Hi Everyone, I’m excited to be a new member of the Acacia team. My name is Cassandra Lopez and I’m based in San Diego where I’ve been a federal public defender for the past 12 years. At the Federal Defenders of San Diego, I regularly represented individuals charged with 8 U.S.C. 1326 – illegal reentry after deportation – and often litigated the constitutional validity of the underlying removal. I also took many of those cases to trial over the years, coming up with creative ways to tell my clients’ stories and challenge the government’s burden of proof. For the past three years, I’ve been part of the executive management team at Defenders, focused on supporting all of our staff in our quest to provide zealous defense for our clients. Before joining Defenders, I was an EJW fellow at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland where I started a project focused on providing legal representation to detained non-citizens. I’m thrilled to start off the new year returning to the immigration world and hope to use my experiences as a public defender to ensure zealous legal representation for all immigrants facing detention and deportation. I graduated from UC Davis Law in 2008, but actually attended three law schools. I started at Tulane the year Hurricane Katrina hit, transferred to Davis in the wake of the storm, and completed my last year at CUNY in NYC. When I’m not working, I’m enjoying the outdoors or traveling with my husband and two young kids or getting up early to surf or do yoga.