Rekha Nair, Esq.
Rekha Nair is a first generation immigrant and Phoenician. She is a proud graduate of Arizona State University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (L'12). She is a former math teacher, public defender, and PLAN and Trans Queer Pueblo board member and has been fighting to protect and expand the rights of immigrants and their families in Arizona since 2014. She became Executive Director of PLAN in July 2021. She loves chocolate and speaking Spanish; she abhors injustice and most fruit.
"I am so inspired by PLAN’s mission because it envisions not only providing comprehensive legal services to immigrants but also centering the voices and needs of the immigrant community in driving this work forward. I am excited to have the opportunity to grow PLAN into a one-stop, community-based legal services organization for immigrant families in my hometown of Phoenix."
My Immigration Story
My father, like most immigrants, came to the United States looking for a better future for himself and his family. In the 1970s, he moved from a small village in Kerala, India's tropical backwaters to the University of Minnesota's snowy campus. He spent his first Christmas in the U.S. with his mentor's family and bought his mentor the only useful gift he could afford - a pair of socks. In 1977, he and my mother had an arranged marriage and she immigrated to the United States. A few years later, they had the good fortune of being sponsored for a green card (legal residence) by my father's company. In 1987, they became U.S. citizens - sworn in by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Along the way, they had three kids and made Mesa, AZ our permanent home.
As a daughter of immigrants, I grew up on the "hyphen": speaking a mix of Malayalam (the language of Kerala, India) and English, eating both American and Indian food, and celebrating a combination of Indian and American traditions. In Mesa, I got a great education, but often felt isolated and out of place as one of the few non-white, non-Christian,
non-"American" kids. Because of these childhood experiences of being the other, it took me many years to find pride, comfort, and confidence in my hyphenated Indian American, daughter of immigrants identity. And if I am honest, some days I am still not truly comfortable in my own skin, but I know I am better for having lived between these two worlds (fellow desi and poet Rupi Kaur puts it best). It is what inspires and motivates me to be an advocate for the rights of immigrants and other communities who are striving to be seen, loved, and valued in America.