AILA Presents Mekela Goehring with the 2013 Arthur C. Helton Memorial Human Rights Award

Thursday, June 27, 2013

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) awarded Mekela Goehring, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, Westminster, CO, with the 2013 Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award for her outstanding service in advancing the cause of human rights. She will receive the award today during AILA's Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA.

Ms. Goehring began working at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) in 2003 as the organization's first detention program staff attorney, giving know-your-rights presentations at the Aurora immigration detention center, coordinating and training pro bono attorneys throughout the state, and representing clients before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

In 2005 she advanced to become RMIAN's executive director, providing steady and visionary leadership, helping the organization grow into a national model in its field and personally helping to safeguard the human rights of thousands of immigrants and refugees through her direct service and pro bono training. Additionally, in 2005, RMIAN implemented a children's program to advocate for abandoned, abused, and unaccompanied immigrant children. This program has been incredibly successful and employed some of the nation's top experts in children's immigration issues.

The hundreds of attorneys that she has inspired, educated, and mentored have provided tens of thousands of hours of pro bono representation for indigent people eligible for relief from immigration removal. She has achieved this through her unlimited and unremitting devotion to this cause. Beginning right out of law school, she led a handful of young attorneys who believed that any challenge could be overcome, and that with commitment and persistence, no task was too daunting. Historically, immigration work has been challenging in the Rocky Mountain West, far from the East and West Coasts where advocacy is more established and publicized. Ms. Goehring deserves the credit for growing immigration legal services in the area into the robust pro bono immigration community that exists today. RMIAN has filled a huge gap in representation for a detained population that is growing steadily.

While she could easily have pursued a more lucrative career, Ms. Goehring has instead chosen to serve a vulnerable population with dedication, perseverance, aggressive advocacy, and a warm heart. She has become a true leader who is a legal advocate, supervisor, fundraiser, policy advocate, public relations manager, and a role model.

Prior to joining RMIAN, she clerked for Judge James S. Casebolt at the Colorado Court of Appeals. Ms. Goehring graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder and earned her J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and was admitted to the Colorado bar in 2002. She has been a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 2003, and serves on the Access to Services Committee of the Colorado Chapter.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13062749.