Family Members of New Yorkers Killed by Police Respond to Cuomo’s Latest Comments on Special Prosecutor in Police Killings

Posted on 06/26/2015 @ 05:47 PM

Tags: New York State, Police Reform

In response to Governor Cuomo announcing that he will issue an executive order to authorize the appointment of a special prosecutor for police killings of “unarmed” civilians for one year, a group of the family members of New Yorkers killed by police over past decades, who had led the call for a special prosecutor in all police killings, released the following joint statement.

“While Governor Cuomo has acknowledged our experiences of being repeatedly abused by the criminal justice system through the killing of our loved ones by police and failure to hold officers accountable, he has not held up his end of the commitment to us based on his own words in the past few days. Governor Cuomo agreed that he would authorize appointment of a special prosecutor for all police killings and deaths of people in police custody. His remarks today indicating his intent that the Attorney General's office would only act as a special prosecutor for cases of unarmed people is contrary to what he committed to. The reality is that we have seen police departments claim in initial reports that victims were armed to justify their use of deadly violence only to find out later that wasn’t the case or there is scant evidence, like in the shooting death of Walter Scott in South Carolina. A special prosecutor needs to be able to investigate all cases and make that determination themselves, not restricted by a loophole in an executive order.

“We simply want Governor Cuomo to live up to the commitment he made to us and we remain willing to work with his office to make sure this executive order is done correctly and in accordance with our agreement with him. These substantive issues are too important for justice and the safety of children and families from our communities throughout the state. The executive order must give the Attorney General's office full authority and resources for investigations and prosecution -- in ALL cases where an individual is killed in a police incident or dies in custody of the police, not leaving the merits of an investigation up to local police departments’ or authorities’ accounting of events. It also must not have a sunset date, leaving families and New Yorkers once again at risk and vulnerable to the failures of the criminal justice system and local district attorneys’ conflicts of interest.”

| Comments ()

Vieques 12 Years Later: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

Posted on 05/07/2015 @ 02:34 PM

Tags: Puerto Rico

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post

Twelve years ago if you happened to be standing at the top of Monte Carmelo in Vieques, Puerto Rico, you would notice something different. Perhaps you would notice the collective sigh of relief, of hope, of victory. Or that the wave of visitors being arrested and detained in masse had eased after the United States finally decided to close its military base that had been used for bombing practice. However, standing there today you may still see bombs exploding as the result of detonation, or hear that local lands remain in federal hands or notice that the ferries from Vieques to mainland Puerto Rico are full of Viequenses seeking health services, many for complicated and serious illnesses. Over 70 years after the arrival of the Navy in Vieques, some have called the compounded and continuous human rights violations on the island a crime against humanity.

On May 1, 2003, the United States Navy finally closed its naval base, the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Area in Vieques after 60 years of using the island to carry out military practices that included live target practice involving bombing and the use of biochemical agents such as Agent Orange, depleted uranium, napalm and white phosphorus. The Navy's arrival in 1941 lead to mass displacement and the expropriation of about 75 percent of the island. For decades, Viequenses were exposed to toxic chemicals, including heavy metals, that have contaminated their bodies, land and water. The killing of David Sanes, a civilian guard on duty in the Naval base, by a 500 pound errant bomb set off a wave of protests, civil disobedience and arrests by thousands of Puerto Ricans and visitors from across the world who said "basta ya!" to the military legacy and toxicity of the Navy's presence and activities. After several years of consistent protests and visits by prominent figures, the U.S. government finally succumbed to international pressure and closed the base.

While many remember that victorious moment, the modern-day realities facing Viequenses are less known. The people of Vieques continue to suffer from disproportionately high rates of grave illnesses, including cancer, hypertension, kidney failure, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The level of health services in Vieques remains what it was twelve years ago. A small percent of the lands controlled by the federal government have been returned to local control, while the overwhelming majority were merely transferred from one federal agency to another.

As a result of the extreme health and environmental damage caused by the Navy's practices, Vieques was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005, meaning the site requires a special protocol for cleanup and decontamination procedures because of its level of toxicity. Despite such protocols, the Navy and its contractor, CH2MHill, engage in the use of open-air bombing as a means of detonating found munitions. They also engage in the questionable practice of open-air burning of vegetation as an economical means of finding munitions, both of which have been criticized as exacerbating existing environmental and health damage. There exists no adequate civilian oversight mechanism for a community of dominant Spanish speakers who have been isolated and disengaged from participating in the cleanup process and understanding its ramifications.

The United States has consistently maintained a position of non-liability for its actions in Vieques. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the Center for Disease Control, has been heavily critiqued by scientists and Congress alike for it's "finding" of no ''credible scientific evidence'' to support a relationship between decades of military toxic use and civilian health consequences and environmental damage. The Navy continues to insist that open-air detonation of bombs does not contribute to air pollution since the chemicals released are already naturally occurring; however they are quick to caution residents and visitors not to approach or touch such munitions. They have been suspected of engaging in open-air burning of vegetation to quickly locate munitions at a fraction of the cost, an act that the EPA has said would be unlawful under local law (the Navy has admitted that even tearing up the dense vegetation to clear the remainder of the debris would hurt the nature reserve, much less burning it). In the many lawsuits filed against the United States, including one by LatinoJustice years ago, the government has consistently asserted the antiquated defense of sovereign immunity, insisting their actions are justified by national security reasons and therefore not subject to judicial scrutiny. There are no longer domestic forums available for Viequenses to seek justice, which is why we have asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous organism and quasi-judicial human rights body of the Organization of American States, to look into the situation.

After almost 75 years of exploitation, the people of Vieques have been very clear in their demands: return of all federally controlled lands to the people and municipality of Vieques; adequate and thorough decontamination of all land and water; demilitarization of their land; and locally controlled development. None of those demands have yet been met in full. Just this month, a group of independent scientists met in Puerto Rico to discuss their ongoing concern regarding the state of health and environmental damage in Vieques. And their concern is well-founded - the Navy estimated that they have so far removed 90,000 munitions items; 40,000 of which have been destroyed through demolition. However it has been estimated that the cleanup could take another 14 years, and even then the Navy presumes that not all munitions will be found, "regardless of the level of cleanup." Instead, the Navy has proposed posting warning signs or fencing off areas from the public, which would limit any potential use of the land and relieves them of any responsibility for possible ecological damage that may surface in a toxic site left contaminated and unattended.

Concretely, the United States must be held accountable for its actions that have intentionally violated the most fundamental human rights of the people of Vieques and have led to loss of life and compromised health. The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization has consistently called for an adequate decontamination effort in Vieques and return of the lands to local control. This past week, several members of Congress called for the U.S. to reexamine its efforts and commitment to the people of Vieques. There have been renewed calls by the scientific community to ensure that the U.S. adequately funds a full and complete decontamination effort in Vieques, not just a cleanup (the Navy has consistently stated that for ten years it has spent close to $20 million per year in Vieques, yet "cleanup" has not necessarily meant "decontamination"). And the people of Vieques have consistently demanded that their own government of Puerto Rico address and remedy the lack of adequate health services in Vieques, which forces residents to spend hours and sometimes days traveling to the main island to seek healthcare. Despite a resolution from the Puerto Rican House of Representatives reaffirming their commitment to justice in Vieques, residents have yet to see concrete actions taken on their behalf.

The United States, which was one of only four countries that recently opposed the United Nations General Assembly's fifth resolution on depleted uranium, has yet to put forward or implement a comprehensive plan that would adequately address the health, environmental, land use and economic concerns residents of Vieques have that stem from decades of military use and abuse. In 2013, Congress approved legislation that asked the Navy to make public and easily accessible historical records on the use, type and frequency of munitions used in Vieques, a request that has still not been satisfied.

In 2008 when then Senator Obama was campaigning, he pledged to "closely monitor the health of the people of Vieques and promote appropriate remedies to health conditions caused by military activities conducted by the U.S. Navy on Vieques." Today, seven years after that promise and 74 years after the invasion of the Navy in Vieques, justice remains delayed and denied. The "appropriate remedies" mentioned by Obama must mean economic, environmental and health justice with the full input and participation of the people of Vieques. And not in several years when yet another generation will struggle with high rates of asthma, respiratory illnesses and developmental and learning disabilities (known side effects of exposure to mercury), as young Viequenses currently do. The United States and the government of Puerto Rico must look beyond the bare minimum required to "cleanup" Vieques, and instead must adequately fund, support and facilitate a full decontamination and health effort. Anything less is ineffective and unjust. After decades of battling the residual toxicity left behind, residents demand a true "paz para Vieques", which is only possible through justice.

| Comments ()

LatinoJustice supports recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction

Posted on 01/20/2015 @ 02:23 PM

Tags: Juvenile Justice


CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or

New York State must raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to make it consistent with 48 other states and must also revamp how the entire judicial system deals with adolescent offenders, according to a commission tasked with studying juvenile justice and providing the Governor with recommendations for change.The Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice released its report today.

