Al Otro Lado



Los Angeles, CA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:





Illegal Immigration Advocacy Group

Chief Executive Officer:

Nora Phillips

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Al Otro Lado (“To the Other Side”) is a center-left immigration advocacy organization based in Los Angeles, California. The group provides low cost or pro bono legal representation and healthcare services to individuals living illegally in the United States or seeking entry into the United States, primarily in Tijuana, Mexico. The organization has filed lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection under the Trump administration, which it criticizes for supposedly offering “a public, full-throated and racially-discriminatory defense” of policies that limit ineligible non-citizens from applying for U.S. asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.1


Al Otro Lado (“To the Other Side”) was formed in Los Angeles, California in December 2014 and received its tax-exemption from the IRS in April 2015. 2 The group notes that it is “bi-national,” with affiliates in Mexico. Al Otro Lado provides low-cost or pro bono legal services to recent immigrants, immigrants living in the United States illegally, and non-Americans seeking asylum in the United States. The group was initially started in 2012 as a joint project between immigration attorneys Nora Phillips and Esmeralda Flores. It has also aided caravans of Central American migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally with legal support.3


Al Otro Lado manages a number of immigration projects.

Border Rights Project

Through its Border Rights Project, Al Otro Lado provides pro bono “know-your-rights training and legal orientation workshops” to recent immigrants living in Southern California, including illegal immigrants detained by U.S. federal agents. The pro bono legal services are at least in part administered by lawyers provided by staff and students from the University of California Irvine (UCI), University of Southern California (USC), and University of California Hastings (UCH). 4 Al Otro Lado has managed as many as “several dozen attorneys and over 100 clients” in its clinics.5

The project also claims to document what it claims are “human rights violations” against would-be asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border; Al Otro Lado claims that its data has been cited by a number of left-wing human rights activist groups, including Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International. 6

Rigo Martinez administers the Border Rights Project.7

Al Otro Lado is involved in providing services to deportees from the United States who entered the country illegally. Through its Medical-Legal Partnership with the Wellness Center in Los Angeles (which shares the same address as Al Otro Lado), the groups provide custody issue support as well as housing, legal representation, and health services. Ricardo Diaz, a paralegal, administers the Medical-Legal Partnership.8

Al Otro Lado’s legal services for deportees includes assistance in obtaining identity documents, health coverage, educational resources, and employment opportunities in Tijuana, Mexico. The Deportee Program assists deportees in trying to return legally to the United States.9

Support for Illegal Immigrant Caravans

For more information on the 2018 illegal migrant caravans, see Pueblo Sin Fronteras

While Al Otro Lado does not engage in organizing caravans of migrants from Central America seeking to enter the U.S. and Mexico illegally, Al Otro Lado staff and officers have assisted caravan members with legal services and support in Mexico.

In November 2018, refugee program director Nicole Ramos aided in at least 5 same-sex marriages in Tijuana between members of the “Central American Exodus” (one name given to the caravans by supporters), which were performed by Unitarian Universalist ministers. Ramos wrote, “Today the world saw that love cannot be stopped . . . not by any wall or borderline.”10

Ramos is critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. During an April 2018 interview with NPR, she criticized U.S. asylum policies for not accepting migrants on economic grounds:11

Unfortunately, this administration has a very loose grasp on what the law actually says. Economic migrants – you don’t qualify for asylum if you are leaving your country because you’re not able to feed your family. That is not a category by which you will receive an asylum. And that’s unfortunate, but that is the law. And statements to that effect are done to rile a white nationalist base that fears foreign bodies coming in and taking things which they believe are rightfully theirs.

Al Otro Lado and the National Lawyers Guild, a radical-left litigation group, have also mobilized “support for [the] Central American refugee caravan at [the] Mexico-U.S. border.” In a November 2018 press release, Nicole Ramos criticized the Trump administration for its “refusal to prepare to receive refugees,” creating “a humanitarian crisis in Tijuana and other Mexican border cities.”12

Al Otro Lado has released at least one statement alongside Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a far-left activist group responsible for co-organizing caravans of migrants to enter the U.S. and Mexico illegally. The groups accused U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for what it deemed the “institutional murder of Roxana Hernandez,” a transgender Honduran migrant traveling with the April 2018 migrant caravan “with Pueblo Sin Fronteras.” In the statement, the groups called for “the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” “an end to U.S. intervention in the immigration policies of other countries,” and “the closure of all immigration detention centers” in the U.S. 13

Al Otro Lado has been described as a “mediator between Pueblo Sin Fronteras and the [caravan] migrants.”14


As of February 2019, Al Otro Lado is a plaintiff in at least two class-action lawsuits related to border security and law enforcement.

Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen (2017)

Al Otro Lado et al. v. Kirstjen Nielsen (filed November 13, 2017), formerly Al Otro Lado et al. v John F. Kelly, is a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (headed by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and formerly by Secretary John F. Kelly) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (headed by Commissioner Kevin McAleenan). Al Otro Lado is the client of counselors from a number of left-wing litigation groups, including the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)American Immigration Council (AIC), and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP. 15 The plaintiffs claim the CBP perpetrated “abusive immigration practices,” “LGBTQI persecution,” and “sexual and gender-based violence” against individuals seeking asylum in the United States from their countries of origin, mainly in Central America. Al Otro Lado further asserts that CBP denied non-citizens from applying for asylum, criticizing President Trump for his administration’s supposed “significant antipathy to the fundamental humanitarian principles embodied in asylum laws.” CBP maintains that the non-citizens are not eligible for asylum in the United States under current law. All plaintiffs represented in the class-action lawsuits are citizens of Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. 16

