Mr. Elvis Cintra and his wife, Victoria Cintra, have served MIRA since late 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, leaving them and countless other immigrant families homeless. While other Coastal families were attempting to distance themselves as far away from the harm and destruction being experienced, Elvis and his wife answered the call to return from refuge to help thousands of immigrants who had been unlawfully evicted from emergency shelters and denied emergency benefits. Victoria, or Vicky, was hired to MIRA’s staff and Elvis remained fighting tirelessly at her side as an interpreter, a comforter and a friend for the predominantly Spanish-speaking victims. He helped organize phone calls, meetings and demonstrations where necessary, to pressure abusive employers to pay immigrant workers who had been abandoned and robbed of their wages during the reconstruction of hundreds of homes, businesses and entire communities after the storm. Elvis assisted MIRA in recovering more than $1 million in stolen wages and unsettled money judgments and workers compensation benefits through his community organizing and mobilization efforts.
Elvis has championed the need for unity among communities of color and across ethnicities throughout Mississippi. He has provided radio and print interviews to keep the general public aware of the needs and concerns of a very vulnerable population in Mississippi – immigrant families and workers. He is a creative thinker, self-motivated and a coalition-builder for the good of the entire community. He is a spiritual individual, also committed to serving his community through his church on the Gulf Coast.
In 2008 MIRA responded to a crisis among documented, undocumented and U.S. Citizen Latino families who were targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during a raid on Howard Industries in Laurel, Mississippi. The impact was felt by thousands of individuals in Mississippi and across Latin America. Elvis helped frightened immigrants contact detained workers and visit imprisoned family members while immigration cases were (and remain) pending. He helped distribute more than $40,000, raised by MIRA to pay the utilities, rent, food, and medical expenses of stranded spouses and children.
Elvis has continued to provide support for MIRA’s work for nearly four (4) years, three (3) as a Board member, giving a voice to the countless Latino families who experience discrimination because of their language, country of origin, and perceived immigration status. He is an outstanding community mobilizer with the respect of his peers and community because of his large and tender heart for those who are vulnerable and sometimes helpless. .
Indeed, Mr. Cintra has surpassed his commitment as a Board Member of MIRA, inspiring our staff and volunteers to remain principled and dedicated in our fight for the human rights of vulnerable communities. He has worked under very challenging and excruciating difficulties, including his own physical disabilities, yet he has never demanded attention nor recognition.