(707) 523-1740 | Fax (707) 523-1735 vidas@vidaslegal.org

About Us

Our Mission

To serve, empower, and educate immigrants by providing quality low-cost immigration legal services and promoting community action.

Accomplishments

VIDAS has produced two DACA fairs, at which qualified applicants have completed applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, obtaining work permits, Social Security numbers, and as of the beginning of 2015, qualifying for California Drivers Licenses.

VIDAS has co-sponsored several Information Forums, open to the community, regarding the new Executive order which should eventually lead to a Deferred Action program for the parents of those qualified for DACA. VIDAS also presented forums on the new California Driver License law.

VIDAS has obtained visas for dozens of applicants, mounted removal defense actions, and obtained residency (green cards) for many Special Immigrant Juveniles.

Our History

VIDAS was founded in 2014 by immigration attorney Richard Coshnear. Prior to creating the non-profit, his immigration law practice had successfully helped hundreds of people negotiate the complexities of immigration law. However, Rick believed that the new nonprofit organization would allow expansion of the legal services offered, enable continued low fees, and permit the new organization to engage in education efforts related to immigration law. Examples of this include information sessions on the new provisions for California Driver Licenses, new developments in Deferred Action (DACA and DAPA), and planned Citizenship classes.

Staff Members

Suzy Beccera

Suzy Beccera

Paralegal/Bookkeeper

Living undocumented in the United States for almost a decade, Suzy Becerra understands the needs of the immigrant community first hand. In 2008, she connected with the Comite for immigrants Rights of Sonoma County, and there she not only found an outlet to live her values, but also the support of comrades and allies. When the opportunity came to transition the Law Office of Richard Coshnear into a non-profit Organization, “VIDAS”, she did not hesitate to get involved. Suzy’s ambition has been to make immigration services available to the undocumented community, and through those services, work toward organizing a united community, which moves into action to change unfair laws.

Luis Bravo

Luis Bravo

Paralegal

An immigrant from Mexico, I arrived to the U.S. at the age of 9 along with my parents. Thanks to my family’s support I was able to go the the Santa Rosa Junior College and then to Sonoma State University. I majored in Sociology and minored in Political Science from Sonoma State. I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Counseling there. I value and strive for social justice, equitable educational opportunities, and mutual responsibility. I like helping people and making a difference one person at a time.

Richard L. Coshnear

Richard L. Coshnear

Staff Attorney, Immigration

Richard began his work with immigrant concerns in the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s and the efforts to end U.S. war against the peoples of Central America, while also active in the Sonoma County Industrial Union, the Committee for Solidarity with the People of Mexico, STOP 187, Pueblos Unidos, and the United Farmworkers local. In 2003, he started a private practice in immigration, criminal and employment law. In 2006, he helped form the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County, which organized the largest civil rights marches in county history; sued the Sheriff and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] for racial profiling and unlawful use of ICE holds; and helped win organizing victories to diminish collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE, resulting in dramatic drops in the number of deportations. Richard has defended against approximately 100 removals, and assisted hundreds of others with affirmative applications to improve their immigration status. He is most proud of his use of the suppression remedy – exclusion of unlawfully obtained evidence – to win termination of removal proceedings against racially profiled persons. With paralegals Sandra Valencia, Marina Ordonez and Suzy Becerra, he started the conversion of the private law practice into the non-profit VIDAS and the conversion of the Committee for Immigrant Rights into Comitè VIDA.

Marina Ordoñez

Marina Ordoñez

Paralegal

My passion for human rights began at a young age while growing up in El Salvador. I lived through a military dictatorship and the early years of the civil war. I witnessed the suffering of innocent people. Their basic human rights were violated and especially the most important of all: the right to live. Over 75,000 people were killed, hundreds of thousands were displaced and over a million Salvadorians fled the country during the 1980s. I was one of them. I fled El Salvador with my infant daughter and we came to this country as refugees. We were granted political asylum and the opportunity to stay here, allowed me to help other immigrants to navigate the complicated path towards a change of status in this country and I have been involved in the immigrants struggle since then. In 2013 a group of passionate people and myself founded VIDAS to be able to provide services to all immigrants and advocate for a just immigration reform that would focus on family reunification.

Sandra Valencia

Sandra Valencia

Paralegal

Sandra Valencia, an immigrant from Mexico, has served the immigrant community as a paralegal for the Law Office of Richard Coshnear and now for VIDAS, for approximately seven years. She understands the needs and concerns of the immigrant community and advocates for her clients. Sandra enjoys her work and loves witnessing the positive difference she makes in people’s lives through VIDAS.

Board Members

Luis Bravo

Luis Bravo

Board Treasurer

An immigrant from Mexico, I arrived to the U.S. at the age of 9 along with my parents. Thanks to my family’s support I was able to go the the Santa Rosa Junior College and then to Sonoma State University. I majored in Sociology and minored in Political Science from Sonoma State. I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Counseling there. I value and strive for social justice, equitable educational opportunities, and mutual responsibility. I like helping people and making a difference one person at a time.

Mike Drayton

Mike Drayton

Board President

As a teacher of English as a Second Language at Santa Rosa Junior College, Mike learned about many of the special difficulties faced by his undocumented students, and as a result, enthusiastically joined the VIDAS board in 2014. Previously, he worked for three decades in manufacturing, and taught for 10 years in a machinist apprenticeship program here in Sonoma County. Mike’s hope is to enable VIDAS to grow in size and scope as a force for the empowerment of immigrant communities in Northern California.

Yolanda Solano

Yolanda Solano

Board Secretary

Mark Weinberger

Mark Weinberger

Board Vice President