Presently, New York, along with North Carolina, is one of only two states that prosecute children as adults and places them in an adult criminal justice system. New York presently prosecutes all youth as adults when they turn sixteen years of age, the year when juvenile jurisdiction ends.

The Commission made a total of 38 recommendations, with the top two being to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 and to raise the lower the age of juvenile jurisdiction to twelve, except for homicide offenses, which should be raised to 10.

LatinoJustice President and General Counsel Juan Cartagena served on the Commission. The Commission included judges, police officers, academics, social justice advocates, funders and elected officials.

“Another critically important recommendation here is to immediately remove 16 and 17-years-olds from adult prisons and jails. Every single study we’ve seen tells us that there are serious risks in putting adolescents in adult prison populations,” said Cartagena. “These youngsters are more likely to be physically beaten and abused than if they were in juvenile facilities. Tragically, the rate of youths committing suicide when they are incarcerated with adults is 36 times higher than when confined to juvenile facilities. This could finally place New York among the states that use the best thinking about the development and maturity of adolescent minds.”


Black and Hispanic youth make up 33 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds statewide. However they also comprise 72 percent of all arrests and 77 percent of all felony arrests across the state. Young men of color constitute 82 percent of youth sentenced to adult confinement, according to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

In 2015, 800 inmates in local jails and state prisons were under eighteen years old. They are twice as likely to be physically harmed by other inmates and staff, five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and eight times more likely to commit suicide per the Campaign for Youth Justice.

“We trust the governor will use all of his powers to secure appropriate legislation and to make these reforms a reality,” Cartagena said.

| Comments ()

Free Oscar Lopez

Posted on 01/06/2015 @ 11:41 AM

Tags: Puerto Rico, Clemency

On January 6, 2015 LatinoJustice PRLDEF, La Respuesta magazine and National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) call on you to act on behalf of the Puerto Rican people’s longest-held political prisoner.

Read Juan Cartagena's latest op-ed on Clemency for Oscar Lopez Rivera.

The worldwide campaign calls for 100,000 messages to the twitter accounts of the President, White House, and Justice Department on January 6, 2015, Oscar’s birthday and the Day of the Epiphany/ Three Kings, the holiest day in his Puerto Rico homeland.

This January 6, 2015, on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or any other platform you use, post using the hashtags #FreeOscarLopez, and #Gift4Oscar. On Twitter, make sure to tag @BarackObama so that the man with the power to release him hears our demands.

Oscar, who was born on Three King’s Day, has become the Puerto Rican nation’s shining star, able to unite a people facing the divisive effects of a more than one-hundred year colonial occupation. Now, more than ever, the Puerto Rican people have come together in a way that presents U.S. President Barack Obama every reason to exercise his power of pardon and release Oscar. Let’s use social media for social change and send the clear message: RELEASE OSCAR NOW, 33 YEARS IS TOO MUCH!

Tweet your message to Barack Obama Click below:

.@BarackObama exercise your power of pardon and #FreeOscarLopez! 33 Years is Enough! We urge you to pardon him! #Gift4Oscar on his bday.

For more info, email

Campaña de medios sociales en el cumpleaños de Oscar López Rivera

El 6 de enero de 2015 LatinoJustice PRLDEF, la revista La Respuesta y Red Nacional Boricua Pro Derechos Humanos (NBHRN) hacen un llamado a la acción pro la liberación del prisionero puertorriqueño que más tiempo lleva encarcelado.

La campaña mundial espera conseguir 100,000 mensajes a las cuentas de Twitter del presidente y del Departamento de Justicia el 6 de enero de 2015, el día de cumpleaños de Oscar y el Día de los Reyes Magos, el día más sagrado en su tierra natal Puerto Rico.

Este 6 de enero de 2015, en Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram o en cualquier otra plataforma que utilice, haga publicaciones utilizando los hashtags #LibertadOscarLopez y #RegaloPaOscar y #BarackObama. En Twitter, asegúrese de etiquetar @BarackObama para que la persona con el poder de liberarlo oiga nuestras demandas. Les exhortamos a que comiencen a planificar para asegurarse de que todos seamos escuchados al unísono el 6 de enero. Les exhortamos a que comiencen a planificar para asegurarse de que todos seamos escuchados al unísono el 6 de enero.

Oscar, nacido el Día de los Reyes, se ha convertido en la brillante estrella de la nación puertorriqueña, capaz de unir a las personas que enfrentan los efectos divisores de una ocupación colonial de más de cien años. Ahora, más que nunca, el pueblo puertorriqueño se ha unido para presentarle al presidente de Estados Unidos Barack Obama motivos para ejercer su facultad de indulto y para que libere a Oscar. Utilicemos las redes sociales para lograr un cambio y enviar un mensaje claro: ¡LIBERE A OSCAR AHORA, 33 AÑOS ES DEMASIADO!

Para más información, escriba a

| Comments ()

The Affordable Care Act and Voting Rights: Good Medicine for the Future of our Democracy

Posted on 12/08/2014 @ 04:31 PM

Tags: Voting Rights Legislation, Healthcare

By Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram
Originally published in Huffington Post: Click here to read

On the heels of the midterm elections this November, many voting rights scholars, analysts and commentators opined on the multiple barriers placed in front of voters this election, particularly the heavy burden borne by many voters of color. Many recently enacted restrictive voting laws only increased confusion and further limited the opportunities of otherwise eligible voters to participate.

Appallingly, since striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed restrictive voting laws to go into effect in Ohio, North Carolina, and Texas, despite a lower court’s 2014 finding that the new restrictive voter I.D. law in Texas was racially motivated, purposefully discriminatory and tantamount to a twenty-first century poll tax.

Yet, there is another form of voter disenfranchisement that impacts more low-income voters, young people, seniors, African American and Latina/o voters than all of the recent voting restrictions, combined: the failure of the federal government to adequately comply with its own law -- the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Over the last 20 years, the NVRA has enabled millions of Americans to register to vote by requiring voter registration services at public assistance offices within each state.

When our federal government provides public access to an application for basic health insurance and public assistance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and it fails to provide equal access to adequate voter registration services in the same transaction, however, the federal government may be operating in violation of the NVRA.

An estimated 42 million uninsured Americans who lacked health insurance in 2013 have new opportunities to enroll through the ACA. However, if you were to apply for health insurance over the phone today from one of the federally-run health exchanges in one of 27 states, including Florida, Ohio, North Carolina or Texas, you would probably not receive any voter registration services.

If you were to apply online at or via paper application, you might be asked whether you want to register to vote, but the question would not include the statutorily-required language or disclosures under the NVRA. Currently, applicants must also go through the burdensome process of downloading and printing a 25- page document, filling out the voter registration application by hand, and mailing it to the appropriate state election officials.

The Civil Rights Committee for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), led by LatinoJustice PRLDEF and MALDEF, sent a letter to the White House on November 7, calling for immediate action from President Obama, urging him to direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to bring the federally-run health exchanges into full compliance with the NVRA.

Among other obligations, NHLA notes that the NVRA would require federally-run exchanges to:

  • Distribute voter registration application forms;
  • Ask applicants, in writing, whether they would like to register to vote or update their voter registration address;
  • Inform applicants, in writing: 1) that no one may interfere with their right to register to vote; 2) or infringe their right to privacy while registering; and, 3) or interfere with their right to choose a political party;
  • Assist applicants in completing the voter registration application form with the same degree of assistance provided for completing the health benefits application form, including providing language assistance; and
  • Accept completed voter registration application forms and submit them to appropriate state officials within 10 days of receipt or within 5 days if the last voting registration day is 5 days away.

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that only 58.7 percent of adult Latina/o U.S. citizens were registered to vote in 2012. Given that more than 10.2 million uninsured Latina/os in the U.S. now have new opportunities to apply for publicly-subsidized health insurance coverage and public assistance programs through the ACA health benefit exchanges, ensuring compliance with the NVRA can only be good medicine for the future of our democracy.

