HBA Board Election

The Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia will be holding elections for all four of its vacant Board positions on March 16, 2018. The four positions are President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. You must be a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia (free to become a member). If you are interested in applying for a position on the Board, please call or email Mikhail N. Lopez for additional details. The deadline for materials/applications is March 9, 2018.

email: mnl@greenspunlaw.com

phone: 703-352-0100

Color of Justice 2017

On April 1, the HBA-VA will host the Color of Justice program where attorneys and judges will present to student-participants a mock criminal case about a serious fight. After the evidence is in, the student-jurors will need to deliberate about the outcome of the trial.

We are seeking volunteers from the bench to help lead the discussion during deliberations and afterwards. In past years, judges have been separated among the groups of students to help them discuss and understand the evidence. Once the groups reach their independent conclusions, there will be a larger group discussion.

During the larger assembly, we will ask the students to discuss their thoughts on the evidence and verdicts. After the verdicts are announced and discussed, we will also ask the judicial panel to comment on the importance of diversity in the law, the changes that have been observed over the years, and open the floor up to questions from the students.

All volunteers and participants are also invited to lunch afterward to continue the discussions.

The successful execution of the program is contingent upon funding. We welcome contributions from the specialty bars and the legal community. For Sponsorship information please click here. Katherine Martell is in charge of funding for the the event and you can reach her by email at KMartell@firstpointlaw.com.

Saturday April 1, 2017
10:00am – 3:00 pm
Fairfax County Court House
4110 Chain Bridge Rd.
 Fairfax, VA 22030

To RSVP for the event or get additional information, please contact: Mikhail Lopez – 703-861-0707 – mnl@greenspunlaw.com OR Katherine Martell – 571-290-2791 – kmartell@firstpointlaw.com.

Presented by Collaboration of:

The Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia, The Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association, The Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia, The Virginia Women Attorneys Association- Northern Virginia Chapter and The Fairfax Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section.

To view the flyer for Attorneys click here.

To view the flyer for Students click here.

HNBA Immigrant Legal Defense Task Force Is Now Accepting Donations!

The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) Immigrant Legal Defense Task Force is honored to announce an initial donation of $5,000 to the HNBA Immigrant Legal Defense Fund.  The (HNBA) Immigrant Legal Defense Fund provides grants for low-cost legal representation to assist in the defense of select immigration cases.  We expect a significant number of grant applications and encourage all HNBA members and supporters, as well as the general public, to consider donating to this important fund here.  Every single donation will make a difference! The HNBA is confident that by working together with our members, partners and friends, we can make a substantial difference in the lives of immigrants across the country.

Apply for a Grant

The HNBA Immigrant Legal Defense Fund has been established to help defray the costs of legal representation provided by attorneys. Grant applications must be submitted by the attorney providing “low bono” (low cost) legal services.

Case Types: Given the current priorities established by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the following cases are eligible for grants:

1. Detained removal cases (detainee is not eligible for bond pursuant to INA § 236(c));
2. Unaccompanied children in custody of Office of Refugee Resettlement (family member has not been identified for sponsorship); and
3. Individuals granted a bond pursuant to Rodriguez v. Robbins, 804 F.3d 1060 (9th Cir. 2015).

Eligibility: The attorney’s hourly rate must not exceed $100 and the grant must be applied to the cost for representation in an immigration case.

Grant Amount: Up to $500. Depending on availability of funds, the grant amount may change.

To Participate & Apply: The attorney must complete a Grant Application here, upload a copy of the Retainer Agreement, and one of the following documents (depending on case type):

1. Immigration Judge Order indicating no bond pursuant to INA § 236(c) or I-286 indicating “detained in custody of Department of Homeland Security”;
2. Case Status Summary from Office of Refugee Resettlement – Only cases that are marked Code 4 are eligible for a grant.
3. Form I-830 that is notated “CR” in the top right hand corner where bond was granted pursuant to Rodriguez v. Robbins.

