Meet Christina Mansfield 

Christina is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Freedom for Immigrants

CM Headshot.jpg

Christina 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.  She is a cultural anthropologist, trained in applied and advocacy research that is attentive to power dynamics, such as Participatory Action Research. She was awarded the 2012 Echoing Green Fellowship in recognition of her innovation and entrepreneurship. She also is a recipient of the 2018 James Irvine Leadership Award and the 2013 Rockwood Fellowship for a New California.

Christina’s vision for Freedom for Immigrants is shaped by her own interracial and immigrant family history and her academic research on the criminalization of immigrant communities.

Prior to starting Freedom for Immigrants, Christina worked as an assistant to the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir. As part of this work, she traveled to Nepal and India to bear witness to issues of cultural survival and human rights. Christina also attended the World Congress on Enforced Disappearances in Bogota, Colombia in 2010. There she studied instances of state-sponsored enforced disappearance from experts across the globe in order to relate these practices to immigration policies in the United States, where thousands of immigrants disappear into the immigration detention system every day.

In 2010 and 2011, Christina was awarded the California Institute of Integral Studies’ Social Justice and Community Research Grant to conduct an independent research project in Tucson, Arizona, on Operation Streamline – a program that orders federal criminal charges for every person who crosses the border without documentation. This research engaged multiple stakeholders and laid the foundation for her understanding of the needs of immigrants in detention and her advocacy work.  Upon her return to California, she co-founded the first visitation program in the state with Christina Fialho at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.


Christina has worked to introduce several laws in California, which CIVIC co-sponsored, such as a bill to regulate the prison phone industry, the video visitation industry, and the ability of the private prisons to contract in California. 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.

In addition to her policy work, Christina's degree in Cultural Anthropology is applied to CIVIC's award-winning storytelling work. She works to provide people in immigration detention with a platform to share their stories and educate the public. While CIVIC's storytelling work is focused on the lives of immigrants in the present, each storytelling project links present struggles for justice to similar struggles of the past. Christina works to create an archive of the present for future generations to learn about subaltern histories that are often forgotten.

Christina graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, and she completed her M.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation at the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2009.


Christina’s education continues through her dissertation research, which is focused on current anti-immigrant legislation and its relation to antebellum slave laws. Her interest in tracing the historical oppression of African Americans in the United States stems from her understanding of how African American and immigrant communities are similarly criminalized in the present. Christina studies techniques of social control common to both periods, such as the denial of citizenship and legal status, and the criminalization of migration.

She hopes this genealogy will shed light on how to resist legacies of oppression in the present through alliance building.

Selected Publications:

Poets and Artists Expose the Failure of Immigration Detention, The Hill, April 2016.

Immigration policies are criminalizing our communities, San Francisco Bay View, December 2014.


Christina Mansfield is available for media interviews and select speaking engagements. To inquire about her availability, please email