LJP Update: President's Address, Oscar Lopez Rivera Pardon and more

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2017 President’s Address Recap

LatinoJustice President & General Counsel, Juan Cartagena, presented about plans for the year ahead and how the work of LJP will address the new administration’s actions that pose a threat to Latino civil and human rights. From Voting, Immigrant and Worker’s Rights, to Economic Justice, Criminal Justice Reform and Leadership Development, all of our work in the year ahead will be strategically focused on continuing the forward progress we have made.

This year LJP’s work will have a laser focus on countering the new administration’s attempts to roll back critical civil and human rights protections. We are also working strategically to make up for the lack of federal allies in the justice department. LatinoJustice’s staff stands resolute and ready to push back on any and all attempts to deny Latinos their civil and human rights. And we thank you for your commitment to stand with us.

Watch the Facebook live video here, download the presentation power point here and see photos from the event here.

President Obama Pardons Puerto Rican Activist Oscar López Rivera

After 36 years in prison, Puerto Rican activist Oscar López Rivera was pardoned by President Obama just days before leaving office. Rivera, whose pardon has been advocated by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, hundreds of organizations, activists, world leaders and Pope Francis will be released from federal prison within the next four months. A worldwide campaign to free López Rivera generated dozens of marches, millions of letters, signed petitions including more than 100,000 messages to the twitter accounts of the President, White House, and Justice Department. LatinoJustice lawyers have been at the forefront of advocating for his release.

“The release of Oscar López Rivera after 35 years of unjust imprisonment represents a tremendous achievement for the people of Puerto Rico and those across the world who supported the campaign to release this freedom fighter. Oscar will now be able to join his family and share his rich vision of justice with his community, his country and the world, and we are all better for it. There is an indescribable joy knowing that he will soon be home, and that his freedom was secured by the persistence of the Puerto Rican nation who refused to let this injustice continue.”

Read more here.

Report Released Outlining Framework to Empower Local Institutions to Provide Sanctuary for Immigrants

LatinoJustice and Demos released a report designed to equip state and local jurisdictions and institutions with much-needed guidance to establish community policies that welcome and protect immigrants. The report, titled “Sanctuary, Safety, and Community – Tools for Welcoming and Protecting Immigrants through Local Democracy,” is available in English here and Spanish here.

“This preliminary report reveals the ways in which the U.S. constitutional system of federalism, Due Process, Equal Protection and anti-discrimination laws may support a wide range of inclusive, local, pro-immigrant rights policies. While local governments themselves are “preempted” from assuming federal immigration powers, they are not prohibited from creating policies which generally include immigrant communities as equal members of society, and they can resist unconstitutional commandeering or coercion from the federal government on similar grounds. Recent case law suggests that local governments cannot be required to stop, arrest and detain people for the purpose of deportation. In fact, local governments should refrain from doing so at the risk of engaging in racial profiling and violating Equal Protection, among other constitutional rights and legal obligations under civil rights and anti-discrimination law.” Said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice.

Read more here.

DOJ intervenes in LJP voting case against NYC’s Board of Elections

The lawsuit seeks to restore the voting rights of New York City voters who have been improperly removed from the rolls in violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). This includes the more than 117,000 registered voters who were removed from the voter registration rolls prior to the April 2016 primary election by the NYC BOE’s Brooklyn Borough Office. As a result of the lawsuit, filed five days before the November 2016 election, the NYC BOE previously consented to providing various forms of notice to poll workers and voters concerning the requirement that all voters who believe they are registered must be offered an affidavit ballot on Election Day. The NYC BOE also agreed to send absentee ballots to individual plaintiffs who had been improperly purged from the registration list.

“The Supreme Court’s holding in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 effectively removed three counties in NYC from Section 5 preclearance protections under the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which would have likely prevented this harm from occurring in the first place. In June and July of 2016, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the NY Voting Rights Consortium sent several Formal Request Letters to the USDOJ specifically requesting that they investigate any potential voting rights violations made by the NYC BOE. We salute DOJ’s intervention, which makes it clear that the harm to New York voters is unacceptable and cannot happen again," said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice.

Read more here.

