Staff|El Personal

Volunteer Spotlight

The Community Immigration Law Center is fortunate to have a great network of supportive volunteers, some of which are featured below. If you are interested in learning how you can get involved, email to see if there are any opportunities available!

Karen Perez-Wilson

My name is Karen Pérez-Wilson and I began volunteering at CILC in the spring of 2017. As a UW student, I was able to enroll in a directed study course under the mentorship of a UW faculty member. I had taken a class with this professor before and was interested in his field of study:   immigration and crime. For my curriculum, I had the opportunity to work with Aissa every week for a couple of hours and helped with removal defense. Aissa gave me the liberty to help with anything I thought would be beneficial to my learning. Within the first week, I was helping her draft legal documents and was conducting research on country conditions. In the past, I have also assisted by accompanying individuals to their court hearing in Chicago and sitting with them in court. 

I continued to do this work over the course of three semesters and plan to continue volunteering at CILC after I graduate from UW in May. The experience I have gained in this office has only reinforced my passion for immigration law and advocacy. I have gained mentors, friends, and learned more than I ever imagined in the time span I was there. I am thankful for the Community Immigration Law Center and look forward to working with them to ensure everyone has access to proper legal representation.  






Aissa Olivarez, Staff Attorney

Aissa Olivarez is the Staff Attorney at the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC). She joined CILC in August 2017 and as a part of the organization provides deportation defense. Aissa has represented many clients in removal and bond proceedings, and appeals.

Prior to joining CILC, Aissa was a Staff Attorney at the Pro Bono Asylum Representation Children’s Project (ProBAR), where she represented unaccompanied minor children who were placed in removal proceedings by the Department of Homeland Security in Harlingen, Texas. During law school, Aissa participated in the Immigrant Justice Clinic and the Defenders Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School. In September 2018, Aissa was awarded the Belle Case LaFollette Award by the Wisconsin Law Foundation for her work with under-served communities.

Aissa earned her B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. She was a first grade teacher for 4 years in the Austin Independent School District before deciding to pursue her law degree. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in May 2016, where she was an active leader in the Student Bar Association and served as president of the Latinx Law Student  Association. During her tenure at UW, she received accolades such as the Barbara B. Crabb Prize, the LLSA Comunidad Award, the Ray and Ethel Brown Award, the Public Interest Scholar Award as well as the Children’s Justice Project Fellowship, among others. Aissa lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and daughter.

Vanessa Avila, Staff Attorney

Vanessa Avila is a Staff Attorney at the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC). She joined CILC in July 2019 to assist with deportation defense. Vanessa graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2019. Prior to joining CILC, Vanessa was a paralegal at various immigration nonprofits in Southern California. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in History and Spanish. Vanessa lives in Madison, Wisconsin.