Antonio Bernabe fought for immigrant rights for more than two decades as part of CHIRLA. As an immigrant, day laborer, and family man, he understood and represented the fight of the immigrant rights movement.
LOS ANGELES -- The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the largest immigrant rights organization in California, mourns the passing of its beloved and longtime director of organizing, José Antonio Bernabé Lule. A fierce immigrant rights advocate for more than two decades, Antonio took his last breaths during major announcements on immigration made on the first day of the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
Tony, as CHIRLA members and staff knew him, dedicated his life to fight honestly, humbly, and passionately for the rights of immigrants like himself. Tony passed this week handing the baton of the struggle to others who will follow in his giant footsteps.
He was a family man from Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico who lived in the United States for half of his life making the San Fernando Valley his home. He was a consistent and persistent voice for undocumented immigrants.Tony joined the CHIRLA family in 1997 as an organizer for the day laborer program. Eventually, he became organizing director, making his tireless presence at a constant at local, regional, state, and national protests and legislative visits in pursuit of reforms that would allow immigrants to come out of the shadows. He believed deeply in the leadership and power of immigrants in their struggle for justice.
To honor Tony's legacy, CHIRLA has set up the Bernabe Family Fund. Donations can be made through the CHIRLA website and adding "Bernabe Family Fund" in the NOTES section. Information on a public memorial service will be made available soon.
Please attribute the following statements to Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director:
"Tony was not only a trusted, humble, and hard-working advocate for immigrant rights, he was also a counselor, teacher, and mentor for countless immigrant workers -- men, women, and youth with whom he worked daily. More than that, Tony was the friend strangers could confide in and ask for guidance in trying times.
"Tony was a giant. He carried so many on his shoulders, with the help of his faith and the genuine belief that organizing and empowering community members was the only way to create social change. Our immigrant rights movement will be truly different without him.
Tony leaves behind a supportive wife with an indomitable spirit, loving children and a grandchild, hundreds of immigrants he personally guided, supported, and inspired, and an immigrant rights organization that, because of his decades-long contributions, stands poised to push for and see the fair immigration laws for which he fought so hard through to reality. Long live Tony Bernabé!"