Rep. Chuy Garcia, African Advocacy Network Honored at 2024 Burton Awards

San Francisco Board of Supervisor Hillary Ronen Gives Keynote Address

(San Francisco, CA)—Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia (D-Illinois), and the African Advocacy Network (AAN) were honored on May 23, 2024 at the 2024 Phillip Burton Immigration & Civil Rights Awards for their exemplary commitment and work to significantly advance the civil rights of all immigrants. Named after the late Congressman Phillip Burton, U.S. Representative from California (1964-1983), the awards recognize those who carry on Congressman Burton’s legacy in support of immigrant and human rights.  

“For 35 years, the Burton Awards, hosted by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) has recognized the work of advocates, policy leaders and organizations and we are humbled to honor Rep. Garcia and the African Advocacy Network to defend the fundamental rights of immigrants,” ILRC Executive Director Eric Cohen said. “Rep. Garcia and AAN have not wavered in their commitment to immigrant communities at a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are increasing. The ILRC, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, is honored to work with them.”

AAN received the Philip Burton Award for Advocacy in recognition of its work to serve the growing Diaspora of African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the San Francisco area. AAN provides immigration legal services, case management, and social integration services based on a unique Cultural Brokering model. AAN’s Executive Director Adoubou Traore accepted the award.

“We work to serve people who are underrepresented, underemployed, underserviced. And when you look at organizations like the ILRC, you realize you are not alone,” Traore said. “We have been around for 15 years, and it’s the first time a Black-led organization has been around for that long serving our community.”

Traore added that advocacy organizations need to rethink how to approach immigration issues.

“The reality is that our numbers are growing extremely fast. Every day we see new arrivals, and they’re getting younger and younger. That brings us new challenges, and it is a blessing to have people to talk to who can help you address them,” Traore said.

Rep. Garcia received the Nancy Pelosi Award for Policy. Throughout his political career Rep. Garcia has been a progressive voice, both as an organizer and as a legislator, fighting to improve the lives of his working-class neighbors in Chicago. Rep. Garcia champions the New Way Forward Act and has been a tireless advocate with the ILRC, the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN), and its partners to build support for this legislation and be a strong voice for restoring the fundamental principles of due process to keep families together and dismantle the prison to deportation pipeline.

“Our work in Congress would not be possible without the advocates at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center,” Rep. Garcia said. “The paths to citizenship that were available to me no longer exist for others. “We must fight for a more just immigration system, which includes recent arrivals and those who have lived here for years.”

Rep. Garcia added that the record number of money spent on enforcement, including militarization of the border, has had a “human impact across multiple generations.”

San Francisco Board of Supervisor Hillary Ronen gave the keynote address. Ronen has authored scores of impactful legislation including Mental Health SF – legislation creating a system of care for individuals suffering from mental illness or drug addiction disorder, the Student Success Fund to prompt and fund innovative interventions to eliminate the opportunities gap at SFUSD public  schools, and the Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) to improve systems that have historically failed survivors of sexual assault and rape.

Ronen addressed efforts in ways San Francisco leaders have been advocating for immigrants, saying “our community has strategically used the most awful federal policies to convince conservative local officials to build protections for our community.”

“Fighting both inside and outside city governance, we have fought to help immigrants feel welcomed in San Francisco, so they can feel empowered to get involved politically,” Ronen said. “The more invested immigrants are in our community, the most successful they will be and the more successful we will be as a community.”

ILRC Board Chair Lisa Spiegel emceed the event. The awards were created with the help of John L. Burton, former Chairman of the California Democratic Party. Phillip Burton’s brother, John Burton currently serves on the ILRC Advisory Board and was presented with the 2004 Phillip Burton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Immigration & Civil Rights. 


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC works to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. Follow us at, and on Twitter and Instagram @the_ILRC