Ybarra Maldonado Law Group (YMLG) is an intentionally all Bilingual Law Firm in Phoenix Dedicated to Serving Migrant & Spanish Speaking Communities in Arizona. We practice Immigration and Civil Rights via Ybarra Maldonado & Associates and Criminal & Personal Injury via Ybarra Maldonado and Alagha.
Our story began on 32nd Street and Thomas in Early December of 2007. Ray Ybarra Maldonado and Dr. Angeles Maldonado crossed paths in the middle of a protest against Sheriff Arpaio and Pruitt’s Furniture Store. Civil Rights icon Danny Ortega introduced them and the two soon realized that they shared the same mission, values, and goals. Angeles had been organizing weekly demonstrations against Pruitt’s as they were hiring off duty sheriff deputies to go after day laborers in the area. Arpaio’s racial profiling operations eventually led to a civil righs lawsuit, Melendres v. Arpaio, in which the MCSO was found guilty of violating the constitutional rights of Latinos in Arizona. It was in the midst of this struggle that Ray and Angeles began collaborating on a campaign to influence the rhetoric on civil disobedience. In time, they joined efforts with other activists, including Carina Guillen to setup a grassroots organization named “PUEBLO” doing community, worker, and student organizing.
One day, during one of MCSO’s raids, and in the midst of legal observing an arrest, they noticed the urgent need for more movement attorneys who could play a role in supporting existing local organizing and grassroots organizations and campaigns. It was upon this realization, that Ray ultimately decided to take the bar and practice law. He had had enough; feeling frustrated that as a legal observer his ability to help our community was limited. He also identified a need for lawyers our communities could trust, after witnessing a lack of genuine support from an attorney at the scene.
After passing the bar, Ray gained experience in Immigration Law through the mentorship of immigration attorney Farrokh Parsi, a Harvard Law School educated attorney. From there, he went on to work as a Public Defender in Cochise County, and eventually became a Federal Public Defender in Tucson, Arizona. These experiences combined were monumental in Ray’s legal education. It was at the public defender’s office that Ray was inspired by aggressive attorneys who taught him how to vigorously defend those accused of crimes. As a public defender he learned how to navigate the state and federal criminal justice systems, attained not guilty verdicts in Superior Court, won motions to suppress in Federal Court and drafted and argued cases at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Throughout this time, Angeles was volunteering at a migrant center in Naco, Sonora and continued working on her doctoral studies and dissertation analyzing discourse in the immigrant rights movement.
In 2012, Angeles and Ray opened The Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, PLLC (now Ybarra Maldonado & Associates). Through the support of their families, their friends, and most importantly the immigrant rights community, the office quickly attracted those in need of quality legal services. In 2012, our community was still being attacked by former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. One of Abogado Ray’s first cases was representing a worker arrested at one of Arpaio’s worksite raids. Taking the lessons he learned as a public defender and working with other attorneys seeking justice for migrants, Abogado Ray filed motions challenging the legality of the raids and alleging officers violated his client’s constitutional rights.
Abogado Ray has attained a not guilty verdict following a jury trial and his involvement in this case and other identity theft arrests resulted in our office eventually becoming local counsel on the federal civil rights lawsuit that eventually led to the downfall of Arpaio’s notorious raids.
Abogado Ray also attained a not guilty verdict following a federal jury trial for an immigrant falsely accused of smuggling drugs through the port of entry in what is referred to as a “Blind Mule” case. A gifted speaker, Abogado Ray’s strength in the courtroom is his aggressive cross-examination of government witnesses and ability to persuade a jury that the government cannot prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Victories in the courtroom resulted in growth of the office. From a 300 square foot office on 24th Street and Thomas, the Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado moved to a larger office space on 16th Street and Thomas. In 2015, the office moved into its own building on 27th Street and Thomas. Victories continued in both the criminal and immigration contexts, with creative motions resulting the complete dismissal of DUIs, remands from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in both criminal and immigration cases, grants of cancellation of removal and bonds in Immigration Court, and Asylum, U Visa, and VAWA applications being approved. The office also has happily adjusted spouses, mothers, fathers, and children to the status of permanent resident, as well as winning appeals from denials of USCIS adjudications.
The decision to grow the law firm into the large size it is today was very much intentional. Tired of seeing larger law firms exploit and abuse our community, Angeles and Ray decided to expand the firm in order to provide our community a large law firm where they could come to get an honest opinion about their options and aggressive representation.
The YMLG vision is to offer immigrant and spanish speaking communities an alternative to the legal firms available. Today, the firm remains committed to reinserting ethics and integrity into the legal field that serves the community in which they come from. The entire team is focused on ensuring that the office is always both welcoming, professional, and that they raise the standard of services that our communities receive. We believe that our communities not only deserve great legal representation and results, but most importantly they need a law firm that understands the importance of the process. Subsequently, we pay attention to the details, and are dedicated to facilitating the difficult, burdensome and systematically unjust legal process for the families they serve.
At our firm, families are not another case, they are always treated like members of our own family. Most importantly, we are committed to fight not only in the courts, but in the streets. We unapologetically pride ourselves from supporting and collaborating with local organizations, legal entities, and movements fighting for human and civil rights for migrant communities. In his book, Born on the Border, Ray Ybarra Maldonado proclaims that “human mobility is a human right,” and it is from this principle and from a heart of resistance that our attorneys show up for our community.
Today, we are proud to have built a carefully selected team that is not only amazing at what they do, but that is truly motivated and dedicated to serving the community they come from. Our 100% bilingual team boasts degrees from institutions of higher education, including Juris Doctorates, PhD, Masters in Public Administration, and Bachelor’s and Associates Degrees. Our attorneys both exemplify an unparalleled commitment to the families they represent, and an overall passion for social justice.
Finally, Dr. Maldonado and Abogado Ray also launched and fund the work of The Border Crit Institute, dedicated to foregrounding the voices of people of color living in the borderlands. Dr. Maldonado’s current research projects include documenting the voices and experiences of immigrant children in Arizona, and the experiences of activist mothers.
In sum, Ybarra Maldonado Law Group’s story is one of resistance and a refusal to conform to what’s available. It is a story of fighting for more for our families. Fighting for the rights of those we love, for the rights of our people, one case or protest, at a time.