Non-profit

Texas Civil Rights Project

Location:

Austin, TX, United States

Tax ID:

74-1995879

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $2,127,163
Expenses: $2,205,451
Assets: $2,343,970

Formation:

1990

President:

Mimi Marziani

The Texas Civil Rights Project is a is a left-leaning legal organization that provides legal services to illegal immigrants and opposes election integrity measures.

James C. Harrington founded in the Texas Civil Rights Project in 1990. He was a supporter of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. The current president is Mimi Marziani.

Background

James Harrington, a native of Michigan, moved to South Texas in 1973 to help efforts by the United Farm Workers in the Rio Grande Valley as a community organizer and lawyer. The Texas Civil Rights Project says Harrington’s legal work helped the farmworkers gain workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment benefits and handwashing facilities. He went to Austin in 1983 to promote public policy and eventually worked as the legal director for the Texas Civil Liberties Union (now ACLU of Texas), the state’s affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He started the Texas Civil Rights Project in 1990 in Austin and retired in 2015.

In February 2016, Mimi Mariziani became the organization’s president. Mariziani came to the job with experience supporting left-wing positions on election administration laws at a time when the organization was opposing election integrity legislation. [1]

The Texas Supreme Court created the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to pay out fees collected from lawyers to support access to legal defense. Since 1991, this quango was the largest contributor to the TCRP. In July 2017, Texas Access to Justice Foundation stopped funding TCRP, which lost grants equivalent to 40 percent of its budget, or $900,000 in funding. The TCRP accused the foundation of being political over immigration and voting rights matters. [2]

Politicized Shift

Texas Civil Rights Project has sued the state of Texas over laws to combat illegal immigration, such as SB 4 that penalized sanctuary cities. The organization has also fought state laws to promote election integrity. [3]

Texas Civil Rights Project founder James Harrington retired in 2015 and in 2017 criticized the organization for becoming too political. Harrington told the Texas Observer: “We were very controversial … but everything we were doing was always related to the community [. . .] It wasn’t picking up these sort of hot-button liberal issues like redistricting or SB 4.” Harrington said that organization should have let other organizations handle more political litigation. [4]

In 2018, after the TCRP closed its El Paso office, citing budget concerns, Harrington said when he retired the group with $1.2 million in the bank. “The really sad thing about this is this was an office that we put there because the community asked for it, and it did tremendous work,” Harrington told the Austin Chronicle. [5]

Leadership

Mimi Marziani became president of Texas Civil Rights Project after practicing election law in New York City. She came to Texas as the legal director of the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Wendy Davis in 2014. [6]

Beth Stevens is the voting rights program director for the TCRP. Efren C. Olivares is the racial and economic justice program director and Stephanie Schweitzer Garza is the development director. [7]

Kenneth S. Marks is the chairman of the TCRP board of directors. Carlos Moctezuma Garcia is the vice chairman of the board. Other board members are Alan Schoenbaum, Gina Karam Millin, Oscar Rodriguez, Rita Lucido, Tom Gutting, Alex Andrade, Carla Powers and Lisa Gonima. [8]

Dallas lawyer Mandy Price resigned from the board in November 2017, alleging racism in the organization in her letter. [9]

Opposing Election Integrity Measures

The TCRP joined a coalition of legal groups in 2018 to defend a Rendon, Texas woman named Crystal Mason for illegal voting. Mason was a convicted felon on supervised release, but cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 election. She was sentenced to five years in state prison. (The ballot was not counted.) The TCRP was joined by the ACLU Voting Rights Project in defense of Mason. Mason initially convicted for federal tax fraud in 2011 was later charged with violating her parole. Mason claimed she did not realize felons could not vote in Texas. [10]

The TCRP issued a report in March 2019 claiming that 277,000 Texans faced problems with voting in the November 2018 election. It cited voting machine malfunctions and a lack of polling stations at Texas university campuses. The report also blamed “antiquated election infrastructure” that will create problems for the 2020 elections if not addressed. [11]

Defending Illegal Immigrants

The TCRP issued a report in February 2019 claiming that the Trump administration continued to separate parents from children even after the administration announced in summer 2018 it had discontinued the “zero tolerance” policy at the southern border. The report examined the McAllen, Texas border sector from June 22 to Dec. 17, 2018, spanning the time after the policy formally ended. The report claimed to find 38 cases of parents and legal guardians separated from their children.