Twitter: @LJPJoanna

Joanna Cuevas Ingram works with LatinoJustice PRLDEF (LJP) on a range of prgrams such as the Latinas at Work (LAW) initiative. LatinoJustice PRLDEF is nonprofit civil rights organization, based in New York, works to improve political, economic, social, and educational equality for Latin@s. A graduate of U.C. Davis School of Law admitted to practice in California, Mrs. Cuevas Ingram’s work is published in the Harvard Latino Law Review, North Carolina Law Review and Daily Journal; her work has also been featured in Immigration Prof Blog, the L.A. Times, Sacramento Bee and San José Mercury News.

| Comments ()

LatinoJustice joins amicus brief filed in Iowa Supreme Court Voter Purge case (ACLU v. Schultz)

Posted on 12/07/2014 @ 11:55 AM

Tags: Advocacy, iowa, Voter Protection

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in late July 2012 - only 4 months before the November 2012 general presidential election, unilaterally adopted two new administrative rules which would permit him to purge purported “non-citizens” from Iowa’s voter rolls. The new emergency rules (1) make it easier for people to make allegations of voter fraud with fewer consequences for making false allegations (Voter Complaint Rule); and, (2) allow the Secretary of State to conduct a purge of Iowa’s then highly reliable, accurate voter registration list (Voter Purge Rule). The challenged rules would allow the state to compare the names of registered voters to various databases including out of date driver’s license information and then send letters to suspected non-citizens requiring those voters to prove their citizenship in order to remain on the rolls.

The ACLU of IOWA in August 2012 petitioned the Iowa District Court for Polk County for judicial review of agency action and were granted a temporary injunction and a stay of the Implementation of the proposed administrative rules in September 2012 finding that the Secretary of State failed to justify his use of emergency rulemaking process, and circumventing public notice and comment given the attempted rules abrogated a qualified citizen’s fundamental right to vote. The Iowa court in March 2014 subsequently granted the petitioner’s motion for Judgment on the Merits, and entered an order enjoining the Secretary of State from enforcing administrative rules finding that he exceeded his statutory authority to promulgate the emergency voter registration purge rules inasmuch as there is no statutory basis allowing the Secretary of State to remove a voter for purported “lack of citizenship” inasmuch as he also lacked authority to use federal SAVE database. The Secretary of State then appealed claiming the rules do not disturb qualified voters’ voting rights.

LatinoJustice joined the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF), the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) in the amicus brief filed in September 2015. The amicus brief which was drafted by MALDEF, O’Melveny & Myers LLP in California, and Rush & Nicholson PLC in Iowa focuses on the particular vulnerability of naturalized citizen voters who are more likely to be identified as non-citizens, and thus more likely to be faced with the burden of having to provide citizenship documents in order to be permitted to remain on the voter rolls. Amici further contend that the Voter Purge Rule impermissibly endangers naturalized citizens’ right to vote because naturalized citizens are more likely to be misidentified as non-citizens, thereby imposing a costly burden on naturalized citizens to prove their citizenship and impinging upon their right to vote as well as a chilling effect on voter registration by newly naturalized citizens, and, therefore resulting in an adverse impact on all naturalized Latino voters.

LatinoJustice had previously successfully enjoined the Florida Secretary of State’s 2012 attempt to purge purported non-citizens in 2012 before the general election. The initial purge, which flagged nearly 2,700 registered Florida voters as alleged non-citizens, disproportionately affected voters of color. More than 82% of the voters who received notice letters were people of color, and many turned out to be eligible citizens. The parties in 2012 settled a separate discrimination claim in Arcia v. Detzner whereby Florida agreed to immediately cease its purge. In a subsequent appeal of the District Court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ voting rights claim, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in an amended November 2014 ruling found that Florida’s Summer 2012 voter purge of suspected non-citizens violated the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), because systematic removal programs are barred within 90 days of a federal election. In the majority opinion, Circuit Court Judge Beverly B. Martin concluded that the NVRA bars Florida from systematically removing voters from the rolls using the Department of Homeland Security’s federal immigration database known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE), within 90 days of any federal election. Judge Martin found that “Eligible voters removed days or weeks before Election Day will likely not be able to correct the State’s errors in time to vote, which is why the 90 Day Provision strikes a careful balance: It permits systematic removal programs at any time except for the 90 days before an election because that is when the risk of disfranchising eligible voters is the greatest.”

Plaintiffs in included two Miami citizens wrongly targeted as non-citizens under Florida’s voter purge, and several organizational plaintiffs including the Florida Immigrant Coalition, National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East-Florida. Led Jenner & Block LLP, the legal team included a coalition of civil rights groups including LatinoJustice, the Advancement Project, Fair Elections Legal Network, and Project Vote -- as well as SEIU and the Law Offices of Chavez & De Leon, P.A. in Miami.

Download and read the brief here.

By Catherine Barreda, NYLS Class of 2015 and LatinoJustice Legal Intern Fall 2014.

| Comments ()

TAKE ACTION: #JusticeForEric Garner Join Us!

Posted on 12/03/2014 @ 04:44 PM

"Where is the accountability, respect,& courtesy to our communities?" Asked Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel.

We invite you to join LatinoJustice PRLDEF on Thursday, December 4th as we march for justice for Eric Garner and all the lives lost to police brutality in NY and across the nation. THIS STOPS NOW!

Join us at 3:30pm to make posters in our office, then march with us at 5:30pm at Foley Square. Look for the LJP Banner and join us!

| Comments ()


Posted on 12/03/2014 @ 12:33 PM

ALL OVER THE U.S. On Wednesday December 3, more than 43 U.S. cities will participate in an unprecedented national mobilization to demand an end to the deadly “Plan Mexico,” a multibillion-dollar program to aid Mexico’s corrupt and notoriously violent security forces, ostensibly in the name of fighting the so-called War on Drugs.

In the wake of the extreme human rights crisis in Mexico that was exposed by the recent disappearance of the 43 students in the state of Guerrero, thousands of people from across the United States will march in front of federal buildings in their respective cities and other locations (at various times: for a full list of participating cities, locations, and times go to ) to call on the Obama Administration and Congress to stop US funneling billions of tax dollars of military aid, training and coordination to Mexico’s military and police forces, which are widely known to be perpetrating massive human rights violations, including the September kidnapping of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

"Once again, the people of Mexico lead the way in starting a sane discussion on failed U.S. drug policies. In Mexico alone since 2007 100,000 murders plus 25,000 disappeared all due to misguided U.S. War on Drugs policies. LatinoJustice PRLDEF supports the families of the missing students of Ayotzinapa. We too are tired of the same U.S. policies." Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

In order to put a human face on the tragedy of U.S. drug war policies in Mexico, each of the 43 cities will raise up images and tell the story of one of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa. Students from Ayotzinapa who survived the attacks and disappearances sent a video message inviting the people of the United States to join #USTired2’s December 3 actions.

This day of action is being organized by the all-volunteer campaign #USTired2, a broad and diverse network of communities connected to Mexico. #USTired2 emerged as the English-language counterpart to the #YaMeCansé* campaign that has swept Mexico, as people across the country have stood up to declare that they are tired of the state violence, human rights abuses and widespread impunity – all aided by billions of U.S. tax dollars.

*The #YaMeCansé hashtag originated from a response given by Mexico’s Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, at a press conference about the 43 students, during which he ended the Q&A portion by saying “Ya Me Cansé” (“I’ve had enough” or “I’m tired”) in an attempt to evade questions from journalists. Murillo Karam’s response instantly sparked outrage among protesters and students across the country, giving birth to the hashtag campaign and a new wave of mass demonstrations throughout Mexico.

“The fact that our country is funding police and other human rights-abusing security forces through ‘Plan Mexico’ makes the disappearance of the 43 students and all the state violence in Mexico our issue here in the United States,” said Roberto Lovato, one of the founders of #USTired2. “The time has come to end ‘Plan Mexico’ – because for many of us, Mexico is not a ‘foreign policy’ issue. Mexico is family, especially for the more than 35 million people of Mexican descent living in the U.S. And for the sake of these families, we have decided to hold vigils for the dead and disappeared, vigils that will mark the beginning of the end of the failed Mexico “drug war” policies of our government.”

