Magnolia Zarraga graduated cum laude with distinction in 2003 she received a B.A. in Collaborative Health and Human Services from Cal State Monterey Bay prior to obtaining a JD from Monterey College of Law.
Magnolia Zarraga was born & raised in Salinas California. Her parents and grandparents were immigrant farmworkers in the Salinas Valley. During her time at CSUMB Magnolia volunteered as an intern at the Monterey County Victim Witness program and prior to that she also worked as a Domestic Violence and sexual assault counselor at the Women’s Crisis Center. Magnolia worked at a couple of other law firms before opening her own Immigration Practice in Salinas.
Magnolia’s law practice is focused on a range of immigration issues including humanitarian, family based immigration, and removal defense. Magnolia is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association; she has been an attorney for 9 years & has an eleven-year-old daughter.
Magnolia’s maternal grandfather Juan worked as a bracero (a Mexican laborer allowed into the U.S. for a limited time as a seasonal agricultural worker) in the 1950s, and split his time between Mexico and the U.S. to work in the fields.
Magnolia said her grandfather spoke of the many times he crossed the border, sometimes with a contract and other times undocumented. He has since passed away, but he told his granddaughter that he was so used to running from immigration that even after he became a citizen, he would run whenever he saw immigration, out of habit, forgetting that he was already legal and didn’t have to run anymore.
Magnolia remembers that as a child her parents worked very hard in the local celery, broccoli, strawberry fields and nurseries, after a long day in the fields they took English classes. “I remember my mom taking me to work with her many times. My parents struggled like so many new immigrants, but they instilled in me the love for hard work and education because they saw this as the only way to a better life out of the backbreaking fieldwork.
Magnolia has volunteered her expertise and knowledge at many immigration forums, her goal is to spread knowledge on immigration issues in general, answer peoples’ questions and help alleviate the fear people have under the current administration.
Magnolia’s dedication to serve the community stems from her mother’s passion to help others. “As soon as my mom mastered English, I remember she began volunteering with local non-profits, teaching ESL classes to others and helping people with their citizenship applications “Just like my mom, I am passionate about giving back to my community and I believe that education is the way to create a positive change.”