September 27, 2002

Farm Workers Rights Group to Honor Two Latino San Diegans

At its annual tardeada on October 5, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) will recognize two San Diegans for their lifetime of commitment to securing equal rights for all people. Activist Gracia Molina Pick and attorney Michael Aguirre have been selected respectively for the Jessie De la Cruz and Don Quixote Awards.

About the Award Recipients:

Mike Aguirre

As a teen, Don Quixote Award recipient, Mike Aguirre worked as an agricultural laborer picking cantaloupes in Arizona. He has organized several student voter registration projects and held leadership positions in his professional life.

Aguirrre was appointed Assistant Counsel to the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on investigations, where he led an investigation into a national employee benefit scheme that was defrauding investors of millions of dollars in earned and future benefits.

Currently, Aguirre works in private practice specializing in securities and investment fraud. He has successfully prosecuted investment fraud cases against First Securities Pension Corp., American Principals Holdings, Inc. and J. David & Company, among others and has recovered millions of dollars for thousands of Southern California investors.

Gracia Molina Pick

Born in Mexico Gracia Molina Pick, recipient of the Jesse de la Cruz Award, began her activism as a teenager when she fought to secure women’s voting rights in her native country. She hasn’t stopped for a moment since.

She took part in the Minorities Issues Conference, the first successful effort to begin the grassroots integration of minorities into the State Democratic Party. She was involved in the campaign of Henry B. Gonzalez, the first Mexican-American elected to Congress from Texas. She was also the first Latina to join the founding of the Second Wave of the Feminist Movement. As a lecturer and instructor at UCSD and Mesa College, Molina Pick was the founder of the first Chicano and Chicana Studies programs, and MECHA activist groups.

She currently serves as Western Regional chair of the Veteran Feminists of America and on the boards of the Citizens and Immigrants for Equal Justice, the California Women’s Agenda of the Women’s Intercultural Network and the United Nations Association of San Diego. Molina Pick also volunteers at a local hospital and serves meals to homeless people on a weekly basis.

About CRLA:

For 36 years, CRLA has provided free legal services to California’s agricultural workers, including those in San Diego. In 2001, San Diego’s agricultural value was $1,289,741,407, the highest ever for the County and the ninth successive year of growth for the agricultural industry. But many of the County’s 35,000 farm workers, the very people who are the backbone of the industry, do not share this wealth. At least 7,000 farm workers and day laborers in North County are homeless. CRLA’s Oceanside office faces daily client claims of unpaid wages/overtime, on-the-job injuries with no worker’s compensation insurance, lack of water, bathrooms or hand washing facilities in the field.

Benefits from the tardeada will support continued legal representation to this group. For more details, please contact Kim Stuart at or call 415-492-8065.

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