A Message From La Raza Centro Legal’s Executive Director

hands across border

United States policies such as the North American Trade Agreements (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) have caused the loss of many local businesses and decimated small farms in Central American countries while U.S.  corporations benefit.  The economic disruption, coupled with decades of U.S. imperialism in Central America which were followed by the highly problematic “War on Drugs,” have created a humanitarian crisis in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.  Now, we must respond compassionately to the refugee youth and families who flee here seeking asylum from the terror left behind in their countries.

We are working in many collaborations to respond to the current regional crisis and build our capacity.   To best serve and protect migrant children and families, we are collaborating with Legal Services for Children. Our collaboration with Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) ensures wrap around services to the families who seek our assistance.  To enhance our capacity and resources, we collaborate with the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network (SFILEN), San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA), VAWA Taskforce, Collaborative Resources for Immigrant Services on the Peninsula (CRISP), and the many attorneys who work with us during our bi-monthly clinics with Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR).

In the past year we have been able to ensure legal assistance to over 4,000 individuals and families.  Our Immigration law program provided assistance with Asylum, U Visas for victims of crime, VAWA for victims of domestic violence, T visas for victims of trafficking, family petitions, legal permanent residency, citizenship for seniors and disabled individuals, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  In addition, through effective representation we have been able to recover over $450,000 in wages due to low-wage workers.  Further, our Immigration Program and Workers Rights attorneys were one of the first five in the nation to obtain U-Visa certification through the judicial process for an employment claim.  Moreover, we have ensured that over 43 seniors have been able to receive and maintain the public benefits they are entitled to by disputing overpayments, amount decreases and termination of benefits. We assist seniors in asserting their right as seniors to extend their stay as tenants and do not become homeless due to the Ellis Act evictions.  We have successfully obtained over $70,000 in relocation benefits for seniors subject to housing evictions.

After 41 years of legal services and advocacy on behalf of the low-income, monolingual and Spanish-speaking community, we thank our most ardent supporters. Over the course of our history, La Raza Centro Legal has established a reputation of cultural competence, community credibility and linguistic capability which instills trust among the most isolated of communities.  It is because of your support that we ensure access to the justice system to those who would not otherwise afford the representation of legal counsel.  We thank you for your ongoing support to continue to increase our capacity.

Please take time to review our website to read about some of our accomplishments this year.  Our 41st Annual Celebration was the most successful in the history of our agency.   We not only met our fundraising goal for the event, but we also received additional funding to greatly increase our capacity and sustainability.  Our many funders made this possible.

Thank you once again for making the work of La Raza Centro Legal possible.  Please do not hesitate to contact me or our Development Director Alexander Pena at (415) 553-3419 or at alex@lrcl.org.


Genevie Gallegos