Mariaelena Hincapié

Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center

Mariaelena Hincapié

Marielena Hincapié is executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the nation’s leading organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants in the U.S., and of the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF). Under her leadership, NILC and the IJF strategically combine litigation, policy, communications, narrative change, and movement-building to effect transformational change. As an immigrant from Colombia, Ms. Hincapié brings her lived experience and bilingual/bicultural perspective to her work.

Hincapié is a nationally respected leader, a legal and political strategist in the immigrant justice movement, and a leading voice in the national conversation on immigration.

Hincapié began her tenure at NILC in 2000 as a staff attorney leading the organization’s labor and employment rights program. During that time, she successfully litigated law reform and impact-litigation cases dealing with the intersection of immigration laws and employment/labor laws. She then served as NILC’s director of programs from 2004 to 2008, after which she became executive director.

Recognized as a seasoned strategist and bridge-builder, Hincapié has led national initiatives, such as the Immigrant Movement Visioning Process, and policy campaigns, such as the creation and successful implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under Hincapié’s leadership, NILC has been at the legal forefront of the fight to stop President Trump’s attempt to rescind DACA, successfully representing DACA recipients and Make the Road New York in a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court found that the Trump administration’s rescission was “arbitrary and capricious.”

Before joining NILC, Hincapié worked for the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco’s Employment Law Center, where she founded the Center’s Immigrant Workers’ Rights Project. She currently serves as board president of the Indivisible Project and previously served on the boards of Jobs with Justice and the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration.

Hincapié has been recognized with numerous awards, including Univision’s Corazón Award, a Stanton Fellowship from the Durfee Foundation, the Latina of Influence award from Hispanic Lifestyle, the National Public Service Award from Stanford Law School, and the Prime Mover Fellowship from the Hunt Alternatives Fund. Hincapié was appointed to serve as cochair of the Biden-Sanders Unity Taskforce on Immigration. She was also the Northeastern University School of Law Daynard Distinguished Visiting Fellow and Practitioner-in-Residence at the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

Ms. Hincapié immigrated as a child from Medellín, Colombia, to Central Falls, Rhode Island, and grew up as the youngest in a family of ten children. She earned her juris doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law.


Panel Information

Wednesday, February 17

1:11 PM EST

Fulfilling a Progressive Vision for America

On the heels of a historic election where latino voters turned out in unprecedented numbers, it is our time to push through a bold progressive agenda that brings relief to the challenges our communities face. Join us in conversation with national leaders to hear about the outlook for progress on key issues important to the Latino community.

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