President Obama Signs Legislation Dedicating Federal Courthouse To MALDEF Co-Founder, Judge Armendariz

MALDEF celebrates legislation naming the federal courthouse in El Paso in Honor of Late Judge and Civil Rights Leader Albert Armendariz

October 21, 2009

“This honor is a fitting tribute for a legal pioneer who helped lead the movement to secure civil rights for Latinos in the United States,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel.

The legislation (H.R. 2053) honoring Judge Armendariz was introduced by Congressman Silvestre Reyes and passed both the House and Senate unanimously before being signed by President Obama.

One of seven children, Judge Armendariz worked as a shoe salesman and mechanic before serving in World War II. With the help of the GI Bill, he graduated from the Texas College of Mines (now the University of Texas at El Paso) and then from the University of Southern California School of Law, the only Mexican-American graduate at USC. He returned to El Paso with his wife and family to practice law, and for 57 years he distinguished himself as an exceptional member of the El Paso legal community.

Judge Armendariz was a tireless defender of the rights of the Latino community. In 1954, he helped argue the case Hernandez v. the State of Texas before the U.S. Supreme Court, securing Hispanics status as a protected class under the 14th Amendment and paving the way for future civil rights litigation. From 1976 to 1985, Judge Armendariz served as an administrative judge for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He was then appointed to the 8th Court of Appeals of Texas.

In addition to being a founding member of MALDEF, Judge Armendariz served as the National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and helped found the Mexican American Bar Association. From 1968 to 1971, he served as chairman of the MALDEF Board of Trustees. Judge Armendariz continued to zealously defend the rights of immigrants, the population he has served so remarkably for over a half a century, up until his passing in 2007.

MALDEF joins the Armendariz family and the El Paso community in celebrating this fitting recognition for one of its founding members.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund