Christina Mansfield and Christina Fialho (2020)

Founders, Freedom for Immigrants Organization

Read the New Frontier Award® announcement


Christina Mansfield is the co-executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, formerly Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), which she co-founded with Christina Fialho in 2012 to abolish immigration detention. Christina is a cultural anthropologist, scholar, and activist for social justice.

Christina has worked to introduce several laws in California focused on curtailing and regulating the private prison industry, such as The Dignity Not Detention Act, passed in 2017.  Christina has served as an expert witness before the Local Government Committee of the California Assembly and the Public Safety Committee of the California Senate.

As the granddaughter of immigrants, Christina’s vision for Freedom for Immigrants is shaped by her own family’s diverse immigrant history and her academic research on the criminalization of immigrant communities.  Christina believes that in order to abolish U.S. immigration detention we have to excavate the various histories that have led us to imprison human beings for profit.

Christina Fialho is the co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), a national nonprofit devoted to abolishing immigration detention. Christina is an attorney, and she has spent over 15 years advocating for immigrants. She comes from three generations of immigrants from the Azores and Madeira Islands, autonomous regions of Portugal. While in law school, Christina started the first immigration detention visitation program in California with her co-founder, Christina Mansfield.  

Since then, she has worked with her team at Freedom for Immigrants to mobilize a network of watchdog community members that visit weekly at approximately 70 immigration detention facilities, while creating an alternative model to detention that that welcomes immigrants.

Christina also has drafted and passed several laws. In 2017, she helped draft and Freedom for Immigrants co-sponsored the first statewide bill in the country to put a moratorium on immigration detention expansion, the Dignity Not Detention Act in California.

She also helped introduce and pass AB 103 to give California’s Attorney General $10 million to monitor immigration detention facilities (2017) and AB 32 to abolish private prisons in California (2019). In addition, Christina and her team drafted the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act in Congress, introduced in both houses in 2018 and 2019 to put a federal moratorium on detention expansion and fund community-based alternatives. Christina also drafted a House budget amendment introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal that was approved in 2019 to prevent the diversion of funds from other government agencies to ICE for immigration enforcement.

Christina is a leading expert on immigration detention and appears frequently on national television and radio programs. She has been awarded the 2012 Echoing Green Fellowship, 2016 Ashoka Fellowship, and 2018 James Irvine Leadership Award in recognition of her innovation and entrepreneurship. She served as the first Social Entrepreneur in Residence at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management, she was appointed to the California Bar Association’s first Civil Justice Strategies Task Force. In 2017, she was featured in Grammy-winning artist Miguel’s music video “Now” about immigration, and in 2019, her organization was featured in Season 7 of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black.

Acceptance Speech