Skip to main content Accessibility

Efrén C. Olivares

Director of Strategic Litigation and Advocacy
Efrén C. Olivares

Efrén C. Olivares is the director of strategic litigation and advocacy. He leads legal and technical experts dedicated to developing and executing innovative litigation and advocacy to advance social justice.

He previously served as the deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, focusing on ending immigrant detention, including through pro bono legal representation to detained immigrants in the Deep South, advancing workers’ rights and guaranteeing access to the asylum process.

Olivares is an accomplished civil rights lawyer who has represented clients before federal courts and international human rights bodies for nearly two decades. He was previously at the Texas Civil Rights Project, where he served as the lead attorney in a landmark petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of families separated under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

Olivares’ writings on immigration policy have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today and Newsweek. He has testified before Congress and at Capitol Hill briefings. His work was featured in the CBS News documentary The Faces of Family Separation. He has been interviewed as an expert attorney on immigrants’ rights issues in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, NPR, CNN and other outlets, as well as numerous TV and radio programs including John Legend’s Can’t Just Preach series. His essay “Law Enforcement and Immigration Enforcement in the Rio Grande Valley” was published in Racism in America: A Reference Handbook in 2020.

His memoir, My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration from the Front Lines, was published in 2022 and received a 2023 International Latino Book Award in the category of best political/current affairs book in English. After migrating to the United States from Mexico at age 13, Olivares was the first member of his family to attend college. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from Yale Law School. He completed a Bernstein Fellowship at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and practiced litigation at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP (now Norton Rose Fulbright). Olivares is a member of the bar in Texas and Georgia and is admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Watch Efren Olivares read excerpts from his book.