News and events: UN testimony about Vieques, Sexual harrasment filing and more

LJP News

Testifying at U.N. about Vieques

By Natasha Bannan, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice

I testified before the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization’s annual hearing on Puerto Rico this week regarding the status of clean-up efforts and on-going human rights violations in the island of Vieques. The Committee heard testimony about the lack of justice and accountability for 60 years of bombing and military practices, as well as serious concerns regarding their current practice of open-air detonation and possible open-air burning of vegetation as part of the administrative clean-up process. The resolution passed by the Committee reflected the testimony presented and expressed the Committee’s serious concerns regarding the United States’ commitment to an effective, safe and expedient decontamination effort in Vieques and the ultimate return of federally controlled lands to local residents and government. You can read the testimony here

LJP Files BIA Amicus Brief in Matter of Cristoval Silvia-Trevino

By Maria Jose Padilla, LJP Summer Legal Intern

Criminal and immigration law again intersected before the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) in the long pending high profile Matter of Cristoval Silvia-Trevino, 26 I. & N. Dec. 550 (B.I.A. 2015). The issue before the tribunal was whether the underlying crime committed involved moral turpitude that would make the respondent ineligible for discretionary relief from deportation, under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In one of his final acts, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in April 2015 issued a seminal decision vacating a prior controversial decision issued in 2008 by then Attorney General Mukasey that outlined a new review standard directing immigration judges to engage in a categorical inquiry outside the conviction record to determine if a respondent had committed a crime involving moral turpitude, that resulted in an order of removal under the new standard. The BIA affirmed, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Board’s order rejecting AG Mukasey’s decision as contrary to the plain language of the statute and remanded the case back to the BIA for further proceedings. AG Holder subsequently issued his decision to enable the Board to develop a uniform standard consistent with existing appellate precedent.

The BIA on remand had sua sponte requested the Federation for Immigration Reform (“FAIR”), an extremist anti-immigrant hate group that advocates white supremacy and eugenic principles to submit an amicus brief in the case. LatinoJustice joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) on June 18, 2015 requesting the Board strike the amicus brief filed by FAIR. The brief presents the white supremacist roots of FAIR and requests that the BIA immediately cease its practice of inviting FAIR to submit amicus briefs in pending immigration cases, contending that soliciting briefs by this extremist group undermines the professional reputation of the BIA and the legal profession, suggests the appearance of impropriety, and is unlikely to assist the tribunal’s adjudication of the merits of the underlying issue before it, and instead lends legitimacy to FAIR’s extreme and discredited views. Other civil rights groups joining the amicus brief include Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, ASISTA, The Center for New Community, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. You can read the full Amicus here.

Long Island Latina Laundry Workers Sexual Harassment Case Will Proceed To Trial

By Jose Perez, Deputy General Counsel at LJP

Sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation claims will go forward against Suffolk Laundry Services, Inc., a commercial laundromat in Southampton, NY, a New York federal court judge ruled on June 15, 2015. LatinoJustice PRLDEF and lawyers from Make the Road New York and Outten & Golden LLP represent seven former employees who brought sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation claims in violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws against Suffolk Laundry and its owners in early 2012, joining an action by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC filed the lawsuit after investigating and sustaining an administrative complaint filed by LatinoJustice in 2011 that alleged the workers were discriminated against based on their gender and subjected to unwanted touching, inappropriate comments, and lewd gestures by their supervisor.

The court had previously ruled last Fall that there is sufficient evidence that the work environment at Suffolk Laundry was hostile to female employees and that the owners, Cathy and Walter Sullivan, Jr., could be held individually liable for the unlawful discrimination by a Supervisor. After a court hearing on June 15th, EDNY Federal Judge Margo K. Brodie issued a ruling from the bench denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ retaliation claims against the company, and directed that the case proceed to trial in November 2015. .

LJP Events

LatinoJustice Gala Save the Date

Join us as for the LatinoJustice PRLDEF Annual Awards Gala, November 10, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt NY. This year we are honoring:

  • LUCERO: Pilar Ramos, General Counsel-North America, MasterCard International
  • CORPORATE LEADER: Comcast Corporation
  • CAP LEADER: Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP
  • COMMUNITY CHAMPION: Junot Diaz, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Click here for ticket and sponsorship information.

Any artists or crafters interested in participating in the Gala Silent Auction and Mercado, please contact

Questions? Contact

LAWbound News!

We have extended the deadline for the LAWbound August 2015 Academy. We will continue to accept applications until Monday, June 29th. Applications sent electronically must be received by Monday. Applications sent by mail, must be postmarked by Monday, June 29th.

LAWbound 10th Reunion

The LAWbound 10th Reunion is coming up fast on July 15th! You should have received an EventBrite invitation for our LAWbound 10th Reunion. If you are an alumnus, attorney volunteer or past supporter and have not received the invitation, please contact ASAP.

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