Welcome Lourdes!

Dear Centro Legal Community,

We are happy to share that Lourdes Martinez recently joined Centro Legal as Directing Attorney of our Immigrants’ Rights Practice!

This last year has been transformational for the Immigrants’ Rights team here at Centro Legal. We have advocated for and with our clients in detention centers for their rights and partnered with community organizations to defend clients in vulnerable and abusive situations from ICE threats. In addition, Centro Legal continues to serve as a leader in responding to the needs of refugee children and families fleeing violence and seeking asylum, continuing our partnerships with Oakland and Hayward school districts, where to date, we have represented hundreds of unaccompanied minors. I am so proud of the work this team has accomplished to represent the values and strong foundation of protecting, fighting, and advocating for our community.

“I am excited to be joining Centro Legal during such an inspiring time in the organization’s history and a time when the need for bold advocacy for immigrant justice and liberation is critical. My hope is to lead the Immigrant Rights Team with a vision of legal services as part of movement-building for immigrant dignity. With millions of undocumented individuals excluded from our democracy and our nationhood, as well as many more at our borders seeking refuge and safety, ours is a time of moral crisis. Our challenge is not only to stand in solidarity with our clients, advocating on their behalf in a way that centers their voices, their stories and their courage; but also to commit to realizing that vision of justice internally as well as externally. As an immigrant woman from Mexico, I am proud to be joining an organization that values diversity, inclusion and empowerment from within. I hope to honor Centro’s intentions and to work alongside my team to build our collective leadership and power, so that together we can have the kind of impact that reflects and promotes true transformation.” — Lourdes Martinez

Lourdes shares Centro Legal’s movement lawyering vision – taking direction directly from impacted communities and organizers to build people power and create long lasting sustainable change. I am confident that our Immigrants’ Rights practice will continue to thrive and grow under Lourdes’ leadership! Thank you for helping us celebrate this new chapter of our organization.

In Solidarity,

Monique Berlanga

Executive Director

Lourdes Martinez brings twenty years of experience in the immigrants’ rights field with her to Centro Legal. After graduating from George Washington University Law School, Lourdes worked at the Tahirih Justice Center in Falls Church, Virginia, representing immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence in a variety of cases, ranging from affirmative asylum to removal defense in immigration court. Lourdes later moved to California and became a legal educator at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, where she provided technical assistance and training to attorneys, acting as community liaison with the government, and working with immigrant organizers in the Central Valley of California. Lourdes’s areas of legal expertise include family-based immigration and asylum law, with a focus on protections for women and sexual minorities.

Most recently, Lourdes spent six years as the Political Director at Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) in the Bay Area, working alongside immigrant leaders and organizers on campaigns for Domestic Worker and Immigrant Rights, as well as promoting the civic engagement of the Latinx community. During that time, Lourdes oversaw MUA’s base-building and political campaign work, also forming part of the organization’s leadership. Lourdes and her team worked successfully with immigration advocates to ensure that immigrant women’s voices were heard by the Biden Administration, and that asylum protections for survivors of domestic violence were restored. She also led MUA’s efforts to form the Alameda County Immigrant Legal and Education Network in collaboration with Centro Legal, in response to the threats launched by the Trump Administration against the immigrant communities of the Bay Area. Lourdes identifies as a Mexican woman of mixed heritage whose family history compels her to work to create a world where migration is not needed to flee displacement or persecution, but where it is nevertheless possible and celebrated.