Rep. Judy Chu, UCLA Professor Gerald López, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration Honored at 2023 Burton Awards

(San Francisco, CA)—Rep. Judy Chu, UCLA Professor Gerald López, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) were honored on May 18, 2023 at the 2023 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 32 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. Chu, Professor López and BAJI to defend the fundamental rights of immigrants,” ILRC Executive Director Eric Cohen said.

BAJI received the Burton Award for Advocacy in recognition of its work to uplift the needs and voices of Black immigrants as they navigate the immigration process and for the strong partnership between our organizations. BAJI educates and engages African American and Black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice.

BAJI Executive Director Nana Gyamfi accepted the award and called for organizations fighting on behalf of all marginalized communities to go on the offense to defeat oppressive policies and laws being enacted across the country.

“We need to be more creative, we can’t just keep playing defense,” Gyamfi said. “BAJI is ready, let’s do this!”

Professor López received the Burton Award for Lawyering in recognition of his long-standing service and work in the field of Rebellious Lawyering and legal clinical education for lawyers working with immigrants. In all his work, López has emphasized how we can and should most ambitiously work with one another – how we can and should practice rebelliously -- in addressing often messy, entangled problems.

López praised the ILRC for its long history of rebellious lawyering in the face of great adversity.

“There is never a place in history where you don’t find rebellion left, right and center,” López said. “If we don’t know our past we don’t know ourselves.”

Congresswoman Chu received the Nancy Pelosi Award for Policy in recognition of her public service and work on behalf of immigrants and their families in California and across the country. Congresswoman Chu, who represents California’s 28th Congressional District, and in 2009, became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history.

“We have to stand together, we have to fight together to make sure everyone gets a fair shot of the American dream,” Congresswoman Chu said.

ILRC Board member Aidín Castillo 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