Born in Bogota, Colombia, Andrea P. Reyes is an Immigration Attorney and owner of Reyes Legal, PLLC located in Jacksonville, Florida. She leads the Northeast Florida Immigrant Resource Alliance (NEFIRA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated exclusively to the advancement of immigrants in Northeast Florida. NEFIRA envisions immigrants participating wholly as citizens of the Northeast Florida community.
“We are a majority-minority city at this point. we bring culture, and culture is something that brings education. It brings power. I have enjoyed seeing that transformation in Jacksonville for a while.”
In the Mix
Charlee Guillaume, a multimedia designer with Mix Theory Studios, interviewed four CEOs in Jacksonville, Florida, who are making a difference in the community. Join us as we discover the non-profit organizations impacting the lives around us for the better. This interview is part of the Nonprofit CEO Segment of In the Mix. Video produced by Charlee Guillaume.
Andrea immigrated at the age of 5 to New York from Bogata, Columbia. She graduated from Florida State University in 2006 with degrees in Psychology and Criminology. In 2012, she graduated Florida Coastal School of Law with Probono Honors and a focus on immigration law. In 2014, she opened her solo practice dedicated exclusively to the field of immigration, and for nearly a decade she has been practicing family-based immigration, humanitarian-based immigration and deportation defense, including asylum and waivers.
Due to her commitment and engagement specifically in the Hispanic immigrant community, Andrea was recently selected as the exclusive “Abogada Titular” in Northeast Florida for the Mexican Consulate in Orlando, with the purpose of serving Mexican nationals in their immigration journey. She also was previously designated as the sole NE Florida Immigration Consultant Attorney for the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) and the Electronic Monitoring Device (EMD) Program under Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) in order to provide Know Your Rights trainings to the program participants.
Her role as an immigration attorney and natural advocate in her community has earned her the title “La Abogada de la Comunidad” as she has dedicated her spare time to community engagement, activism and education.
She works with different churches in Northeast Florida to provide free consultations to immigrant communities and volunteers to provide free Know Your Rights trainings to different cultural groups and community partners that have access to immigrant communities. On the weekends, her firm sponsors community events where she also provides free immigration consultations through different civic programs and fairs.
Based on her experience and knowledge, she has also been invited to speak on immigration matters at rallies and marches. In 2021, she had her own FSCJ TEDx talk titled “No One is Illegal” where she shared her advocacy journey that led her to become today’s attorney.
“I was very heavily involved in marching and protesting, particularly the harsh anti-immigrant policies that were taking place almost like at rapid fire. Every single day I felt like we were under attack for four years…The damage that was done still needs to be undone and there’s still so much more work to do.”
Through NEFIRA’s educational programs, stabilization resources and civic engagement opportunities, immigrants will find a more welcoming and embracing community in NE Florida. By helping immigrants find their pathway to stability, they will be able to live more informed and self-sufficient lives, allowing them to invest time and resources back in their own community, engage civically and eventually vote.
“We want our community to reflect us and we want the policies and the politics to reflect us as well. But we can’t do that, If we don’t change the mindset of how immigrants understand the system, Right?
So there’s a lot of education and a lot of stabilizing that will take place before we can get them civically engaged. But our goal is eventually to get them to vote.”
Since 2017, Andrea has served as a Board of Director in the Central Florida Chapter for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and was the Chair of the Practice Management Committee for over four years. She currently serves as the AILA Jacksonville Regional Vice Chair where she is the liaison to the Jacksonville USCIS Field Office. Through her prior role as Board of Director of the Jacksonville Women’s March and in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Jax, Andrea along with several different community partners, have been presenting the “We are Duval” program as a required curriculum for the JSO Academy. The initiative began in January of 2018 in order to teach the officers at about the city’s diversity, community policing, unconscious bias, and the distrust of vulnerable populations (Black, LGBTQIA+ & Hispanic communities). The goal of “We Are Duval” was for JSO officers to acknowledge, understand, and practice behaviors that would help to improve the livelihoods of minorities and immigrants in surrounding communities. The program is now well into its fifth year with an expanding curriculum. Between 2015 – 2017, Andrea also formally served as an Adjunct Clinical Professor at Florida Coastal School of Law teaching the Interviewing & Counseling Clinic for Human Trafficking Survivors.
To find out more about Andrea and NEFIRA, visit nefira.org.