While the nation is dealing with the new, and the old immigration orders promulgated by the Trump administration, The National Immigration Law Center announced on February 27 that it has appointed long-time immigration rights advocate Reshma Shamasunder to serve as the organization’s deputy director. “The National Immigration Law Center is and has been a leading advocate for low-income immigrants and their families for many years,” Shamasunder, an Indian American activist, said in a press statement.
“In these challenging times, NILC’s role in fighting back against a xenophobic and nativist-driven agenda is crucial. I am humbled to take on a leadership role in these efforts at a time when they are more important than ever. I intend to take on my new role with the seriousness and passion this moment warrants,” she said.
In this role, Shamasunder will oversee the organization’s legal, policy and advocacy, and communications strategies. She will also serve as a key member of NILC’s Senior Leadership Team.
“The National Immigration Law Center is and has been a leading advocate for low-income immigrants and their families for many years,” Shamasunder said. “In these challenging times, NILC’s role in fighting back against a xenophobic and nativist-driven agenda is crucial. I am humbled to take on a leadership role in these efforts at a time when they are more important than ever. I intend to take on my new role with the seriousness and passion this moment warrants.”
Prior to joining NILC, Shamasunder played a key role in state-level campaigns in California that benefit low-income, immigrant, and vulnerable communities. For 12 years she served as the executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), helping to spearhead important policy wins, including placing limits on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, preserving important health and human services programs, providing access to driver’s licenses for all Californians, and furthering important immigrant integration efforts. Under Shamasunder’s leadership, CIPC became a vibrant statewide organization that now not only helps shape California’s most inclusive policies, but also helps to build the capacity of nascent immigrants’ rights organizations and coalitions throughout California.
Shamasunder also served on the boards of Health Access California and the South Asian Network in Los Angeles, and was an inaugural fellow of the Rockwood Fellowship for a New California, a leadership program for California’s immigrant rights leaders. Shamasunder most recently received Families USA’s Health Equity Advocate Award. Last year she received a NILC Courageous Luminaries Award.
“I am thrilled to have Reshma join NILC’s leadership. For more than a decade she has helped transform the lives of countless California families, and she is poised to help us do the same across the country,” said NILC Executive Director Marielena Hincapié. “Her many years of service to immigrant communities will be a tremendous asset as we advance our mission of ensuring that all people, regardless of where they were born or their income, have access to opportunities that have helped generations of new Americans thrive and contribute to our communities. We are incredibly proud and grateful to welcome Reshma to our team.”
Shamasunder is the daughter of Indian immigrants and was raised in California’s Mojave Desert. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She will start in her new role at NILC on March 1 and will be based in NILC’s Los Angeles headquarters.