Efrén C. Olivares is the Deputy Legal Director of the Immigrant Justice Project at Southern Poverty Law Center. He was the lead lawyer in a successful landmark petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of families separated under the Zero Tolerance policy. He previously directed the Racial and Economic Justice Program at the Texas Civil Rights project. In July 2018, wanting to amplify the voices to these families, he published an op-ed in the New York Times, “A Day in the Life of a Lawyer at the Border,” chronicling his work. His writings on immigration policy have also been published by USA Today and Newsweek, and he has testified before Congress and at briefings on Capitol Hill about immigration and border policy issues. Part of his work representing separated families was featured in the CBS News Documentary “The Faces of Family Separation,” released in October 2019. He has also been interviewed as an expert attorney on immigrants’ rights issues on numerous TV and radio shows, and was featured in John Legend’s “Can’t Just Preach” series.
After migrating to the United States from Mexico at the age of 13, Olivares was the first member of his family to attend college. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School.