In Mexico, more than 100,000 people have been murdered and more than 25,000 have been disappeared since the beginning of Plan Merida – many thousands of whom were killed by the same security forces our US tax dollars are paying for. The majority of this violence is perpetrated by Mexican security forces, which are widely known to collaborate with the drug trafficking organizations and other criminal syndicates. The cornerstone of “Plan Mexico” is the multi-billion dollar Plan Merida, a security aid program implemented in 2007, which President Obama has promised to continue “indefinitely.”

Continuing Plan Merida also runs counter to US law. The Leahy Law prohibits the State Department or Defense Department from providing military assistance to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

Under Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the government’s human rights abuses are the worst the region has seen in decades, according to human rights organizations. “I don't know of a single case of this magnitude in real time in all of Latin America in the last 30 years," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas Director of Human Rights Watch. "Impunity is the only explanation,” he added.

For a full list of participating cities, go to

| Comments ()

Meet Our 2014 Fall Interns

Posted on 09/29/2014 @ 12:02 PM

Get to know Catherine Barreda

Where are you originally from and where do u live now?
Born in South Texas, raised in Austin, TX, and currently live in Brooklyn, NY.

What law school do you attend?
New York Law School

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I wanted to intern at LJP to learn how impact litigation cases are done, especially cases that I find extremely interesting and important (immigrants' rights, voting rights, and police misconduct).

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
Growing up in Texas, I witnessed the rights of several groups compromised on a daily basis. In South Texas, I witnessed adults and children desperately fighting for a chance to make it across the border. During my time as a Youth Advocate in Austin, working with teens struggling with chemical dependency issues, I was continually reminded of how juveniles are often overlooked and unheard. These experiences, coupled with my eagerness to learn, led me to pursue a legal education so that I may better advocate for the recognition and expansion of rights for all.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Careful! We might request you make it for us!)
My cooking habits tend to be seasonal - in the summertime, I enjoy making homemade pickles (watermelon is a favorite), different kinds of salads, and homemade dressings. In the fall, I enjoy making soups and experimenting with various root vegetable/mashed potato combos. And in the winter, I want to bake all weekend, every weekend.

What is a hidden talent?
Knitting - I love to sit and knit gifts for friends/family.

What is your motto or philosophy?
Don't give up before the miracle happens.

Favorite sport or team?
University of Texas Longhorns

Get to know Alex Cárdenas

Where are you originally from and where do you live now?
Originally from Los Angeles, CA and now living in Long Island City.

What law school do you attend?
Fordham University School of Law

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I wanted hands-on experience with litigation and also wanted to work with an organization that has the Latino community first and foremost in their work efforts.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
I would like to be a lawyer so that I can continue to advocate for the Latino and Immigrant communities.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Careful! We might request you make it for us!)
Carne asada with a fresh salsa and guacamole.

What is a hidden talent?
I am very good with languages. I speak three fluently and also know several phrases in a few other languages.

What is your motto or philosophy?
This is only a moment in time.

Favorite sport or team?
The Mexican National Soccer Team.

Get to know Ginna Barrios Aguero

Where are you originally from and where do u live now?
Paraguay and Brazil. I currently live in Astoria, Queens.

What law school do you attend?
Brooklyn Law School.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I wanted to Intern at LJP because I am extremely passionate about immigration law and social justice. Immigration is an area of law that directly impacts my life, my family, and my community in general. I am particularly interested in the DREAM Act movement, and hope to not only witness a positive forthcoming change in this movement, but to also be a part of it. I know that an externship experience at Latino Justice will provide me with the analytical and practical skills that are necessary for me to be able to eventually develop strategies necessary for challenging discriminatory laws, and in this manner, be able to one day provide my community with quality representation in litigating on a high-impact level.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
I want to become a lawyer because I believe in fairness and human equality. Law affects every aspect of our lives, which has motivated me to learn more about the interpretation of the law. Becoming a lawyer is the most practical and effective way in which I can effectively advocate for the under-represented, and the changes that I want to see in my community.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Careful! We might request you make it for us!) 
Does pasta count?

What is a hidden talent?
Dancing salsa.

What is your motto or philosophy?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Favorite sport or team?
My favorite sport is soccer, and my favorite team is the Brazilian national soccer team.

Get to know Kelsey Carol Burke

Where are you originally from and where do u live now?
I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, raised in Palm Beach County, Florida since I was 10 years old. I moved to Orlando two years ago to attend Law School.

What law school do you attend?
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical College of Law

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I learned about LJP through Franco Torres, a former LJP intern who who referred me to LJP. I believe and appreciate LJP’s mission to protect opportunities for all Latinos to succeed and LJP’s assistance to DREAMers, like Caesar Vargas and myself, to be admitted to practice law and to fulfill our dreams.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
I have seen and experienced what a broken system, particularly a broken immigration system, does to our families, communities, and the individual hardships we must endure in pursuit of the American Dream. I want to become a lawyer because I believe in higher education, I believe in using that education to assist my family and community. I hope that by becoming a lawyer I can make a positive difference in changing our broken immigration system.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Careful! We might request you make it for us!) 

What is a hidden talent?
I don’t believe I have one. I enjoy writing.

What is your motto or philosophy?
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

Favorite sport or team?

Get to know Julisa A. Medina

Where are you originally from and where do u live now?
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Allentown Pennsylvania, currently living in Maspeth, Queens.

What law school do you attend?
Pace Law School

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I met Jose at the NYU Public Interest Fair my 1L year. After speaking with him that day, I became very interested in the work LJP does. After this meeting I knew I wanted to be apart of an organization that was passionate about working for the Latino/a community and make lasting changes for our communities nationwide.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
Since I was a little girl I've always wanted to fight for those who could not fight for themselves. You can ask my younger cousins.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Careful! We might request you make it for us!) 
Arroz con gandules and homemade macaroni and cheese

What is a hidden talent?
Before law school, I was the National Step Director for my sorority, Mu Sigma Upsilon, Sorority, Inc.

What is your motto or philosophy?
All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed. I get this from Luke 17:6 "And the Lord said, if you had faith as a grain of mustard seed you could say unto this sycamine tree, Be plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea; and it would obey you."

Favorite sport or team?
I dont really have a favorite sport but my favorite teams are the Yankees and the Knicks

Get to know Peter Garcia

Where are you originally from and where do u live now?
I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I currently live in Clifton, NJ

What law school do you attend?
Pace University School of Law

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I want to learn how to be a great trial attorney, about big-impact civil rights matters, and, most importantly, how I can make a positive, meaningful impact in my community. I chose to intern at LatinoJustice because I can achieve all three of these goals at one place.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
I never thought about becoming a lawyer, especially since I was not surrounded by any lawyers growing up. I decided to pursue law after a few years of experience in Compliance. I believed a law degree was the next logically step to advance in the securities regulation field. Now that I am in law school, I realized, with my law degree, I can change the world. So the reason I want to become a lawyer is to not only provide financially for my family, but to also make a long lasting difference in my community.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Careful! We might request you make it for us!) 
While I can eat pretty much anything (except for fish, unless it is fried or sushi), I love pasta! I can make a delicious burger, though.

What is a hidden talent?
I don’t know if this is much of a talent, but I am a pretty good wrestler. (I used to be on the wrestling team when I was younger.)

What is your motto or philosophy?
Never give up on things that matter most to you.

Favorite sport or team?

I don’t have a favorite sports team, but I am a fan of Apple.

Get to know Natalie Varela

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY.

What law school do you attend?
CUNY School of Law

Why do you want to become a lawyer?
I believe in justice and equity for all. I thought becoming a lawyer would give me the tools to ensure these goals by teaching me how to use the law to empower low-income communities and minorities.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
LatinoJustice PRLDEF has been at the forefront of civil rights issues affecting Latino communities, ranging from immigration reform, voting rights, and employment law, I wanted the opportunity to work on these issues to inform future policy.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Caraeful, we might request you make it for us!)
- Favorite food to eat in general is breakfast sandwich egg and cheese on a gutted and toasted everything bagel. - Favorite food to make is a smoothie.

What is a hidden talent?
I am not sure if this is a talent, but I like extreme activities like skydiving.

What is your motto or philosophy?
Respect one another and empathize.