However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the TCRP “published a flawed report without asking for or including input” from the federal agency. CBP added that the report used bad data to draw its conclusion, including “all types of familial relationships without regard to the statutory definition.” [12]

References

  1. Our History. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://texascivilrightsproject.org/who-we-are/about-us/ ^
  2. Bova, Gus. “Civil Rights Group’s Budget Nearly Halved by Foundation With Ties to Texas Supreme Court.” Texas Observer. Sept. 19, 2017. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://www.texasobserver.org/civil-rights-groups-budget-nearly-halved-foundation-ties-texas-supreme-court/ ^
  3. Bova, Gus. “Civil Rights Group’s Budget Nearly Halved by Foundation With Ties to Texas Supreme Court.” Texas Observer. Sept. 19, 2017. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://www.texasobserver.org/civil-rights-groups-budget-nearly-halved-foundation-ties-texas-supreme-court/ ^
  4. Bova, Gus. “Civil Rights Group’s Budget Nearly Halved by Foundation With Ties to Texas Supreme Court.” Texas Observer. Sept. 19, 2017. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://www.texasobserver.org/civil-rights-groups-budget-nearly-halved-foundation-ties-texas-supreme-court/ ^
  5. Hernandez, Nina. “A Change in Director for the Texas Civil Rights Project.” Austin Chronicle. August 3, 2018. Accessed June 8, 2019. https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2018-08-03/a-change-in-direction-for-the-texas-civil-rights-project/ ^
  6. Hernandez, Nina. “A Change in Director for the Texas Civil Rights Project.” Austin Chronicle. August 3, 2018. Accessed June 8, 2019. https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2018-08-03/a-change-in-direction-for-the-texas-civil-rights-project/ ^
  7. Our Staff. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://texascivilrightsproject.org/who-we-are/our-staff/ ^
  8. Board of Directors. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://texascivilrightsproject.org/who-we-are/our-board-of-directors/ ^
  9. Hernandez, Nina. “A Change in Director for the Texas Civil Rights Project.” Austin Chronicle. August 3, 2018. Accessed June 8, 2019. https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2018-08-03/a-change-in-direction-for-the-texas-civil-rights-project/ ^
  10. Johnson, Kaley. “ACLU, Texas Civil Rights Group to Represent Local Woman Convicted of Illegal Voting.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram. May 10, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/article230273689.html ^
  11. Wallace, Jeremy. “Report: 277,000 Texas Voters Vied With Machine Glitches, Poor Access to Polls and Other Issues in 2018.” Houston Chronicle. March 26, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Report-277-000-Texas-voters-vied-with-machine-13716992.php ^
  12. Silva, Daniella. “Migrant Families Still Being Separated at the Border, Report from Texas Groups Says.” NBC News. February 21, 2019. Accessed June 8, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/migrant-families-still-being-separated-border-report-texas-group-says-n973766 ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1979

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,127,163 $2,205,451 $2,343,970 $11,007 Y $1,854,390 $196,670 $1,932 $116,587
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,991,617 $1,924,581 $2,457,952 $46,701 Y $1,737,701 $284,135 $2,641 $66,017 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,065,480 $2,045,728 $2,376,915 $32,700 Y $1,703,749 $346,404 $1,519 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,313,835 $2,145,575 $2,436,253 $111,790 Y $1,567,096 $267,904 $1,338 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $2,089,796 $1,920,379 $2,243,498 $87,295 Y $1,685,812 $389,205 $1,957 $69,275 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,221,313 $1,858,238 $2,163,952 $162,166 Y $1,785,486 $409,917 $3,311 $66,832 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Texas Civil Rights Project

    1405 MONTOPOLIS DR
    Austin, TX 78741
    United States