AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Presents Ban Al-Wardi and Maria Chavez with the 2023 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award

6/6/23 AILA Doc. No. 23060500.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recognizes Ban Al-Wardi and Maria Chavez with the 2023 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award for outstanding efforts in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion excellence in the immigration legal profession.

Described in her nomination as a “consummate and compassionate professional, particularly at ease with members of all races, creeds, colors, and most importantly, a wise and just teacher of all matters involving, diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Ban Al-Wardi is an immigrant rights advocate and attorney practicing in the field of Immigration Law in California since 1999. Ms. Al-Wardi is an advocate for civil rights and human rights projects focused on exposing and challenging systemic government violations and policies targeting members of Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Black immigrant communities. She currently serves as the chair for the AILA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and previously served as SoCal Chapter President and elected National Board member for the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest grassroots civil rights organization representing Arab Americans throughout the U.S.  Her work has been honored by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Applied Research Center for the Courage Award in the Public's Truth Campaign, and the Los Angeles City Mayor’s Office in her appointment as a founding member of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Rights Affairs (MOIA).

One of her nominators shared that Maria C. Chavez is “a tireless advocate for her clients and for the legal community, bringing up and highlighting the cultural needs of our clients and the cultural understandings needed by attorneys.” A daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, Ms. Chavez is a partner at Jacobs & Schlesinger LLP in San Diego, CA. She represents clients in a wide range of immigration matters including removal defense in immigration court, family-based petitions, and humanitarian remedies. She frequently gives presentations around the community on various topics in immigration and nationality law, and volunteers with immigrant rights organizations throughout San Diego, including the Community Law Project and the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium. She is a member of AILA, Lawyers Club of San Diego (of which she is co-chair of the Diverse Women’s Committee), San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, and the San Diego County Bar Association (where she is on the executive committee for the DEI Division and a co-chair of the Anti-Racism Group). Maria is the 2022-23 chair of the AILA San Diego Chapter. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and is licensed to practice law in immigration courts nationwide, the state of Maryland, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.