Our Legal Team

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Lilah Thompson

Staff Attorney

Lilah joined Nationalities Service Center (NSC) in February 2020. Prior to joining NSC, Lilah worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as an Attorney Advisor at the New York and Philadelphia Immigration Courts.

 

Lilah graduated from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2017, where she was a member of the International Criminal Court Moot Court team, President of the Student Public Interest Network and the Temple Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and a student attorney in the Sheller Center for Social Justice’s Social Justice Lawyering Clinic.  Lilah interned with HIAS Pennsylvania and at the U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Division), Office of Immigration Litigation. She is a member of the Pennsylvania bar and is fluent in Spanish.

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Jonah Eaton

Supervising Attorney

Jonah specializes in refugee and asylum law and is the Nationalities Service Center's Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience (PPR) staff attorney, providing pro bono legal representation for victims of torture. In addition to his PPR work, Jonah represents immigrants in a wide range of legal issues before USCIS, Immigration Court, and U.S. District Court and Court of Appeals.

 

Jonah co-teaches the Refugee Law and Policy class at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prior to joining NSC, he was a Bates Fellow at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Bureau for Europe in Brussels, Belgium, where he worked on impact litigation before the European Court of Justice and litigation involving refugee rights in the European Union. Jonah is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Michigan Law School.

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Som-Mai Nguyen

Law Clerk

Som-Mai Nguyen joined Nationalities Service Center (NSC) in September 2022. She holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University. During law school, Som-Mai assisted clients in asylum and dependency cases through Penn's Transnational and Child Advocacy Clinics. She also interned at Advocates for Children of New York, the ACLU of Louisiana, the ACLU of Texas, and the Educational Opportunities Section of DOJ's Civil Rights Division.

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Ryan Brunsink

Managing Attorney

Ryan is Managing Attorney for Removal Defense Programs at the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC). He oversees PIRC’s detention work including, the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), direct representation of vulnerable persons, representation through the National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP) for individuals deemed not competent to represent themselves before the immigration court, and PAIFUP representation.

 

Ryan joined PIRC as a staff attorney in 2015, and graduated, cum laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law in May of 2014. Ryan obtained a BA in Economics and Religious Studies at the University of Virginia in 2008 and remains an avid Wahoo fan.

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Benjamin Hooper

Supervising Attorney 

Ben joined the Removal Defense Programs at the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) in January 2018. As a legal aid attorney and manager since 1999, Ben’s advocacy work has included federally subsidized housing, mortgage foreclosure, domestic violence and immigration.  Immediately prior to joining PIRC, Ben worked at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence where he coordinated the Civil Legal Representation Initiative, providing legal service to victims of domestic violence in twenty-two counties across Pennsylvania.  Ben earned his J.D. degree from Northeastern University, and a B.A. in Political Science at Binghamton University.

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Melissa Vega

Senior Attorney

Melissa Vega joined the Removal Defense Programs at PIRC in April 2019. After graduating with honors from Widener University Commonwealth Law School, Melissa clerked for three years for The Honorable Mary Hannah Leavitt of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania (one of PA’s two intermediate appellate courts over state administrative agency law, which also has trial court jurisdiction over certain cases where the state is a party). Upon completing her clerkship, Melissa set up her practice as a sole practitioner for the next nine years, representing clients in family-based petitions, naturalization, TPS/DACA, non-immigrant visa applications and removal defense. Immediately prior to joining PIRC, she practiced immigration & naturalization law in the

Houston, Texas, area. Melissa is fluent in Spanish.

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Yarima González Crespo

Staff Attorney

Yarima González Crespo joined the Removal Defense Program at PIRC in September 2022. She earned her J.D. from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, School of Law in 2019 and is admitted to practice law in Puerto Rico. As part of her J.D., she took courses in Immigration Law, Therapeutic Justice, Appellate Practice and Human Rights Advocacy and Humanitarian Issues. She also worked with the Juvenile Drug Court Program and volunteered with Amnesty International with the “Know Your Rights” campaign. As an attorney, she has done mostly criminal defense work, emphasizing in the appellate practice. Yarima has worked for various nonprofit organizations, mostly in the Human Rights field. She is a member of the Puerto Rico’s Lawyer’s Guild and candidate for the Federal Bar Exam for the San Juan, PR District. Yarima is a native Spanish speaker.

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Yomayra Burgos

Coordinator

Yomayra is PAIFUP Coordinator for Removal Defense Programs at the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC). Yomayra Burgos joined PIRC in March 2022. She was born and raised in Lancaster, PA. She is the daughter of Puerto Rican and Peruvian parents, and Yomayra has spent considerable time traveling abroad. Yomayra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, Global Studies with minors in Latin@ Studies and Government and Political Affairs from Millersville University. She previously served as an intern for Community Outreach on the Jess King for Congress campaign where she worked primarily with Spanish-speaking constituents. For years, she volunteered with the Latin American Alliance by mentoring young women pursuing their higher educational goals through the Miss Hispanidad Scholarship Program. She is committed to serving the immigrant and refugee community. Yomayra is fluent in Spanish.

Working Group

Andrew BaranoskiExective Director, Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center

Andy KangExecutive Director, Pennsylvania Immigration & Citizenship Coalition

Steven Larín: Deputy Director, Nationalities Service Center

Cathryn Miller-Wilson: Executive Director, HIAS Pennsylvania

Laura Perkins: Emergency Response Organizer, Casa San Jose

Emiliano Rodriguez: Regional Director, Unite Here!

Vanessa Stine: Immigrants' Right Attorney, ACLU of Pennsylvania