Joseph Berra is an attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP). He joined the TCRP staff in 2009 to take over the disability rights docket and bring his experience to bear on the full gamut of civil and human rights cases handled by TCRP. Prior to joining TCRP, Berra had a private practice focusing on immigration, discrimination and employment rights cases. The majority of his life has been spent in community service, public interest and work for social justice. A former Jesuit priest, Berra worked for over a decade in Central America in the 1980s and early 90s. He obtained an MA in anthropology from UT Austin before leaving the Jesuits and receiving a law degree from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio.
As a lawyer, Berra was an Equal Justice Works fellow with Ayuda, Inc. of Washington D.C. While in D.C., he was a volunteer attorney with the Center for Justice in International Law (CEJIL), working on cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He went on to coordinate the Immigrant Rights program of the San Antonio Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). With colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin, Berra is a board member of the Caribbean Central American Research Council (CCARC), a non-profit activist research organization which engages social science research with the struggles of Black and indigenous communities in Central America. Berra was Executive Director of CCARC from 2004-2006.
Among his accomplishments, Berra has won political asylum cases for individuals fleeing persecution from all over the world. He won a major settlement in a racial profiling case against the city of Rogers, Arkansas. He currently represents on a pro bono basis Honduran Garifuna communities and the Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras – OFRANEH) in land rights claims before the Inter-American Commission.