What is your favorite sport or team?
My favorite sport is basketball. I am a Knicks fan, but since I do not often get to root for them in the post-season I am usually rooting for OKC.

| Comments ()

Meet Our Summer Interns

Posted on 07/13/2014 @ 07:42 PM

We have another great group of interns this summer in all of our departments and we want you to get to know them and help us welcome them!

Meet Lola Bovell

Where are you from?
Miami, FL

Where do you go to law school?
University of Wisconsin Law School

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I knew I wanted to work for LatinoJustice PRLDEF from the moment I learned about the organization because of its focus on the empowerment of the Latino community. I was really intrigued when I learned that it focused on litigating precedent-setting impact cases in particular. I have always had an interest in policy work, and LatinoJustice merges the practice of law with advocating for changes in policy. In addition, my parents are Nuyoricans that blossomed in New York City when PRLDEF was just beginning. This familial component resonated with me as well. There was no other organization that would have been a better fit.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I decided to become a lawyer because of my commitment to public service. During my time as a Women’s Studies graduate student, I realized that a significant amount of the new research being revealed was not reaching populations farther than the academic individuals in the Ivory Tower. I wanted to have more of a direct impact on marginalized communities. As a lawyer I knew that I would have the tools to apply the progressive changes in academia to the disadvantaged communities that need it the most.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
I love Puerto Rican pasteles and alcapurrias.

What is a hidden talent?
I enjoy writing poetry and performing spoken word.

What is your motto or philosophy?
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Oprah Winfrey

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
I am a Florida Gator and bleed orange and blue. I do not know much about the World Cup, but in the interest of LatinoJustice comradery I will root for Spain!

Meet Jehan Laner

Where are you from?
Los Angeles, CA

Where do you go to law school?

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I wanted to learn from and contribute to a group of attorneys who were passionate about protecting civil rights in the Latino community.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
In my old jobs before law school I was always responsible for translating for my supervisors to Spanish-speaking employees or patrons. Rather than staying in this role of helping my supervisors get what they wanted from Spanish-speaking communities, I wanted to gain the legal knowledge to help predominately Latino communities advocate for their own needs.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
This is probably the hardest question on this form. I love all kinds of food, but have a really big sweet tooth. So if you all want me to bake anything, just let me know.

What is a hidden talent?
I have a good memory for useless trivia.

What is your motto or philosophy?
“Don’t force it.” My dad used to say this a lot, but it applies figuratively and literally. Basically he was saying when you try to force something to open, close, fit, or go exactly the way you plan etc., you usually end up breaking something or stressing yourself out to the point of frustration. Instead, he’d encourage me to calm down, and think about the problem in a different way. Usually you come out seeing the better route that you wouldn’t have seen from the start.

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
Italia, Go Azzurri!

Meet Kirssy Martinez

Where are you from?
I am from the Dominican Republic

Where do you go to school?
My major is liberal arts and science in Bronx Community College.

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I think that you are doing an outstanding job by getting involved in the latino community at large, many organizations claim to help latinos but they don't go beyond the set bar. LJP is a true advocate that makes sure the voice of the immigrants are heard. During this short period of time I've interning with you, I've seen how invested you are in all the issues that encompass the latino community. I have also seen how passionate you are about your clients' cases. LJP has a lot of heart.

Why do you want to pursue a career in civil rights/non-profits? 
I am very interested in political science and civic engagement.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
I love white rice and beans w/ tostones and pork chops. Last but not least, Aguacate!!!

What is a hidden talent?
I am a poet, I write spanish poetry and love to recite them.

What is your motto or philosophy?
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come. This is the conclusion of all the world's matters, love justice and fear God; for this is the whole duty of mankind.

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
Netherlands, A few of my family members live there.

Meet Sara Estela

Where are you from?
New York, NY

Where do you go to law school?

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I care about making society an equitable place for Latinos, and especially here in NYC where I grew up.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
To create more opportunities for myself to help others while applying useful/fun skills.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

What is a hidden talent?
I can knit socks.

What is your motto or philosophy?
We are always becoming--every day is a new chance.

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
Are the Yankees playing in that?

Meet Stephanie Amber Rivera

Where are you from?
Brooklyn, NY (NUYORICAN!)

Where do you go to law school?
CUNY School of Law

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I am very passionate about immigrant and Latino Rights, especially as it pertains to immigrant women/mothers. Although providing direct legal services is necessary, I wanted to be a part of an organization that was more proactive in creating legal reform on a larger scale. LJP provides that type of impact work that I hope to do in the future.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I grew up in a very poor community of color in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. It upset me that such a large population of people could be forgotten by the city. Our services in the area were so subpar that I knew I needed to something in the future to give back and help improve the area. At first, I thought my efforts should be put toward education and I wanted to become a teacher. But in middle school, my mother enrolled me a Saturday pre-law program and it started to become a passion of mine to go to law school. I knew that if I wanted to make a lasting change in my community, I needed to be educated and in a position of power to truly bring the needs of my community to the forefront. My family says I’m a little too pure of heart for politics, so they ran with the idea of me becoming an attorney. Now, I hope to combine my passion for organizing, community development, and legal skills to sustain thriving communities of color.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
This is hard because I love food! All types of food! I am not much a cook however. If I had to narrow it down, I love to eat Indian food, Halal food, Puerto Rican food, and farina (morning, noon, and night I will eat grandma’s farina!)

What is a hidden talent?
It’s not much of a hidden talent, but I used to do a lot of Spoken Word/poetry readings.

What is your motto or philosophy?
To always define myself, name myself, create for myself, and speak for myself, instead of being defined, named, created or spoken for by others.

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
Ummm…Go Mets?

Meet Karol Yorlany Ruiz

Where are you from?
Cali, Colombia and Dover, NJ, USA

Where do you go to law school?
Seton Hall University School of Law

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I admire the work of the organization and witnessed the passion and skill of LJP’s attorneys, staff and board members. I knew that LJP mentorship would ensure the development of my own legal skills while providing the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of human rights work.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
My calling is to work for social justice. After working with attorneys like Amy Gottlieb of AFSC and Camilo Romero (then an NYU Law student) on issues of immigrants’ rights in 2010, I learned to appreciate the power of the law to both oppress and protect. As an undocumented immigrant youth, I had internalized prejudices against me and believed I could not pursue a career in the law. Once I became a citizen and met Latino lawyers like Juan Cartagena, I finally realized that becoming a lawyer was a dream I too could achieve.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
I love to make chimichurri from scratch, with cilantro (not parsley) from the garden and fresh squeezed limes. It is the perfect topping for grilled chicken, fish, steak, and tostones!

What is a hidden talent?
I love to dance, but it is not a hidden talent. I dance every chance I get.

What is your motto or philosophy?
I strive to live by the words of Lao Tzu: “A leader is best when people barely know she exists, when her work is done, her aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
Los Cafeteros!

Meet Gabriela Gonzalez

Where are you from?
Puerto Rico; I am a Florida Gator!

Where do you go to law school?
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I have always been interested in advocacy and activism, and I finally wanted to do something in that line of work with my legal knowledge and education. I met Alba Villa at a Public Interest Fair at the New York City Bar, and her energy and passion for the organization made an impression on me my 1L year. I also read Sonia Sotomayor's My Beloved World, where she spoke very highly of her experience at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
During my undergraduate years, while doing my degree in journalism, I became more and more interested in advocacy and doing something for the people whose stories I was telling. I realized the power attorneys have to make a difference, and many of the people I most admire are lawyers.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
Arroz con garbanzos and pastelon de papa.

What is a hidden talent?
I speak several languages, and I am a good imitator, so I often sound like a native speaker.

What is your motto or philosophy?
"All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 and "My life is my message." Gandhi

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?
SPAIN! La furia roja all the way.

Meet Alan Magendzo

Where are you from?
Santiago, Chile

Where do you go to school?
I’m a History major at Kenyon College, where I am a rising senior.

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I wanted to be a part of making this a more just country for Latinos and other underrepresented minorities. My brief experience with organizing students in Chile during the educational strike left me wanting to do more. I was also drawn to the legal environment at LatinoJustice, as it could help me decide what I want to do once I graduate from Kenyon.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
I like most foods, but my favorite is a good steak. I cook steak pretty well, and can make pisco sour.

What is a hidden talent?
I’m an NCAA swimmer and was Chilean national champion from 2006-2011 in 8 different events. I still hope to compete in the Rio Olympic games.

What is your motto or philosophy?
Love and do whatever you want. Stay humble and hungry.

Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?

| Comments ()

50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer and LJP

Posted on 07/01/2014 @ 12:39 AM

Freedom Summer 2014: Thoughts from the Field

When I was in college, I studied the history of the civil rights movement because I was fascinated with movement building and strategies. I was an activist in college and an Ethnic Studies major so civil rights and social movements were my life. I learned about Freedom Summer during high school but I understood the impact of Freedom Summer, Freedom Fighters and Freedom Riders in college. I wondered what it was like to put your life on the line for your community. What did it feel like to be monitored by the FBI, targeted by the government, or seen as a threat for fighting for the civil rights of your community.

Fast forward nine years later and I find myself at the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer on Tougaloo campus in Jackson, Mississippi. I am here representing LatinoJustice and I’ve brought two of my youth leadership fellows. We were fortunate enough to be accepted to present a strategy session at the Freedom Summer Youth Congress titled, 'Think Critically, Act Creatively: Utilizing New Media Tools for Youth Empowerment & Movement Making." I jumped on the opportunity to present at Freedom Summer because we are witnessing a new era of freedom fighters and freedom riders in the United States and around the world. I wanted to present on how we harness the energy and passion of young people, to create 21st century agents and champions of change in the community. I know first hand the power of social media advocacy when it is fused with the arts education and creativity. Our youth leaders know to create with a purpose and to build coalitions and relationships along the way.

I also wanted to bring a new generation of leaders to Mississippi as the veterans of Freedom Summer asked us to take the torch and keep fighting on. They are telling us “We have your back! Do something!” and I wanted our youth to be present and to take on the challenge that has been given to all of us.

On our first day here, we prepared for our workshop at the hotel and then began the half-mile walk to Tougaloo. We quickly learned that this was not the smartest of plans because of the rainy weather but also because it’s not necessarily safe. As New Yorkers, we walk everywhere, so half a mile to a campus seemed like no big deal. Our new friends disagreed and scolded us and asked that we not walk around.

Our workshop was packed with young people from all across the country and also from some of our friends from Make the Road NY and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. With over 80 youth, we focused on how to tell your story by utilizing music, poetry, theater, design and social media for advocacy campaigns. We connected with groups from Michigan, Georgia, Maryland, Illinois, Vermont, and Ohio.

It has been a humbling and life-changing experience to sit with the Freedom Riders and Freedom Fighters at lunch and to listen to their experiences and their advice. Yes, they admit they are nostalgic and that it wasn’t easy, but in the moment, they were fearless. In the face of all that uncertainty and all the threats to their lives and their families, they remained steadfast and fearless. One of the Freedom Riders talked to me about failure as it relates to community organizing and stopped me when I told her that I felt that we had failed our community since 2006 and now by not stopping the deportations or passing immigration reform. She stopped me, grabbed me, looked me in the eyes and said, “Young woman, you have failed no one. What feels like an overwhelming failure is just a setback in the struggle. All of you young people want change now, and you need to understand that it takes time. You will fail over and over again, but you’re still moving forward. Not everything will work, but those failures are part of a larger purpose to move us forward. You failed no one.”

This was truly an experience that we will never forget and now more than ever, I am inspired to ensure that LJP is fighting for the rights of all marginalized communities as we all fight for rights that have moved us to where we are today. We stand on the shoulders of giants and now it's our turn to continue the fight. The question is which side are we going to be on. I say Freedom side!

| Comments ()

Donate to the CAP40 Drive and help 40 students on their way to becoming Justice Leaders!

Posted on 05/22/2014 @ 01:56 PM

Tags: Youth Leadership Network, education, LAWbound

Last year, LatinoJustice’s 40/40/40 fundraising campaign was launched with twelve teams and raised enough funds to provide scholarships for 40 students to attend LAWbound and/or participate in our LSAT Prep Course. These students are well on their way to becoming leaders with an eye toward social justice. Students like Giselle Guerrero, are studying for the Law School Admissions Test, and Sarwat Siddiqui is building schools in Ghana and preparing for our Freedom Summer Youth Congress presentation. Others like Adela Hurtado, (who has been accepted into Fordham Law), are eagerly waiting to hear from the law schools to which they applied.

This year, the fundraising campaign has been rebranded CAP40 to reflect its broader goal of raising $12,000 and creating a cohort of leaders through LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s CAP Leadership Institute. The CAP leadership Institute was launched in 2010 to offer Latino students, ages 16-24, a continuum of leadership development and legal education programs to help them engage in the issues that impact their communities. From LAWbound and LSAT Prep to Social Justice Days and the digital advocates of the Youth Leadership Network, the CAP Leadership Institute is preparing a whole new generation of leaders to be the future Latino trailblazers – much like NYS Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, two of LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s most accomplished home-grown leaders.

This year, the CAP40 Drive will provide 40 scholarships for students to participate in one or more of the following programs and activities:

  • LAWbound – A one-week intensive course designed to help prospective law students understand what it takes to go to law school, from financing options to coursework, grades, essay writing and mentoring.
  • LSAT Prep – A top-notch professional course that prepares students for the Law School Admission Test and offers unique tips and strategy for students of color.
  • Youth Leadership Network (YLN) – LatinoJustice guides students in developing and carrying out social justice campaigns that allow them to hone their civic and political skills as they provide core support for the Latino community. Our Youth Leadership Network (YLN) invites students to become 21st century changemakers and advocates. YLN aims to empowers high school and college student leaders to engage in the fight for social justice and equality in their community through leadership, new media advocacy and grassroots organizing techniques. The YLN focuses on online organizing and new media strategies to assist in organizing around issues that impact the Latino community.
  • Mississippi Freedom Summer – The Mississippi Freedom Summer 50thAnniversary Conference, Youth and Young Adult Congress, will be an historic gathering of young people from across the country. Young people will be training and gaining resources in three track areas: ◦ Youth Organizing ◦ Community Organizing ◦ Building Political Power

Our YLN members were selected to train conference youth participants on how to create, manage and organize around school/community-based issues utilizing the arts, digital strategies and grassroots organizing. YLN youth leaders will also participate to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom March. LatinoJustice has hand-picked five youth leaders who will conduct the training and join other young people to call for justice on the anniversary of one of the most profound events of the Civil Rights Movement.

Help us foster the next generation of leaders – make a gift to CAP40 today.

Look out for profiles of our students and youth leaders throughout the CAP40 Drive period – May 21st through June 30th. Click here to hear about some of the students our donors helped in 2013.

Thank you for your support!

| Comments ()

NYC Regional Hearing on Voting Rights

Posted on 04/10/2014 @ 04:49 PM

Tags: Voting Rights Legislation, Voter Protection

| Comments ()


Posted on 04/09/2014 @ 07:17 PM

For Immediate Release: April 9, 2014

Contact: Jazmin Chavez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF,, 212-739-7581

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the members of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, which will provide concrete, actionable recommendations regarding youth in New York's criminal and juvenile justice systems by the end of this calendar year. In his 2014 State of the State address, the Governor proposed establishing the commission to "Raise the Age" and help to ensure young people become productive and successful adults.

“It’s time to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws and raise the age at which our children can be tried and charged as adults, Governor Cuomo said. “New York is one of only two states that charges 16- and 17 year olds as adults. It’s not right and it’s not fair. I am pleased to welcome these exceptional members of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, who will work to make the system fairer and safer for our youth and communities.

New York remains one of the only two states in the nation whose age of criminal responsibility—the age at which youths are treated as adults—is just 16. As a result, in 2013, over 33,000 16- and 17-year-olds in New York had their cases handled in adult criminal court, where they are less likely to receive the services they need.

