- Member of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association
- Barred in the State of Florida and the Middle District of Florida
- Was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship as a UF Law graduate
- Drafted and passed County ordinances with new protections in housing for veterans, domestic violence survivors, non-citizens, and legal sources of income.
- Helped revise GPD immigrant interaction and language access policies
- Designed and managed legal clinics serving residents of Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Lake counties
- Helped design and advocate for renters’ rights reform in Alachua County and Gainesville
- Held multiple Know-Your-Rights workshops with local groups including ACLC and Black Hats Collective
- Advocated for mobile homeowners facing illegal and unethical practices in mobile parks
- Submitted public comment against HUD’s proposal to bar mixed families from receiving housing benefits
- Advocated for a City resolution endorsing Community ID by Madres Sin Fronteras and the Human Rights Coalition of Alachua County
- Helped revise Gainesville Police Department immigrant interaction and language access policies
- Defended clients against illegal evictions through Florida Legal Services
- Volunteered at Grace Marketplace as a student and as a lawyer
- Member of the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice
- Partnered with Farmworker Association Florida to assist communities in need across north and central Florida
- Interned with Three Rivers Legal Aid as a law student and assisted with family law and DV issues
- Interned with Children’s Legal Services as a law student and served the children of the Eighth Circuit
- Interned with the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program as a law student and represented survivors of violence
- Interned with County Attorney’s Office as a law student and review county ordinances for revision
My name is Reina Elisa Saco and I was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1990. My parents could have been considered well-off at the time, as much as one can be in a country rationing food. However, just one year after I was born, Cuba entered “The Special Period” as the Soviet Union collapsed, causing devastating shortages of food, medicine, and other resources. Once that happened, everything began to unravel quickly.
In August of 1994, just weeks before my fourth birthday, riots broke out across Cuba and a new refugee crisis exploded across the country.
In August of 1994, just weeks before my fourth birthday, riots broke out across Cuba and a new refugee crisis exploded across the country. My father felt that it was best for our safety to prepare to leave and began to make arrangements. My parents had me baptized in secret, in case we didn’t survive the journey. Not long after, we set off to sea in a tiny boat in the middle of the night, hoping to reach Guantanamo Bay and US soil.
Unfortunately, the boat engine failed and the entire boat broke apart, crashing into the rocks outside of Guantanamo Bay. My father swam to shore while keeping me and my mother afloat. Once we were ashore on US soil, we were immediately detained by US Marines. We were processed and given MREs and then taken to the makeshift tent city holding thousands of Cubans and Haitians. While we had technically reached US soil, we were detained in limbo and eventually moved to camps in Panama.
From September to December, a green tent was my home. The one constant in all of this was an ankle monitor.
Housing is a basic human right. I believe that every person should have access to safe and stable housing. We are in a housing crisis – not just here in Gainesville, but nationwide. Rents are rising faster than wages everywhere and this means that low-income individuals have to struggle for basic housing that meets minimum health standards.
Too often, I meet people who don’t think that they can make suggestions to the city or who think that city hall isn’t a place for them. I want to make sure that all voices are heard. That means more than just three minutes in citizen comment or having access to city emails.
We need to re-think the concept of public safety in order to incorporate everyone. Our families deserve to feel safe and able to access our community programs – from GPD to transportation to homeless services to fire rescue. No one should be afraid to use their own city services.
Reina Saco Campaign
PO Box 12941
Gainesville, FL 32604