About Us

Our origin story

CMN was co-founded by Stefania Arteaga and Becca O’Neill. Stefania and Becca met in 2017 doing legal advocacy work in the non-profit sector in Charlotte. Although NC has an established (and growing) migrant and immigrant population, low cost and free immigration legal services available to these communities is limited in scope. There are currently no non-profits in NC that offer low cost or free immigration legal services for individuals detained by ICE. CMN’s objective is to create an alliance between the legal profession and those who work in the areas of strategizing and organizing against ICE actions in our state. CMN is committed to listening to what impacted communities are asking for in light of increased ICE raids and hostility in the region. 

Bridging the gap between legal services
& advocacy.

CMN bridges the gap between legal services and advocacy efforts. Our goal is to mobilize the significant resources and talent that exists in the Carolinas to create a true offensive front to ICE operations in our state. CMN put out a call to action for attorneys in the region to take on pro bono immigration bond cases under the supervision of experienced immigration attorneys. This initial call was answered by over 80 attorneys, paralegals, certified interpreters, and others who want to provide meaningful support to individuals in detention, and CMN is committed to further building upon this network.

Our Mission

Carolina Migrant Network’s mission is to build and sustain services for people targeted by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration (DHS). We provide compassionate and competent pro-bono legal representation. We organize with communities to disrupt the deportation pipeline/ system. We envision a world of empowered, self-determined, organized communities, free from the fear of deportation and family separation.

Meet Our Team

Stefania Arteaga

Co-Director/Strategist

Stefania Arteaga is an organizer and strategist who has played a crucial role in advancing immigrants’ rights organizing in North Carolina. Stefania has co-founded the grassroots group Comunidad Colectiva and the Carolina Migrant Network. For years she has worked on push back the tide of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement collaboration. As an immigrant from El Salvador, she spent years organizing undocumented students, deportation defense campaigns, and toward the successful end of 287(g) in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County. Most recently she became a Z Smith Reynolds All for NC fellows working on immigrants right in the Carolinas.

Stefania@carolinamigrantnetwork.org

Becca O'Neill

Co- Director / Attorney

Is a Charlotte native with over thirteen years experience working in the field of immigration law, eleven of those years as a practicing immigration attorney. Her practice has focused on humanitarian-based immigration law, asylum (affirmative and defensive), custody redetermination hearings, refugee family reunification, complex naturalization cases, and family-based immigrant visa work. Previously she served as special counsel on immigration issues to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden and assisted with ending 287(g) and the implementation of the new jail policy. Prior to enrolling in law school, Becca was a social worker who worked in Eastern North Carolina, Rwanda, and New York, NY. After several years of practicing law in Kentucky, Becca returned to her hometown of Charlotte in 2017.

Tori Shepherd

Immigration Attorney

Coming soon…

Daniela Andrade

Communications and Digital Organizer

Daniela Andrade joined Carolina Migrant Network (CMN) in January of 2023 as Communications and Digital Organizer. In the previous year, Daniela worked with Comunidad Colectiva (CC) , the sister organization of CMN as a Community Coordinator and has been working in the non profit sector for the past 6 years. She graduated from Florida International University with a major in Communications and a focus on Organizational Communications. Born in Mexico City and raised in Charlotte, NC she considers this city her home and has seen Charlotte grow over the years. She is passionate about finding creative ways of connecting community members with resources, creating awareness through artistic outlets, as well as oral and digital storytelling. 

Yakita Rodriguez

Case Worker

Yakita Rodriguez is a Legal Caseworker who joined in January of 2023. Prior to joining CMN, Yakita held roles in Catawba County providing bilingual administrative support following the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 she held an internship with the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area in D.C. and Silver Springs. There, she was able to gain experience advocating for refugees and immigrants resettling in the area. She is a first-generation graduate with a Bachelors in Political Science from Lenoir-Rhyne University ’21. Yakita grew up in Galax, VA with her family who immigrated to the U.S. from both Guatemala and Honduras, sparking her passion for helping the refugee and immigrant community. She now resides in Granite Falls, NC where outside of work, you will find her in the gym, outdoors, or in a book.

Mary Jose Espinoza

Monarca Fellowship Coordinator

Mary Jose Espinosa (she/her/ella) is joining the Carolina Migrant Network team to support the inaugural Monarca Fellowship Cohort. She brings over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector across various capacities and focus areas, including: ICE rapid response, immigrants’ rights advocacy, civic engagement efforts across North Carolina, and health equity in the wake of the COVID pandemic within BIPOC and historically marginalized communities. Her work with community organizing began at the age of 15 when she co-founded a youth advocacy group for immigrants’ rights and ultimately led her to the Highlander Research and Education Center, where she supported the development of curricula and coordinated the Seeds of Fire Living Legacy tour alongside staff. Growing up in a mixed-status family, Mary Jose was able to experience the injustices immigrant communities faced firsthand. Her advocacy efforts led her to meet and connect with other social justice movements and like-minded individuals that were also passionate about equity.

Prior to joining NC Counts Coalition, Mary Jose worked on civic engagement efforts with a focus on Latinx voters in North Carolina. She coordinated non-partisan Get Out the Vote canvassing efforts, voter registration, voter education and supported the creation of statewide voter education materials from 2017-2020.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and pets, playing video games with her friends, and camping in the mountains.