News and Events; Puerto Rico, NJ Education and More

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LJP Events

LatinoJustice PRLDEF Annual Awards Gala Save the Date

Join us as for the LatinoJustice PRLDEF Annual Awards Gala, November 10, 2015, at the Grand Hyatt New York.

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.

If you are an artist or crafter and want to participate in the Gala Silent Auction and Mercado, please contact

Questions? Contact

LJP News

Puerto Rico Crisis Update

Media coverage of the Puerto Rico debt crisis accelerates as the negotiations between the government of Puerto Rico and its creditors commenced last week. In the United States, Puerto Rican political leaders and community activists are trying to figure out ways to put pressure on the federal government to help.

LatinoJustice's President and General Counsel, Juan Cartagena (@LJCartagena), joined with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda to send a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders calling for a comprehensive federal approach to assisting Puerto Rico.

Major Policy Changes in NJ Education Policy

by Jackson Chin, Senior Counsel @LJPJackson

In response to concerns raised by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the New Jersey Department of Education modified its high school equivalency testing registration requirements by providing “ease of access to all applicants.” The policy overhaul is modeled on similarly-intended rules governing New Jersey’s public school registration of children of immigrants or undocumented individuals including unaccompanied minors.

As a result of LJP’s advocacy, an expanded list of acceptable identification to establish GED eligibility was promulgated. You can find more information about the changes in eligibility here. The recent policy change stands to benefit all New Jersey residents 21 years of age and over who seek literacy, workforce, vocational training and other adult educational opportunities, regardless of immigration or citizenship status it will also benefit those who could not have otherwise obtained costly IDs.

You can read Juan Cartagena's op-ed about this issue in El Diario here

Florida Supreme Court Orders New Congressional Map

By Martha Pardo, Associate Counsel, Southeast Regional Office

The Florida Supreme Court issued a precedent-setting decision this month overturning the Florida Legislature’s remedial congressional maps as unconstitutional. The court ordered the State legislature to once again draw new maps for eight districts and all other districts affected thereby, in time for the 2016 election. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's "decision that the 2012 redistricting process and resulting map were tainted by unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican party and incumbents” and concluded that the boundaries drawn by the legislature violated the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state Constitution.

The Supreme Court however reversed the Leon County Circuit Court’s order approving the Legislature’s revised redistricting plan “because we conclude that the trial court failed to provide a more meaningful remedy commensurate with the constitutional violations it found.” The opinion “urged the Legislature in light of the trial court’s findings to consider making all decisions on the redrawn map in public view.”

LatinoJustice had filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief last year on behalf of itself, Florida New Majority and Mi Familia Vota contending that the remedial maps had the effect of retrogressively diluting and diminishing the Latino community’s opportunity to elect representatives of their choosing, particularly in the 9th congressional district in Central Florida. The unprecedented growth of Latinos in Orange County and surrounding areas was one of the main reasons the state was awarded two additional congressional districts after the last decennial census in 2010.

Obama Executive Actions on Immigration Likely To Remain On Hold

By Jose Perez, (@JPerezLatino) Deputy General Counsel and Helen Martinez, Legal Intern – Northeastern University Law School

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard the federal government’s appeal of a preliminary injunction issued by a Federal District Court in Texas. The court had stayed the Obama administration from implementing an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (known as “DACA plus”) as well as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (known as “DAPA”) programs. News accounts report that it appears unlikely that the appeals court will reverse the injunction, leading to possible review by the Supreme Court in 2015-16.

DACA plus would expand the pool of immigrants, who arrived in the U.S. as children, eligible to apply for deportation relief and work authorization. DAPA would have allowed certain immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for deportation relief and work authorization. The hearing was the latest legal step in Texas et al. v. United States et al., the 26-state challenge to President Obama’s executive actions expanding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s use of prosecutorial discretion.

LatinoJustice joined 150 other civil rights and immigration groups in filing an amicus brief contending that DACA plus and DAPA would have brought millions of immigrants out of the shadows. It would have allowed them to apply for relief from deportation and work authorization while also greatly improve the nation's economy.

