Michael K. Mehr
Michael K. Mehr, ESQ., B.A. 1973, University of California, Santa Cruz (with honors); J.D., 1976, University of San Francisco School of Law. Mr. Mehr is an attorney in private practice in Santa Cruz, California who has practiced removal defense and post-conviction relief since 1979. He is coauthor of Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit: Impact of Crimes Under California and Other State Laws (10th ed 2008 ILRC) by Katherine A. Brady, Norton Tooby and Angie Junck and a co-author of “Representing the Noncitizen Criminal Defendant” in California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice (Cal CEB 2008-2019).
He is a frequent lecturer at CLE programs including AILA National and California conventions. He was the expert witness in People v. Bautista (2004) 115 CA4th 229 (failure to defend against immigration consequences may be ineffective assistance of counsel) and counsel for the petitioner in Negrete-Ramirez v. Holder, 741 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir 2014) (INA §212(h) waiver not barred for aggravated felons admitted post entry). Mr. Mehr frequently mentors attorneys on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions on listserves, CLE lectures, and webinars. He is a prolific author of amicus briefs on crim-imm issues, and has helped draft and pass legislation in California bringing some equity to noncitizen criminal defendants, notably P.C. §1203.43 (withdrawal of plea for certain minor drug convictions based on misinformation) and amending P.C. §1000 (pre-plea diversion for minor drug offenses).
Partner - Attorney
Isabel Soto graduated from the Methodist University of Sao Paulo and Santa Clara University - School of Law.
Isabel was born and raised in Brazil to immigrant parents from Bolivia. She has exclusively worked representing clients in removal defense and family-based immigration cases from the beginning of her career as an attorney. Isabel is a member of the California State Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Isabel is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Isabel has vast experience working with complex immigrant visa, adjustment of status, citizenship, and waiver matters, including representing clients with criminal issues and convictions. She also represents immigrants in detained and non-detained removal proceedings.
As an immigrant, Isabel is passionate and dedicated to immigrants’ rights and personally understands the challenges faced by the immigrant community. She is active in community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Isabel is the current Chapter liaison for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Santa Clara Valley Chapter. She was also the co-founder of CLARO, a non-profit organization located in San Jose, California, which promotes immigrants’ rights and education by providing pro-bono consultations and workshops for undocumented individuals.
Isabel has made numerous television media appearances in English and Spanish, discussing immigration issues and developments with Telemundo, NBC Universal, and Univision.
Ruth Mehr is Office Manager for Mehr & Soto, LLP. Ruth emigrated to the U.S from Israel in 1986 and has been married to Mike Mehr for the past 33 years. As the daughter to a family of immigrants from Morocco, Ruth always supported her husband’s work for justice and civil rights throughout his career. She has always been passionate about client service, strategic planning, efficient operations, and strong communications between team members. Ruth has a Bachelor’s of Arts, Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Masters of Arts, Teaching a Foreign Language Degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Ruth joined the Mehr law office team in January of 2018.
Ewelina Jasnowska is a Polish lawyer with over eight years experience in several law firms in Poland, Spain, and Uruguay. She emigrated to the United States in 2020 and joined our practice in April 2023.
As an immigrant and a Polish lawyer who personally underwent the legal process of adjustment of status, Ewelina became an integral part of our mission to provide assistance that makes positive change in people’s lives. She shares the values that guide every immigration attorney: a commitment to social justice, impartiality, neutrality, and independence. Her service reveals her deep connection to the work and the dedication she holds for equality and social responsibility.
Additionally, Ewelina has been a volunteer in a local non-profit organization providing immigration legal services related to citizenship applications to low-income clientele in Santa Cruz County. Also, after emigrating to the United States, she has gained some criminal law experience while working with the local criminal defense attorneys.
She is a former member of Judicial Officers Bar Association in Poland and Co-author of a legal exam study guide book published in Poland: Judicial Officer, Final Legal Exam. Case Studies 2018.
Ewelina speaks Polish, English, and Spanish.
Jose Mena-Tapia is currently finishing his last year at the California State University of Monterey Bay (CSUMB) with a major in Social and Behavioral Sciences and minor in pre-law. He has 4+ years of experience in immigration law. Prior to working at the office, he was an DOJ Accredited Representative working on immigration cases such as adjustment of status, citizenship, and U-Visa. He also volunteered, completed multiple internships, and partnered up with multiple organizations in the Monterey County to better assist the local immigrant community. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Jose has always been passionate about providing legal assistance to immigrant families since he went through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen himself, being born in Mexico. He understands first-hand the struggles that many immigrant families face in the United States. He continues to pursue his dream of becoming an immigration attorney in the future. “Being able to help the immigrant community is the goal, doing it for a career is a privilege.”
Alexia Figueroa has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has worked as a paralegal in complex criminal and family immigration related cases for the last 6 years. Prior to working at the law office she worked as an advocate for survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
As a daughter of immigrants, she knows first-hand the struggles that many immigrant families face in the Unities States. Her passion for immigrant rights and immigration law grew from her life experience as a first generation Mexican American.
Katherine Brady with Norton Tooby, Michael K. Mehr, and Angie Junck,Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit: Impact of Crimes under California and Other State Laws (Immigrant Legal Resource Center, 10th Ed. 2008)
Hon. Dana Leigh Marks, Michael K. Mehr, and Norton Tooby, “Representing the Noncitizen Criminal Defendant,” Ch. 52, California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice, (CEB 2008)
Michael Mehr and Vicki Firstman, “Vacating Convictions Resulting from Guilty Pleas Based on Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Related to Immigration Consequencs,” for Sixth District Appellate Program Seminar 2005
Michael has prevailed in four published Ninth Circuit cases. In Covarrubias v. Holder, 623 F.3d 1094 (9th Cir. 2010), the Court found that California Penal Code section 246 is not categorically a crime of violence. In Saavedra-Figueroa v. Holder, No. 05-75210 (9th Cir., November 5, 2010)the Court held that a misdemeanor conviction for false imprisonment under California Penal Code section 236 was not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude. In Sanchez-Avalos v. Holder, 693 F.3d 1011 (9th Cir. 2012) the Court held that the age-neutral offense of sexual battery cannot be considered sexual abuse of a minor. Most recently, in Negrete-Ramirez v. Holder, the Court held that the prohibition on 212(h) relief for lawful permanent residents cannot apply to those who adjusted status within the United States.