The members of the commission are:

  • Juan Cartagena, Latino Justice PRLDEF, President and General Counsel: Mr. Cartagena is President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. He is a constitutional and civil rights attorney who has vast experience litigating cases on behalf of Latino and African American communities in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, language rights, access to public education for poor and language minority children, and housing. He formerly served as General Counsel and Vice President for Advocacy at the Community Service Society of New York.
  • Joel Copperman, CASES, CEO & President: Joel Copperman joined CASES in 1990 as the organization's first Executive Director. Prior to joining CASES, Mr. Copperman held several positions in New York City Government during the administration of Ed Koch. Currently, Mr. Copperman is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Human Services Council; Chair of the Board of Directors of Youth Represent; and a member of the New York City Discharge Planning Collaboration.
  • Jeremy Creelan, Jenner & Block, Partner (Co-Chair): Currently a Partner at Jenner & Block in the firm’s Litigation Department and a member of the Complex Commercial Litigation and Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation Practices, Mr. Creelan perviously served as Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and as Special Counsel to Governor Cuomo. His work has focused on election law, meaningful ethics reform, enhancing public protection through DNA reforms, and rebuilding community infrastructure following natural disasters.
  • Janet DiFiore, Westchester County District Attorney: Elected as District Attorney in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, District Attorney DiFiore is the County’s chief law enforcement officer of Westchester County, New York. She previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Westchester County for more than ten years, and as Chief of Narcotics for the last four and a half of those years. Elected as a Judge of the Westchester County Court in 1998 and as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in 2002, District Attorney DiFiore presided over hundreds of cases in Westchester County Court, Family Court and the New York State Supreme Court. In 2003, District Attorney DiFiore was appointed by Chief Judge Judith Kaye to serve as the Supervising Judge for the Criminal Courts in the 9th Judicial District.
  • Soffiyah Elijah, Correctional Association of New York, Executive Director (Co-Chair): Ms. Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York. An accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar and educator, Ms. Elijah is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer, more effective and humane criminal justice system. Prior to joining the staff of the Correctional Association in March 2011, Ms. Elijah served as Deputy Director and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. She previously practiced criminal and family law in New York City for more than 20 years and was a member of the faculty and Director and supervising attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law.
  • Elizabeth Glazer, Director, NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice: Recently appointed to serve as Director of Mayor de Blasio’s Office of Criminal Justice, Ms. Glazer previously served as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety until June 2013. Ms. Glazer has also served as the Chair of the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and held a number of senior positions at both the federal and local levels, implementing crime control and prevention strategies.
  • Michael Hardy, National Action Network, Executive Vice President & General Counsel: Mr. Hardy is one of the Founders of the National Action Network and has been involved in Movement politics and the fight for a more perfect union since 1981. He has been a practicing attorney since 1988 and he officially assumed the position of General Counsel to the National Action Network in 2008.
  • Melanie Hartzog, Children's Defense Fund-New York, Executive Director: Prior to assuming her leadership role at the Children’s Defense Fund, Ms. Hartzog served as Family Services Coordinator in the New York City Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and was also Project Director for the Young Men’s Initiative. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, she served as the Deputy Commissioner for early childhood services at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, led a social services unit in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, and was Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Human Services Council of New York City, Inc.
  • Emily Tow Jackson, The Tow Foundation, Executive Director: Philanthropist Emily Tow Jackson is the Executive Director of her family's foundation. Under her leadership, The Tow Foundation grew more committed to solving social problems and soon emerged as a leading advocate for reforming Connecticut’s broken juvenile justice system. The foundation’s funding and advocacy efforts contributed to dramatic decreases in Connecticut’s rates of incarceration that paved the way for a major legislative change that moved sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system back to the juvenile justice system.
  • Honorable Barry Kamins, New York State Unified Court System, Chief of Policy and Planning: The Hon. Barry Kamins is Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State's Unified Court System. He was appointed at the end of 2013 and, in that role, is responsible for working with judges throughout the state to study and develop policies and strategies to improve the delivery of justice in New York. In addition, Judge Kamins oversees the New York City Criminal Court.
  • Steven Krokoff, Albany Chief of Police: Chief Krokoff was appointed Chief of Police in 2010, having risen up through the ranks from when he joined the Albany Police Department in 1993. As the leader of one of the largest police departments in New York, Chief Krokoff has taken a progressive approach to law enforcement. Under his leadership, the Albany Police Department continues to break down historical social barriers with complete dedication to a community-centered model.
  • Joseph Mancini, Schenectady County, Director of Probation: Mr. Mancini has worked for Schenectady County in the Probation Department for over 20 years. As the Director, Mr. Mancini is responsible for the overall operations, policies and procedures, goals, and objectives of the Probation Department. He provides leadership and guidance to both Probation and DSS staff in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities in public service and the mission of the agency. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Schenectady County Center for Juvenile Justice and has been its chief administrator since it was created in 2003.
  • Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive: Mr. Picente, Jr., the 10th Oneida County Executive, was unanimously appointed by the Oneida County Board of Legislators in 2006. In the fall of 2007, County Executive Picente won election to a full four year term to the seat. He previously served as Executive Assistant to then Oneida County Executive, Assistant Commissioner of Labor for New York State, and Regional Administrator for the Department of Labor.
  • Allen Riley, Madison County Sheriff: Sheriff Allen Riley is a lifelong resident of Madison County. He has 28 years of law enforcement experience and came to the position of Sheriff after completing a career with the New York State Police.
  • Elaine Spaull, Center for Youth, Executive Director, and Rochester City Council Member: Ms. Spaull has served as Associate Vice President at the Rochester Institute of Technology, practiced corporate and tax law at Nixon Peabody, teaches for the SUNY Buffalo Law School and RIT, and currently serves as the Executive Director at The Center for Youth. In this position, she is responsible for the administration of a youth-centered organization founded more than 30 years ago by a group of teenagers. She also serves as a member of the Rochester City Council.
  • Cyrus Vance, Manhattan District Attorney: Mr. Vance became District Attorney of New York County on January 1, 2010. He is a recognized leader in criminal justice reform and proposed a compelling vision for moving the Manhattan District Attorney's Office forward, with a focus on crime prevention. In July 2011, Mr. Vance was elected by his peers to serve as President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York for the 2012 term. Mr. Vance also serves as co-chair of the New York State Permanent Commission on Sentencing.

The Vera Institute of Justice will offer technical assistance and substantive analysis to support the development of the Commission’s recommendations. ###

| Comments ()

Shop at Amazon Smile & Support LatinoJustice

Posted on 04/03/2014 @ 02:23 PM

Support our work while you shop on Amazon! It's easy, all you have to do is visit this link, and shop away on Amazon! Now you can shop consciously and support our work!

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

| Comments ()

Opening Doors: Providing Educational Access to College for Undocumented Youth

Posted on 03/12/2014 @ 06:13 PM

Tuesday, March 18th 2:00-3:00PM EST

Opening Doors: Providing Educational Access to College for Undocumented Youth

Join us, Kaplan Dreamers Education Initiative, United We Dream, Arab American Association of New York and as we discuss the opportunities and resources that are available to undocumented youth who are interested in accessing a college education.

We'll answer your questions and hope you'll join us and this important conversation.

Join the conversation on twitter with #TheDREAMus where we will be live tweeting from the hangout and taking your comments and questions.

You can also watch the Hangout on our Google+ page:

You can submit your questions directly to the panel via the Q&A /comment section or send us your tweet with #TheDreamUS

Will you watch? Tweet the love!

Tweet: I'm going to be watching #TheDREAMus hangout w/ @LatinoJustice @UnitedWeDream & so should you! #HigherEd #DREAMers

Tweet: I'm going to be watching #TheDREAMus hangout w/ @LatinoJustice @ArabAmericanNY & so should you! #HigherEd #DREAMers

Tweet: Where can you find money for college when you're #undocumented? Find out 3/18 2PM ET! #TheDREAMus w/ @LatinoJustice

Tweet: Join @LatinoJustice @KaplanDreamers @UnitedWeDream @LindaSarsour @ArabAmericanNY @TheDream_us for #TheDREAMus hangout

| Comments ()

Statement of Juan Cartagena President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF On the Cloture Vote for Assistant Attorney General

Posted on 03/05/2014 @ 11:10 PM

Tags: Juan Cartagena

Pandering to Race and Fear the U.S. Senate Leaves a Gaping Hole in Civil Rights Enforcement By Refusing to Promote Debo Adegbile as Assistant Attorney General

Today the U.S. Senate refused to stop the debate and push the nomination of Debo Adegbile, an eminently qualified civil rights attorney, as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Every Republican member and seven Democrats rejected a cloture vote by pandering to the fear of American voters by reducing a stellar career in civil rights enforcement to one episode of his former organization, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, representing Mumia Abu-Jamal in a post conviction appeal that challenged his death sentence.

