organizing for immigrant rights in Oregon.

Carina’s work at ICS includes supporting the UAC attorney, conducting Know-Your-Rights presentations to detained youth in government custody, providing legal screenings and ensuring access to legal services. As a second generation immigrant, Carina’s work is motivated by her dedication to immigrant and human rights. In her free time, Carina enjoys oil painting and spending time with her family in rural Eastern Oregon.

Jean Sheppard 
Hood River Office Volunteer Attorney

Jean Sheppard is a full-time volunteer with ICS. She is new to immigration law, but has completed classes through the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Innovation Law Lab and Seattle University School of Law.

Prior to joining ICS Jean spent seventeen years as Associate Administrator at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital where she was responsible for all of the hospital support services. Jean has also been a public finance investment banker in New York and Chicago and began her career as a municipal bond attorney in New York and New Jersey.

Jean is the President of the Hood River County Library District and serves on the boards of the Hood River Rotary Club and the Hood River chapter of the United Way of the Columbia Gorge. She lives with her husband on their 30 acre pear orchard in Hood River.