Counsel for Al Otro Lado in the case are Center for Constitutional Rights legal director Baher Azmy, an attorney who has provided legal assistance to detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp; CCR senior staff attorney Ghita Schwartz, who has provided counsel to lawsuits against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and CCR staff attorney Angelo Guisado.17 18 19

CBP maintains that it is “not denying or discouraging travelers from seeking asylum or any other form of protection” in the United States.20

As of November 29, 2018, the defendants have filed a motion to dismiss part of the complaint.21

Gonzalez v. CoreCivic (2018)

Al Otro Lado claims it is co-counsel in the class-action lawsuit Gonzalez v. CoreCivic, a private prison company, filed in February 2018. The plaintiffs accused CoreCivic of making “a mockery of the [U.S.] Constitution” with “forced labor camps.” The plaintiff, Martha Gonzalez, was paid by CoreCivic during her detention to perform menial labor, such as cleaning floors, preparing detainee meals, and performing clerical work for CoreCivic; she claims she was “forced” to perform these duties under threat of “confinement, physical restraint, substantial and sustained restrictions, deprivation, violation of [her] liberty, and solitary confinement,” conditions she maintains were “draconian and harsh.” 22



Nora Phillips is the chief executive officer and legal director of Al Otro Lado, and is the group’s co-founder. Phillips previously worked as a staff attorney for the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), a left-of-center litigation nonprofit that has lobbied for left-wing comprehensive immigration reform to expand the DREAM Act and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S.23 24 CARECEN receives grants from a number of left-wing foundations and activist groups, including George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (formerly Open Society Institute), the California Endowment, and UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza).25 Phillips maintains her own law firm, Phillips & Urias LLP.26

Esmeralda Flores is co-founder of Al Otro Lado. Prior to founding Al Otro Lado, Flores was an attorney for Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional (Binational Defense and Advocacy Program), a Mexico-based immigration advocacy group closely associated with the center-left American Immigration Council. Flores currently serves as binational outreach associate for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.27 28


Jose Arce is chief financial officer of Al Otro Lado. Arce is a former gang member who was deported to his home country of Mexico in 2007 after a “firearm conviction.” Arce was incarcerated by U.S. immigration officials after he attempted to illegally reenter the United States and deported again in 2010.29

Erika Pinheiro serves as board secretary and the policy and technology director for Al Otro Lado. Pinheiro has conducted trainings on DACA for government agencies and previously worked for CARECEN.30

Board of Directors and Staff

Besides Nora Phillips, Jose Arce, and Erika Pinheiro, the Al Otro Lado board of directors includes Martine Jean, an attorney and filmmaker; Nicole Ramos, director of the group’s refugee program; Ricardo Diaz, a paralegal; Rigo Martinez, an assistant to the refugee program; and Jose Mares, Tijuana coordinator for the deportee program.31 32


While Al Otro Lado’s receipts remain relatively small, its annual revenues have grown substantially since the group’s creation in 2014-2015. In 2015, Al Otro Lado reported $2,701 in revenues; in 2016, $4,960 in revenues; in 2017, $61,724 in revenues. 33


  1. Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen.” Scribd. November 9, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  2. “Al Otro Lado: Determination Letter.” Internal Revenue Service (IRS). April 15, 2015. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  3. “Who We Are.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  4. “Border Rights Project.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed Febraury 12, 2019.
  5. Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen.” Scribd. November 9, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  6. “Border Rights Project.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed Febraury 12, 2019.
  7. “Border Rights Project.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed Febraury 12, 2019.
  8. “Medical-Legal Partnership.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  9. “Deportee Program.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  10. Al Otro Lado. Instagram. November 18, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  11. “Migrant Caravan Nears U.S. Border.” NPR (transcript). April 29, 2019. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  12. “Press Release: NLG & Al Otro Lado Mobilizing Legal Support for Central American Refugee Caravan at Mexico-US Border.” November 20, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  13. “Press Release: Statement by Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Al Otro Lado and Diversidad Sin Fronteras on The Institutional Murder of Roxana Hernandez.” Retrieved on Facebook. May 29, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2019. Original URL:; also available here:
  14. Bethany Blankley. “Migrant mother says she was “forced” to join caravan organized by Soros-funded organization.” November 30, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  15. “Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen.” Center for Constitutional Rights. November 13, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  16. Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen.” Scribd. November 9, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  17. “Baher Azmy.” Center for Constitutional Rights. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  18. “Ghita Schwartz.” Center for Constitutional Rights. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  19. “Angelo Guisado.” Center for Constitutional Rights. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  20. Aline Barrios. “Lawsuit Challenges US Border Turnbacks, Metering.” Voice of America News. December 3, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  21. “Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen.” Center for Constitutional Rights. November 13, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2019.
  22. Gonzalez v. CoreCivic Inc.” U.S. District Court Western District of Texas Austin Division (via Courthouse News). Filed February 22, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  23. “Advocacy: Supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” CARECEN. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  24. “Who We Are.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  25. “CARECEN.” Information provided by Accessed February 14, 2019.
  26. “Our Board of Directors.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  27. Guillermo Cantor. “U.S. Immigration Officials Frequently Use Coercive Tactics to Deport Mexican Migrants.” Immigration Impact. September 20, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  28. “Who We Are.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  29. “Our Board of Directors.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  30. “Our Board of Directors.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  31. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-EZ). Al Otro Lado (2017). Part IV (List of Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees).
  32. “Our Staff.” Al Otro Lado. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  33. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-EZ). Al Otro Lado (2017). Part III, Section A (Public Support).
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2015

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    Al Otro Lado

    1200 State St
    Los Angeles, CA 90033