Justice in the Arts with Lalo Alcaraz

Mexican social justice artist and internationally recognized cartoonist Lal Alcaraz joined LatinoJustice at their offices January 27 as part of the organization’s Justice in Arts Series. Lalo is a Chicano artist from Los Angeles who has drawn a number of notable comics, including a comic series called “La Cucaracha,” that uses satire to critique the political world we live in. The room was full of other Latina/o artists and discussions in the room tackled the major issues that social justice artists face when developing art to empower the Latino/a community.

Lalo told that he was part of mass outrage that stemmed from Walt Disney Company attempting to trademark “Day of the Dead.” At the time he drafted a number of comics that criticized the attempt to trademark an element of cultural identity, most notably drawing the comic “Muerto Mouse”.

A couple of years later, Walt Disney hired him as a culture consultant for Coco, a Day of the Dead feature. As a culture consultant he has worked to make sure that Coco has more Latinos/as acting and working behind the scenes on the film while also keeping the film truer to Latino/a culture. From advocating on the outside to advising on the inside, he outlined how he works to make sure that Latino culture is understood and empowered for social change. We are glad that Lalo could join us for the discussion and look forward to working with him more in the future.

You can find out more about Lalo by clicking here.

Upcoming Events

  • Rally for Ramarley Graham ~ Fire Haste & All NYPD Responsible: February 2nd, 2017 will mark 5 years since unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was killed by the NYPD in his own home. To date, NOT ONE OFFICER has been fired or held accountable. On the 5th anniversary of Ramarley’s killing, come out to rally with his family and supporters and demand police accountability. Where: Foley Square, 111 Worth St, New York, NY. When: Thursday, February 2nd, 5-8pm. More info: here
  • Citizenship Clinic in Broward: Do you want to become a U.S Citizen and you think you meet all the requirements? Come to our FREE Citizenship drive and we can help you. Where: Lauderhill Mall, 1267 NW 40th Ave, Lauderhill, Florida 33313. When: Saturday, February 11th 10am- 2pm. More info: here
  • LSAT: LatinoJustice’s LSAT Prep Course for the June 12, 2017 LSAT begins on Wednesday, February 22nd. Please check our website at the end of this week for the complete registration and scheduling information.
  • Law Day: Save the Date! Law Day 2017 will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2017.

LJP in the News

  • Study: Latinos under-counted in criminal justice system: Latinos in the criminal justice system — from the point of arrest, through their incarceration and during their time on parole or probation — are often categorized as white on official records, which shortchanges the nation's largest minority population when it comes to targeted reforms to reduce recidivism, a new study finds. Read more here
  • Sanctuary: Protecting Immigrant Communities: In advance of expected changes in federal immigration enforcement practices and priorities under President Donald Trump, advocates fear millions of people could be affected. Steps are being taken at state and local levels to stay fears of roundups and mass deportations. Read more here

Twitter Highlight

  1. Today we join activists in DC to deliver 208k signatures calling on @POTUS to #FreeOscarLopez! @lyciaora is there to support #FreeOscar pic.twitter.com/GQXnNT6bWW
  2. Let us fight w/love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed- 6-yr-old Sophie Cruz #WomensMarch link here
  3. Joined @thenyic for launch of #OurNY. A campaign to show that NYers stand for #ImmigrantRights and in solidarity w/#HereToStay movement. pic.twitter.com/MC3r9uTZvS

LJP Action

We have received a lot of feedback saying that you want to have more opportunities to take action. With that in mind, we will include a section in the upcoming newsletters with 1-3 actions that you can take from some of our allies and supporters. If you would like to suggest an action to feature, then tweet @latinojustice with the action while using #LJPAction so we can help amplify actions from our community.

  • Senator Jeff Sessions Confirmation Vote Scheduled for 9:30am on Tuesday January 31st. Call now to tell your Senator that we need an Attorney General who can defend everyone’s civil rights! Call: 877-959-6082. Find your Senator: here Background Letter here.
  • Sign the Petition: Fast Food Workers Need Fair Scheduling, Right to Form Their Own Organization. New York City fast food workers, are asking the New York City Council to pass new bills that will protect workers from last minute scheduling practices that make it difficult for them to plan their lives and would allow them to make voluntary automatic contributions to a non-profit organization of their choice that would fight to protect their rights, safeguard compliance with minimum wage increases, and improve their communities. Sign the petition to stand with fast food workers and tell the New York City Council to pass these important bills. Sign: here.

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