2011: Maria Andrade

Maria Andrade, Fund For Idaho, Community Catalyst AwardWith her heart firmly rooted in social justice, Maria Andrade has given countless hours to nonprofit organizations, grassroots campaigns, student movements, and others in need of legal advice.

Alarmed by the lack of any free legal representation for people in deportation proceedings, Maria joined with private attorneys, Idaho Legal Services, the University of Idaho Law Clinic, and the Volunteer Lawyers Project to create the Idaho Immigration ProBono Network: Idaho’s first and only entity designed to deliver free legal services for those facing deportation.

As a cooperating attorney with the ACLU, Maria represented a man when the state told him he could not put an industrial hemp display in the Capitol rotunda in violation of the first amendment, presented “know your rights” talks for members of Boise’s Muslim community targeted by the FBI for questioning after 9/11, represented two BSU student activists interrogated by the FBI, and co-founded the ACLU of Idaho – Andrade Legal, Civil Rights and Immigrant Justice Internship created in 2010.

With Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN) leading the way, Andrade Legal helped found a broad-based coalition created to implement a statewide system to respond to families in need following an immigration raid. Both before and after the group was formed, Andrade Legal organized legal support for detained individuals, recruiting lawyers and translators for jail visits across southern Idaho.

Maria speaks regularly to numerous nonprofit groups, classes, and professional groups to address relevant immigrations issues and dispel myths about immigration and immigrants in general. Groups include Idaho Families Unlimited, The Interfaith Alliance, the Boise Unitarian Church, Women of Color Alliance, BSU, Mujeres Unidas, Idaho Press Corps, Idaho Democratic Caucus, Federal Defender Services of Idaho, Idaho Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and others.

When anti-immigration laws are proposed in the state legislature, Maria is often called upon to analyze and testify to legislative committees about bills such as the three printed in 2010. She led the legal effort behind the grassroots opposition to the bills taken on by ICAN, the ACLU of Idaho, the Roman Catholic Diocese, and others.

Moved by her own political activism, Maria provided legal support to the student protest movements in support of farmworker minimum wage in 2001, Food Not Bombs when they set up a food station in downtown Boise, and conducted teach-ins for those seeking to engage in political protest and civil disobedience.

Maria Andrade is a lawyer in private practice in Boise, Idaho. She opened her private office in 2001 and by 2011 it had grown to include three lawyers and seven legal and administrative staff. The firm is among few immigration law practices in the state and has become a leader in the legal community as well as an advocate for just and humane immigration policies. Though her case load focuses on immigration work, Maria has also represented low wage workers in employment matters, disabled individuals in fair housing claims, and those seeking redress for government abuses of their civil rights.

A 1995 graduate of Notre Dame Law School and former Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer, Maria learned to be a lawyer as a staff attorney with the Oregon Legal Services Farmworker Program in Pendleton, OR. She went on to represent groups such as Consumers Union, the National Council of the La Raza, and the World Institute on Disability in large impact litigation with the private, nonprofit firm Public Advocates, Inc. She then worked with the Legal Aid program of Oregon, serving as managing attorney in Ontario, OR before opening her own office in Boise. In law school, Maria clerked with El Rescate Legal Services in Los Angeles, representing immigrants in deportation proceedings and working on civil rights cases with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. She now donates much of her time to national immigrant rights issues through her service on the board of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild in Boston the Advisory Board of the American Immigration Council Legal Action Center in D.C. and national committees of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Committee.

What others wanted to tell you about Maria

Wendy Fox: Maria is an inspired human – beautiful in spirit and person. She strives everyday to bring small slices of justice — for her clients, her community, her friends and family. And, she’s got an amazing sense of humor… which seems to be the only way to be and successfully survive in the world. She deserves this recognition — for her work in the community at large as well as for her plan for the future. Ask her where she would like to be in five years and you’ll be surprised at the inspired visions of community collaboration and support she’s cooking up. The future is bright, and we’re glad that Maria will be a part of it.

Sonya Rosario: Maria was one of WOCA’s first advisors and supporters, a key player in establishing WOCA’s direction. Maria first met Sonya Rosario at the State Capital. Sonya saw Maria and asked her if she was the woman Sonya was waiting to meet. Maria replied no and Sonya left, only to return later to ask Maria if she was interested in meeting to discuss developing a woman of color organization in Idaho. When Maria looked up from Sonya’s business card, Sonya was gone… leaving Maria to remark to her friend, “Who was that masked woman?”

Bill Chisholm: As a former recipient of Fund for Idaho grants, I want to express my gratitude to Maria on behalf of not only the Idaho Energy Education Project, which I consider a success story in terms of the investment of the grant monies, but also from me personally as a long time activist who recognizes the power and importance of the support that I/we have received from our fellow Idahoans, such as Maria, in doing our work. It is a very important and viable partnership.

Jesus Camacho: I have known her Maria for about ten years. From the first moment I met her until now, I have seen her as an honest professional eager to help people in difficult legal situations. I recommend her to people coming to me asking for someone able and honest to help them. Whenever I have called her, she has always been there for me.