La Raza Centro Legal Attorneys Recognized in 2020 as Leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area Legal Community

At La Raza Centro Legal, our attorneys are legal experts in their fields who frequently present to the legal community, partner agencies,  law students and undergraduate students, and to the clients we serve.  We take pride in our passionate advocacy on behalf of our clients’ civil and human rights.   The expertise our lawyers have acquired while representing clients, have led them to be recognized in northern California as attorney trainers.  They have led Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses, as well as other types of presentations, in a variety of forums.  Here is a brief review of our attorneys’ recent CLEs, honors, and professional leadership posts:  On October 6, Workers Rights Program attorney Alejandra Cuestas-Jaimes, presented to workers, in conjunction with Excelsior Works, PODER, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Communities United for Health and Justice, in several Facebook Live Events, on the topic of Workers’ Rights in California.    In September, Immigration Attorney Pilar Eslava and Executive Director Amanda Alvarado Ford presented to an honor sorority of pre-law students at University of San Francisco (USF), in a Virtual Conversation with Immigration Attorneys  On 10/26, Removal Defense immigration attorney Marcos Pacheco presented as part of a USF Student Immigration Law Association Panel on the topic, “Working in Immigration during COVID 19”.  It was moderated by USF Professor Heidi Ho and attorney panelists included SF Public Defender attorney Carla Gomez and Purves & Bogue LLP attorney Dorothy Ma.    On November 18, Marcos Pacheco presented a CLE as part of a panel presentation, through PLI with other expert attorneys, on the topic: Updates to Representing Unaccompanied Children in California.    On October 29, agency director Amanda Alvarado Ford presented to Latinx Studies Professor Michael De Anda Muniz, Ph.D.’s  undergraduate SFSU Latinx Studies course entitled Organizing, Civil Rights, Social Justice, and Community Organizations, and provided...

Message from the Executive Director | November 24, 2020

Note For Readers: During the COVID-19 pandemic, La Raza Centro Legal has made key changes to our methods of legal services delivery, to address our clients’ evolving needs. We are open to the public every Tuesday. Each legal department is in office one full day per week, to serve our community in person. The remaining 4 days of the week, we work remotely. One of our supervising attorneys provides immigration in-person consults every Thursday for 4-6 hours at the Alabama Street Latino Task Force Hub in San Francisco’s Mission District. We are the only Bay Area legal aid agency currently offering in-person weekly consults and we are pleased to serve the community during this challenging time.       Some weeks have a theme that arises naturally through the course of the days.  This week, the idea that kept recurring is resiliency.  I’ve been inspired by photos in the San Francisco Chronicle of families in Santa Rosa who are rebuilding their homes after they perished in the 2017 Tubbs fire.  In addition, I’ve seen photos of children in the Bay Area who are taking music and dance classes in the arts, as part of social pods with their peers.  These pictures have brought me joy. Seeing children taking group drum lessons and dancing with friends was a relief to see.  I know I’m not alone in worrying about the pandemic’s effect on children.  Seeing them having fun made me feel as though children will focus on enjoying life, regardless of the obstacles presented before them.   One of the best examples that I have seen of resiliency is embodied in one of our...

Message From the Executive Director, August 13, 2020

Dear Friends, I’m writing today from a community center close to our office, in the Mission District of San Francisco, where a hub of activity is taking place.  This morning, health professionals from UCSF are conducting free COVID tests, and community members are getting referrals to food pantry locations, housing options, unemployment benefits, and access to other basic needs.  I am offering immigration consults at my table and am glad to see several individuals today.  Public health workers, with clipboards and lists of names of people with appointments, dash from outdoor tables to lines of community members who are socially distanced and calmly waiting their turn to be attended to.   Everyone is wearing a mask, socially distancing, and being extremely careful to adhere to public health guidelines issued during the pandemic.  It is inspiring to see essential workers putting themselves in the midst of our community, meeting the need at hand.  People are helping others, and it is uplifting to see and to be a part of.  In a similar way, the legal workers who have been pursuing justice for Jenny Flores for many years are just like these essential workers.  In the early 1980’s, Los Angeles Legal Aid attorney Carlos Holguin was contacted by a well-known actor Ed Asner, who said that one of his employees had a young relative who had arrived at the U.S. border after fleeing her Latin American country of origin.  Then called INS, government  immigration officials detained the young child in a roadside motel with a fence around it in an L.A. area suburb.   When Mr. Holguin investigated, he learned INS had no...

