Marielena Hincapié

Immigration Lawyer & Advocate

Marielena Hincapié is making the case for an America in which everyone, including low-income immigrants, feels they belong and can find freedom to thrive.

Marielena Hincapié grew up as the youngest of 10 children in a working-class family that immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. As a child, she would often serve as an interpreter, helping her parents and their co-workers navigate schools, hospitals, and government agencies, where she saw the structural barriers and inequities facing immigrants and people of color firsthand.

Those experiences set Hincapié on a path to become an attorney, focusing on issues of poverty, labor, and migration. In her current role as the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, Hincapié has been a key architect of many of the biggest national campaigns for immigrant justice of our time — from challenging the Muslim ban, to protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, recipients.

Today, she is leading NILC through a moment of unprecedented national crisis. “COVID-19 has shown us what many of us already knew: that immigrants are essential,” she says. “Now, we need to co-author a new story of us, which recognizes that immigrants always have been, are, and will continue to be essential to the American story.”