April 24, 2017

Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, will be the keynote speaker at the June 8 graduation celebration for the UW School of Social Work.

Barón is an active figure in the national dialogue on immigration. Under his leadership, NWIRP has been active on multiple fronts in support of immigrant rights. The organization was at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport trying to stop a plane from leaving with foreigners denied entry by the Executive Order travel ban; in court, assisting a legal team representing a young man held at the Northwest Detention Center; and at numerous presentations where information critical for immigrants and their advocates is shared.

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Barón came to the United States at the age of 13 with his mother who was attending graduate school in Virginia. His father is a television producer in Colombia. As a child, Barón appeared numerous times on his father’s TV show and later on a Sunday kids program.

“Barón’s passion for advocacy with and on behalf of immigrants is firmly rooted in his own immigrant experience,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Emiko Tajima. “He is an inspiration to us all as we pursue social justice for marginalized groups locally and globally.”

A graduate of Duke University and Yale Law School, Barón joined NWIRP as a staff attorney for two years before becoming executive director in 2008. More than a decade later, in the throes of the nation’s post-election immigration debate, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has called Barón one of his “legal heroes” for his exemplary immigration work.

NWIRP was founded in 1984 initially to help refugees from Central America. The group, which provides free or low-cost legal services, is the largest such organization in the West, with a budget of $6.5 million and a staff of 70.

The School’s graduation celebration will take place Thursday, June 8 at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The program begins at 6 p.m. and includes a welcome, award recognitions and the keynote address, followed by the graduation celebration. A reception will follow.

For more information about the graduation celebration, visit our graduation page.