Hispanic Issues Section celebrates 35th year

Now in its 35th year, the Hispanic Issues Section of the State Bar of Texas has been active addressing statewide matters, such as helping to create a bar association coalition to address the unaccompanied minors situation. The coalition is at work providing training and CLE seminars to attorneys and other legal professionals who are interested in volunteering their time.

Members of the coalition currently include:

  • Dallas Hispanic Bar Association
  • Hidalgo County Bar Association
  • Hispanic Bar Association of Austin
  • Hispanic Bar Association of Houston
  • Mexican American Bar Association of Houston
  • Mexican American Bar Association of San Antonio
  • Laredo-Webb County Bar Association
  • Mexican American Bar Association of Texas
  • Mexican American Bar of Texas Foundation
  • Hispanic National Bar Association

The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association—at the request of the Dallas Bar Association—was the first coalition member to organize a CLE on unaccompanied minors and relevant immigration law. This was followed by Houston-area bar associations, which sponsored a CLE on July 31, 2014, that attracted 500 attendees—including State Bar of Texas President Trey Apffel—and spurred a thank you letter from the Harris County Attorney’s Office. Soon after, the Mexican American Bar Association of San Antonio and the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston followed suit and held CLEs for attorneys in their areas. The Hidalgo County Bar Association has scheduled a CLE for September 9, 2014. For a more comprehensive listing of all coalition events, go to texashispanicissuessection.com/dnn/UMCrisis.aspx.

"All coalition members are working in tandem with different legal organizations, law schools, and nonprofit groups,” said Angelica Hernandez, a director of the Hispanic Issues Section Council, in the group’s recent report. “We still have more work in front of us, but what pride to see the leadership of the legal profession. We support and salute one another. We congratulate all those who are volunteering their time and efforts to address both the humanitarian and legal needs of our community.”

In other section news, Chair Benny Agosto Jr. recently was appointed to the State Bar of Texas Diversity Consortium and also was presented with the 2014 Trailblazer Outside Counsel of the Year Award by the State Bar of Texas Office of Minority Affairs and the Texas Minority Counsel Program. For more information or to join the Hispanic Issues Section, go to texashispanicissuessection.com.

Free CLE course to focus on roles of lawyers, law enforcement in unaccompanied minors cases

A free continuing legal education course Thursday in Houston will focus on the rights of unaccompanied children crossing the Texas border and the duties of federal, state, and local governments in handling the cases.

The Harris County Attorney’s Office is sponsoring the course for legal and law enforcement professionals.

Scheduled topics include:

  • the social and legal context for the rise of unaccompanied minors
  • the roles of the local, state and federal governments
  • the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008
  • forms of relief including: asylum, the Violence Against Women Act, temporary protective status, derivative citizenship, T&U non-immigrant visas, and special immigrant juvenile status
  • how attorneys can volunteer to help

The presentation will take place from 1-5 p.m. at Houston Community College, 5601 W. Loop South Freeway. Go to www.harriscountyattorney.net to complete the required online registration form.

Course sponsors include the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County Constable Precinct 1, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Houston Bar Association, Catholic Charities, Foster Quan LLP, Monty & Ramirez LLP, AILA Texas Chapter, Houston Community College, Univision 45 Houston, Hispanic Bar Association of Houston, Mexican American Bar Association of Houston, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law, U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, and Texas Access to Justice Commission.

More information on training and pro bono opportunities for lawyers is available at texasbar.com/volunteer.

State Bar of Texas launches webpage for lawyers interested in helping unaccompanied minors

The State Bar of Texas has launched a new webpage to keep attorneys informed of ways they can volunteer to help serve the legal needs of unaccompanied minors who are arriving in our courts system.

Through texasbar.com/volunteer, the State Bar is providing up-to-date information on training and pro bono opportunities, helpful websites, and other useful information for attorneys who want to get involved or learn more. The webpage allows attorneys to submit a volunteer form, which will be reviewed by State Bar staff and directed to the appropriate legal aid provider.

Learn more by visiting the webpage