LJP Celebrates 10th anniversary of LAWbound

Lawbound 10 year anniversary

On July 15th LJP celebrated LAWbound's 10th anniversary with alumni, board members, staff and friends. The 10th anniversary reception was hosted by Dechert LLP and cosponsored by Verizon. The Honorable Jenny Rivera, Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, delivered the keynote address and took questions from the audience.

Judge Rivera said that LAWbound reassured her that “there is hope” for the future of our world. She also reminded those in attendance that “you have to be in it for the long haul [to effect change in] civil rights litigation and advocacy.” Juan Cartagena discussed the unique family of LJP and told the audience, “no matter where you land [professionally] there is always a role you can play in social justice.” Sonji Patrick (@LJSPatrick) thanked all of the volunteers and hosts over the past decade stating, “it took a community of lawyers and professionals to make LAWbound possible for the last ten years.” The summer LAWbound academy takes place August 3—7, 2015, and will welcome 16 new scholars to the LJP LAWbound family.

2016 Public Interest Fellowship

If you know any rising 3L law students or recent law clerks then you should encourage them to apply for LatinoJustice's Public Interest Fellowship. We are looking for lively and passionate people to join the LJP Familia. Applications are due by Friday July 31st. You can find more information about the opening here.

Meet the #LJPFamilia

Meet Foster Maer

In this week’s edition of “Meet the #LJPFamilia,” we introduce you to Foster Maer, Senior Litigation Counsel at LatinoJustice. Foster has worked on a range of cases focused on issues such as police reform and helping Latinos stand against home raids on Long Island. He tells us about what it was like growing up next to President Eisenhower’s "Summer White House" and the importance of family in helping him to overcome colon cancer. “At that point in my life, anyone who is facing that situation, family and friends are critical to getting you out of bed in the morning and give you something to live for.” You can watch his video here.

Meet Maria Jose Padilla, Rutgers University School of Law

Maria is currently a rising 2L at Rutgers University School of Law. She graduated from SUNY Binghamton magna cum laude with a double major of Political Science (3.9 GPA) & Latin American and Caribbean Studies (3.92 GPA) and was a member of the Thurgood Marshall Pre-Law Society. She received her Associate of Arts degree from Bard High School Early College, an accelerated high school-college program. During college, she worked as a language resource specialist assisting other Binghamton students apply their Spanish skills to coursework; and interned with Harlowtown.

Before entering law school, Maria worked as a paralegal for Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP where she translated and edited all information for the firm’s Spanish-speaking clients in a class action against the NYC Department of Corrections. While working as an administrative assistant at the Shift Project, an international human rights NGO, she voluntered at Harlowtown, a non-profit community legal services office and helped to establish a pro bono divorce clinic and prisoner reentry program. Maria is an LJP Education Division alum, having attended Law Day where she met Rutgers Dean Yvvette Bravo-Weber. Maria was born in Ecuador and grew up in Queens, NY.

Meet Daily Guerrero, Columbia Law School

Daily is a rising 2L at Columbia Law School who was recently selected to the Columbia Law Review. As a 1L, she volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for the Immigration Rights Clinic. Daily was an SEO intern at Davis Polk the summer before entering law school and had participated in the SUNY Buffalo Law School-Hodgson Russ pre-law summer program as an undergrad. She received her BA in Folklore & Mythology with Honors from Harvard University.

While at Harvard she was the founder & President of the Harvard College Dominican Student Association and served as the National Dominican Student Conference Chair in 2013-4. In college, Daily worked as an intern & Spanish interpreter with Greater Boston Legal Services assisting several battered undocumented women apply for u-visas; volunteered as an interpreter for Engineers Without Borders while building a well for a rural community in Costanza, Dominican Republic; served as a Deputy Campaign Manager for a Dominican-Puerto Rican candidate elected to the Cambridge City Council; and studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, Lima Peru and Seoul, Korea. Daily has published several books in the Harvard College Stories for Orphans. Daily was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Utica, NY.

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