Interview with Eric Martinez and Samantha Benavides


Sam Benavides is a recent college graduate of Texas State University, where she earned her degree in Public Administration and Political Communication. She is from Laredo, Texas, and currently works as a Campaign Fellow with Mano Amiga in San Marcos, Texas, where she focuses on communications as well as centering the voices of directly impacted individuals in legal reform advocacy efforts. She previously worked with MOVE Texas, a statewide nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to build power in underrepresented youth communities. It was through her work with MOVE that she met the Mano Amiga team, and formally joined the organization in the summer of 2020.

Eric Martinez is the Policy Director for Mano Amiga. Eric’s political evolution began in libertarian anarchist circles and drifted towards employment in right-wing research think tanks, where he focused on local governance issues fighting against developers. He gladly left that life behind, over what he saw as inconsistent application of anti-violence principles on matters of immigration and the criminal legal system. and has since developed profoundly and rapidly, earning him an invitation to work directly for the county’s top elected official, a progressive democrat and fellow college dropout, the Hays County Judge, where Eric helped lead a criminal legal system assessment identifying the cost of the local jail had risen 7000% in 5 years.

He then left to lead Mano Amiga full time, where along with the team, he successfully advocated for the state's of Texas's only Cite & Release Ordinance, brought a revolving community bail fund to Hays County: The Bail Project, and advocated for $5 million in ARP funding to go towards establishing a public defender's office.

Based in San Marcos, Mano Amiga was formed out of a need to organize and campaign against the detainment and deportation of undocumented people in the US. Today, Mano Amiga has expanded their goals to advocate for criminal justice policy reform in Hays and Caldwell Counties.


Location Description: 

North America--United States--Texas--Hays County--San Marcos