Hector Villagra

hector villagraHector Villagra has been Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California since February 2011.

He launched the Orange County Office of the ACLU of Southern California in September 2005 and served as its Director until October 2009 when he became Legal Director for the ACLU of Southern California.

Before joining the ACLU, Mr. Villagra served as Regional Counsel for the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) from 2001 to 2005 and as a staff attorney at MALDEF from 1999 to 2001. Mr. Villagra has served as counsel in civil rights cases involving such issues as educational equity, religious discrimination, immigrants’ rights, and voting rights.

He began his professional career as a law clerk for the Honorable Robert N. Wilentz, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt, circuit judge on the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mr. Villagra graduated from Columbia University and Columbia University School of Law.

Kathryn Steinle’s Murder Puts the Spotlight on ICE

ICE Detainers

Hector Villagra: ICE’s use of detainers to imprison people without due process or probable cause — including not just those here without authorization but also green card holders and even U.S. citizens — raises obvious and serious constitutional concerns.

Protecting Bystanders’ Videos of Police Encounters

Videotaping Police Encounters

Hector Villagra: With Mobile Justice CA, people can document police activity and directly place a check on police power: users are encouraged to submit a detailed incident report of a law enforcement interaction they saw or experienced, whether or not they recorded it.

The Whole World Is Watching

Mobile Justice CA

Hector Villagra: The ACLU of California is proud to announce the release of Mobile Justice CA, a new smartphone app that allows users to effectively record law enforcement officers.

Cops Don’t Need Tanks

Militarizing Local Police Departments

Hector Villagra: We increasingly see its influence in our city streets because billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment has flowed from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments now use these wartime weapons in everyday policing.

Can You Be Arrested in California for Refusing to Provide ID?

Refusing to Provide ID

Hector Villagra: We think it’s clear that because California has no stop identify and statute — and, therefore, in the words of the Supreme Court, has not created a legal obligation requiring a suspect to answer questions — you cannot be arrested for failing to provide identification when detained by a police officer.

Bye, Bye, Baca

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Baca Resigns — Baca’s failure to acknowledge the problem at its core had become the key impediment to its reform.

Veterans Deserve Better

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Hector Villagra: The VA’s failure to meet Valentini and other veterans’ most basic need for housing should cause us to question how much our government values the sacrifices they make.