Thursday, May 7, 2015 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — San Francisco Public Defender Immigration Attorney Francisco Ugarte will be honored at a May 14 ceremony for his work empowering women facing deportation.
Ugarte will receive the award from the San Francisco immigrant rights organization Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), which nurtures leadership skills among immigrant Latinas, many of whom have experienced domestic violence. MUA will present the award during its 25th Anniversary celebration at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, from 5-10 p.m. For tickets, go to http://mua25.eventbrite.com
MUA Co-Director Juana Flores said her organization has been fortunate to work closely with Ugarte, who has referred public defender clients to MUA “so that they might recognize their own power, become leaders of their lives, families and communities, and educate their communities about their rights.”
“Mujeres Unidas y Activas appreciates Francisco Ugarte for the humanity that lives in his heart and his extraordinary professionalism,” Flores said.
Ugarte has worked on behalf of domestic violence victims who were detained by ICE after calling police for help, Flores said.
“When the abuse of immigration authorities and anti-immigrant laws put these women in situations of deportation and separated them from their children, Francisco fought so that they would be free and searched for remedies to their immigration status. Francisco’s legal career has always focused on our most vulnerable members of our communities. We are thrilled to recognize all of the work that he has done for our community and the spirit that he brings to representing those with the least privileges among us at our 25th anniversary.”
Ugarte was hired by the San Francisco Public Defender in 2014 as the office’s first full-time immigration attorney to help clients handle the immigration implications of their criminal cases. Since 1996, federal legislation has expanded the range of criminal offenses that trigger deportation and mandatory detention, even for legal immigrants.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Ugarte’s work is invaluable to immigrant families.
“Even a minor brush with the law can separate families through deportation. Francisco’s guidance on our cases means our clients are less likely to experience these devastating consequences,” Adachi said.
Also to be honored are MUA’s Maria Carrillo, the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic, and domestic worker and immigrant rights movement leader Maria Reyes. Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign, will be the keynote speaker