Besides her work in providing individual immigration services, Vera has been a longtime activist in immigrant rights and has helped to establish organizations and programs to further that work.
Vera Weisz in the Community
Vera has been honored by the National Lawyers Guild and other professional legal organizations and continues to be regarded as a champion for immigrants everywhere.
Currently, she is helping cement the success of Court Watch, a watchdog program that monitors the immigration courts to make sure they guarantee immigrants due process.
This program allows university students to get first-hand social justice experience as they sit in and report on immigration court hearings.
Vera's dedication to the immigrant struggle rose out of her personal experience. She was born in Colombia in 1952 to Hungarian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who emigrated to Colombia in the aftermath of WWII. Growing up, Vera developed a strong pride in her roots but also learned to appreciate diversity. Her family moved to the United States when she was 11.
Among her victories, Tampubolon v. Holder, decided in the U.S. Ninth Circuit in 2010, held that Christians in Indonesia are a “disfavored group,” and that fact must be taken into consideration in deciding a claim to fight deportation.
Vera was present at the founding of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), providing consultations to refugee clients, community presentations, citizenship workshops, and legal or advocacy brainstorming sessions.
Vera has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association and is former chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Immigration Law Section.
She is a founding member of Immigrants’ List, a bipartisan political action committee supporting candidates for Congress who advocate for immigrant rights.
After obtaining her law degree in 1977, Vera Weisz went worked first for the nonprofit Florida Rural Legal Services and then the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, where she developed her advocacy skills through community activism, litigation of class action lawsuits, and individual representation of Haitian refugees fleeing Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s dictatorship.
Later, Vera returned to Los Angeles to work with the National Center for Immigrant Rights, where she worked on class action lawsuits. Among them was what eventually became Orantes-Hernandez v. Holder, which established certain rights of Salvadoran nationals in immigration detention.
In the following years, she established her own legal practice dedicated to removal defense, asylum, family immigration petitions, and complex immigration cases.