Baylor alumna leading the way in helping ‘the least of these’ navigate U.S. immigration law
The challenging work undertaken by Mayra Jimenez, BBA ’09, would not be described as glamorous.
In county courtrooms, immigration services courts and offices, detention centers and more, she meets immigrants — many of them children separated from their parents — in order to help them navigate U.S. immigration law. Yet, the impact of Jimenez’s work has benefitted countless families and caught the attention of nationwide outlets — including Glamour, which named Jimenez and her colleagues at The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) among their Women of the Year honorees last year.
Jimenez serves as vice president of legal services at RAICES, a San Antonio-based organization that provides free and low-cost legal services and advocacy for immigrants. In that role, the Baylor graduate is one of two leaders overseeing a legal department that serves tens of thousands of U.S. immigrants annually.
Her relationship with the organization began shortly after graduating from Baylor, as a volunteer while in law school. She later became RAICES’ children’s program director, where she assisted and partnered with vulnerable children (some of them detained or released without their parents), providing legal services and helping them understand their rights. Many of the children had experienced trauma that extended beyond separation from their parents, having faced kidnapping, trafficking and more. In the midst of harrowing circumstances, they found in Jimenez both a friend and a force for their rights.
The work done by Jimenez and her colleges is difficult to quantify but deeply impacting; studies have found immigrants are five times more likely to receive asylum with an attorney. Jimenez has discussed RAICES’ work with CNN, MSNBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, Yahoo! and InStyle. Glamour honored her and her coworkers at their Women of the Year ceremony in New York late last year, highlighting broadly RAICES’ work and a foundational belief that drives Jimenez while capturing only part of her impact: “We just believe that no child should ever have to go to court by themselves.”
Sic ’em, Mayra Jimenez!