a new leader for a better tomorrow
As a former federal public defender, immigrant rights activist, and the leader of the systemic change organization, Workers Defense Project, José P. Garza has a unique view into how our broken criminal justice system works and how it impacts our communities. He believes we can fix it together.
José attended law school at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and worked for Judge Richard W. Roberts in federal district court for the District of Columbia. He returned to Texas to work on the border as an assistant public defender in the first multi-county public defender’s office in Texas at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. While there, José represented clients charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses and won the office’s first acquittal at jury trial. Subsequently, José served as an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Texas where he represented people accused of misdemeanor and felony crimes. In those experiences, he saw first hand the impact our broken criminal justice system has on people of color, working people and poor people, and immigrant families.
In 2010, José returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Deputy General Counsel for the House Committee on Education and Labor. He went on to work as Special Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board where he represented the agency against legal attacks brought by a Republican Congress. He eventually served Secretary Tom Perez as a senior policy official at the U.S. Department of Labor where he worked to ensure that working people and people of color were overrepresented in good jobs not in prisons.
José brings extensive experience building power with communities of color, working families, and immigrant communities across Texas. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Workers Defense Project. During his tenure at Workers Defense, the organization has:
Won significant criminal justice reform in Travis County
through the passage of a “Freedom City” policy that ends arrests for low-level criminal offenses and severs the arrest-to-deportation pipeline.
Won paid sick leave policies
in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas so that guarantees that survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence can seek the care they need without fear of losing their job.
Advocated for the creation of a Public Defender Office
alongside community allies in Travis County that would bring meaningful community oversight.
José is running for Travis County District Attorney so that together, people of color, working people, young people, and women can launch a comprehensive campaign to transform our criminal justice system in our communities.
José, his wife Kate and their two young children, are proud to call Austin home.