Message From the Executive Director, June 18th, 2020

Dear Friends, La Raza Centro Legal applauds today’s U.S. Supreme Court Decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., upholding the validity of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. According to the Supreme Court’s reasoning, the Trump administration, in its efforts to end the DACA program, did not follow the proper procedures required by law and failed to properly weigh how ending the program would affect those who had come to rely on its protections against deportation.  We at La Raza Centro Legal are proud of our clients who are DACA recipients.  Our immigration legal team has represented San Francisco Bay Area clients in their initial DACA filings and subsequent renewals since the program began in 2012.  From that date up through the present, our law office has represented, at no cost, many hundreds of DACA recipients in their DACA cases and in many other types of immigration applications.  We take this moment today to celebrate the achievements of all DACA recipients.  Since 2012, we have seen first hand our DACA clients’ accomplishments in higher education; entrepreneurship in start-ups in Silicon Valley and beyond that have created countless jobs; and leadership in the private sector, government and non-profit organizations.  DACA recipients are intelligent young people who are dedicated  students, professionals, skilled craftspeople, union workers, private sector leaders, government and community-based organization collaborators.  This talented group of young adults is the foundation upon which our nation’s future will be forged, and we take a moment today to celebrate them, their achievements, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today.  On behalf of La Raza Centro Legal, your community...

Message From the Executive Director, June 4th, 2020

Dear Friends, Last night I listened to Roxie Washington, the mother of George Floyd’s young daughter, speak through painful tears. While she spoke at the podium, Gianna, their sweet, beautiful, 6-year-old child stood with her. Roxie said that George was a good man, and that their child was proof of his goodness.  It was just heartbreaking.  I realized that this child would never see her father again.  I feel sick, and heartbroken, as I remember her words.  George Floyd was a victim of a crime that should never have occurred, and the tragedy is something we cannot comprehend.   What happened was cruel and horrific, and it must never happen again.  Too many Black lives have been taken in this country, and it needs to end now.  Our Black community members have been and are being murdered with impunity in  our communities.  La Raza Centro Legal decries these unjust killings.  We stand with our Black family members and friends, as allies, since we cannot afford to remain silent at a moment like this.  Black lives matter and we stand together today and going forward; we cannot remain silent with so many innocent people being killed in our midst.  To remain silent would equal acquiescence, and this cannot stand.   It is no longer sufficient to say we are not racist.  We must take action to show how we stand shoulder to shoulder with our Black loved ones.  As your community legal aid office, we stand for justice, truth, integrity, and the bright future and promise of our young people.  Stand with us now, and rather than donating to La Raza...

Message from the Executive Director, April 7, 2020

Message from the Executive Director, April 7, 2020 I hope you are well and that during this time of shelter-in-place, you and your families and housemates have adjusted and developed a new sense of normalcy.  I’m writing today’s message from my home office, a little corner of my upstairs closet, with my desk sitting under a sunny window.  The sounds of a tree trimming crew and a mechanical wood chipper are just outside my window, and I wonder,  “Is tree trimming essential work?”  Though I’m not tasked with making that decision for the crew, I’m grateful that the workers will be paid and can support their families through their labors. In January this year, I started a gratitude practice that ended up being very fortuitous given the current health pandemic.  I try to start or end each day by creating a list of three things I am grateful for.  They can be either tangible or intangible, and exist in the present, past or future.  I have also done quite a bit of reading about how to live life as a “thank you”, and this has informed my daily list.  Experts on gratitude have conducted studies that show that when you are in the midst of feeling grateful, it is virtually impossible to simultaneously feel angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed.  This may explain why people who feel grateful more often, tend to be overall happier in their daily lives. As to the recent entries in my gratitude journal, yesterday’s list included 1) Springtime decorations created by neighborhood children, displayed in the windows of their homes; 2) texts from friends I hadn’t...