Today Mr. Adegbile is faulted for upholding the highest principles of the bar by representing on appeal a defendant that was vilified by the press, a black man convicted of killing a police officer in Philadelphia. Years ago John Roberts worked to defend a convicted mass murderer when his law firm took on the defense. During his confirmation hearings no one in the Senate questioned his qualifications based on the conduct of his client. He now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is impossible not to recognize the racialized nature of today’s decision by the Senate. Indeed, Senator Harking chastised his colleagues for this racial double standard. If you’re a white attorney working at a law firm that courageously defends convicted murderers your bona fides remain intact. If you’re a black attorney working for the nation’s premier Legal Defense Fund that courageously provides representation to a convicted murderer you are deemed “unfit.”

The consequences for African-American, Latino, Native American and Asian American voters and victims of discrimination are clear. It is one more day without an effective and accomplished leader at the helm of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. We urge the Senate to reconsider this development and vote in favor of the nomination of Debo Adegbile. More pointedly, we urge those Democrats in the Senate who impeded the cloture vote to recognize the confusing and disturbing messages the body is sending to America and change their positions on this excellent nominee.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF is one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations that works to protect the civil rights of Latinos throughout the country and promote their entry into the legal profession. It is on record in support of Mr. Adegbile because of its direct experience of co-counseling major civil rights litigation with him and with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

| Comments ()

Anatomía de una campaña de odio

Posted on 03/03/2014 @ 10:59 AM

Tags: Long Island, Hate Crime, Immigrant Justice, Supreme Court, Media

Anatomía de una campaña de odio
Juan Cartagena. LatinoJustice PRLDEF

El odio, la ignorancia y el miedo son motivos potentes en las maniobras políticas de este país. Cuando se desempeñan estratégicamente, atraen votos. Y cuando el sujeto de las mentiras maquiavélicas es vulnerable – como son las comunidades de indocumentados latinos – la combinación de estos motivos casi garantiza logros políticos.

Esto es el plan de las fuerzas anti-inmigrantes. Y el arquitecto del plan es el abogado Kris Kobach. Para él y un núcleo extremo del partido republicano el plan es convencer a municipios, condados y estados a legislar la intolerancia. Es decir, adoptar proyectos de leyes que le hace la vida imposible para indocumentados y esperar que ellos mismos se vayan. Kobach y sus colegas han sido tan exitoso que ya la llamada “auto-deportación” llego dejar de ser una meta tan extrema. El último candidato republicano para la presidencia, Mitt Romney, fue un campeón de tal movida a principios de su campaña derrotada.

El plan tuvo antecedentes en comunidades pequeñas en California pero la inauguración comprehensiva fue en Hazelton, Pennsylvania en 2005, un lugar no muy lejos de comunidades hispanas de Reading, Allentown y más allá, Bethlehem donde el poder de números de tanta gente latina no hubiese permitido tal maniobra. Al contrario, Hazelton tenía una comunidad pequeña de inmigrantes latinos de México y Centroamérica que revitalizó la zona comercial de la deprimida ciudad con la fuerza de su sudor y sus negocios pequeños.

Pronto vino Kobach y convenció el alcalde de Hazelton Lou Barletta, quien ahora es el congresista de esa zona – más evidencia que ser anti-Latino en ciertos lugares atrae votos. Kobach y Barletta reclamaron que el peligro más grande que tiene Hazleton no es una economía letárgica, o escuelas sin recursos adecuados, o un infraestructura anciana, sino que lo que puede hundir a la ciudad para la eternidad es la presencia de latinos indocumentados. En 2006 Hazelton aprobó el modelo de leyes anti-inmigrante que después se utilizo en Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina y Georgia. Todo bajo el la guía del abogado Kobach. En Hazelton negocios fueron prohibidos en contratar a cualquier indocumentado, dueños de apartamentos fueron prohibidos en alquilar a personas sin papeles, y el poder completo de la fuerza gubernamental fue dirigida a eliminar a inmigrantes indocumentados. Pero como todo que nace de un odio irrazonable nutre a los odios personales, la ley anti-inmigrante en Hazleton fue implementada como una licencia anti-latina para hostigar a la comunidad entera.

Esta semana la Corte Suprema negó la última apelación de Kobach y Hazelton y dejaron intacto las decisiones que la comunidad latina ganó en su favor contra estas maniobras intolerantes. Los abogados de LatinoJustice y de la ACLU habían ganado cada round de esta batalla legal. Pero Kobach y Hazleton, ahora con un nuevo alcalde que comparte la misma miopía del anterior, siguieron su cantaleta que la ciudad tenía el poder legitimo de enforzar leyes federales como le da la gana. Aun después que la Corte Suprema advirtió 2n 2012 que el poder de decidir asuntos de inmigración en un contexto global está depositado exclusivamente en la rama federal, Hazleton no se detuvo. Siguieron invirtiendo cientos de miles de dólares – dinero del tesoro público que ninguna ciudad tiene en exceso – en los bolsillos del bufete de Kobach.

La noticia del rechazo de la Corte Suprema no fue esperada por Kobach y su equipo. El licenciado de la intolerancia dijo que es una pena que la corte no le dio otra oportunidad. El ex-alcalde Lou Barletta se enojó con la noticia y justificó la pérdida de más de medio millón de dólares en la defensa legal con la observación absurda que el país se beneficio con el liderazgo de Hazelton en el campo de la reforma imigratoria. ¿Y los residentes de Hazleton? Algunos cuestionaron porque cada apelación – más de 9 mil al año – no es oída por la Corte Suprema. Otros se preocuparon de algo más inmediato, la economía. Y los latinos dijeron ¡por fin!

| Comments ()

Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights Symposium

Posted on 02/20/2014 @ 03:18 PM

The Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law will host its third annual symposium entitled, “A Force for Change: Advancing the Rights of the Latino Community,” on Friday, February 21, 2014.

This national symposium brings together experienced practitioners, renowned academics, organizers, advocates, and law students from across the country to discuss the various areas in which the rights of the Latino community are being advanced or defended, from voting rights to local anti-immigrant ordinances to higher education.
Scheduled panels include:

     A Vote, A Voice: The Importance of the Voting Rights Act
Moderator: Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, Senior Attorney and Director of Voter Protection, Advancement Project.
Panelists: William Brewer, Partner, Bickel & Brewer Storefront; Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); and Ana Reyes, City Council member for the City of Farmers Branch, Texas.

  Lessons Learned from the Front Lines: Challenging Local Anti-Immigrant Ordinances in the Midst of a National Call for Reform
Moderator: Julia Preston, National Immigration Correspondent, The New York Times.
Panelists: Jose Perez, Deputy General Counsel, LatinoJustice/PRLDEF; James Renard, Partner, Bickel & Brewer Storefront; and Andre Segura, Attorney at the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    Realizing the Dream: Promoting Access to Education and Bar Admissions for Undocumented Students
Moderator: Alina Das, Associate Clinical Professor and Faculty Director of the Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law.
Panelists: Sergio Garcia, Undocumented Attorney; Cesar Vargas, Executive Political Director of the DREAM Action Coalition.

The symposium is scheduled for Friday, February 21, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at
New York University School of Law, Lipton Hall, 108 West Third Street, New York City.

There is no cost to attend the symposium. Lunch will be provided. CLE Credit may also be available. To register for the symposium please click here.

| Comments ()

For People of Color® Law School Conference at Columbia 2014.

Posted on 02/13/2014 @ 05:33 PM

Tags: legal education, Latinas at Work

Presented by:
Columbia Law School’s Latina/o Law Students Association & For People of Color, Inc.

FPOC’s Law School Admissions Conference This event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, February 15, 2014 from 8:45 am to 4:00 pm

Columbia Law School

Event Description:
For People of Color, Inc. and Columbia Law School’s Latina/o Law Student Association are proud to announce that they will be holding a law school admissions conference at Columbia Law School. This event will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the application process. The conference will consist of an admissions workshop, various panels, and will culminate with the opportunity to have a current law student review your personal statement.

RSVP: Registration is required.
Click Here to Register

Personal Statement Review – Deadline: Feb. 8, 2014
Columbia Law students will be available to review your personal statement and other application materials. Please send the documents to no later than Feb. 8, 2014. (You must attend the conference in order to receive feedback.)

| Comments ()

LatinoJustice PRLDEF · Copyright © 2017 · All Rights Reserved

· New York Office: 99 Hudson Street 14th Floor · New York, NY 10013-2815 · P: 212.219.3360 · 800.328.2322 · F: 212.431.4276
· Southeast Regional Office: 523 West Colonial Drive · Orlando, FL 32804 · P: 321.250.2853 · 800.328.2322

Powered by ARCOS | Design by Plus Three