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Virginia Legislation

URGENT CALL TO ACTION:  Virginia Legislation

Please see follow-up Information on How you Can Assist:

Thank you all for your partnership in addressing SB1592, a bill that--among many other things—would strip a long-held, critical, appropriate duty from Virginia JDR courts.

SB1592 (Black - R, Loudoun): A bill that would strip the ability of JDR courts in Virginia to make best interest findings in cases of kids without documentation for purposes of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions.

The bill will likely be on the Senate Courts docket on the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 1 — the committee will meet 15 minutes after adjournment in Senate Room B in the General Assembly building. It can be difficult to predict when the Senate will adjourn each day, but in recent days they have adjourned anywhere from 1PM to 2PM. 

You can find the names of committee members here: if you click on their names, you will find contact info for calling purposes: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?171+com+S3

If you are unsure who your Senator is, click on the “Who’s My Legislator?” tab at the top of the page here: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php


  1. Calls from constituents to Senate Courts committee members: if you are the constituent of a Senate Courts committee member, you can call their General Assembly office number and register your opposition to the bill. 
  • Introduce yourself
  • Say you are a constituent of the Senator
  • Say the bill number and that you oppose the legislation (SB1592)
  • Give a couple of the talking points to underscore your opposition to the bill.  (See below.)
  • Ask that your Senator vote NO on SB1592
  1. Attend the committee hearing on Wednesday and be prepared to speak, but also be prepared not to speak: if discussion on the bill seems to be suggesting it will fail, we may want to go lighter on in-person testimony and just have a few folks at the ready with the talking points.
  2. If the bill somehow survives Senate Courts committee, we will reassess immediately: we will then still have the floor vote and the various House committees, floor, etc., and then ultimately the Governor to make the bill go away.

Main Talking Points: 

Please stress the role of the juvenile court and the pending litigation over this very issue.  Please go light on immigration consequences, unless you know that will be an effective talking point for your audience.

  1. The JDR Courts are courts who are most knowledgeable and experienced in making best interest findings to address the needs of children. This bill would signal a significant departure from the traditionally broad remedial powers of the juvenile court to act in the best interest of children who come before it.
  2. Children come before the court in these particular hearings because they are potentially abused, neglected or abandoned. The overwhelming majority of SIJ applicants have suffered and been deeply affected by trauma stemming from intra-familial violence and other family crises. Some have suffered years of physical and sexual violence at the hands of close family members. Others have been starved, forced to work, and deprived of an education and medical care. Others are orphans with no one to care for them.
  3. Any legislation related to courts that make best interest findings in such SIJS cases is premature as there is current litigation in the Virginia Court of Appeals considering these matters: EDY CANALES v. Record No. 1073-16-4 MARVIN ALEJANDRO TORRES ORELLANA

Only if asked . . .

Q: What is SIJS?

Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status was introduced through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 for children who had been deemed eligible for long-term foster care in the U.S.  It is a 27-year-old law signed into being by George HW Bush. To be eligible for SIJ status, a child must be under 21, unmarried, dependent on a state juvenile court, unable to reunify with one or both of her parents due to abuse, abandonment, neglect or a similar basis under state law; and not in child’s best interest to return to her country of origin. The process for obtaining SIJ status is a unique hybrid procedure that hinges on the collaboration of state and federal systems.  In creating SIJ status, Congress relied on state courts to safeguard the welfare of these children and ensure their placement with safe caregivers. Congress’ decision to delegate this fact-finding prerequisite to state courts – rather than the immigration courts is logical: state juvenile courts regularly make findings regarding the best interests of children and are the experts on this standard. Immigration courts have no such expertise.

Q: Why should state juvenile courts make immigration decisions?

The JDR Court in these hearings merely makes a finding of fact related to the abuse/neglect/abandonment and best interests of where the child should be, given that abuse/neglect. Appearing in these JDR hearings does not guarantee the court will make the necessary findings that an SIJS petition requires, and even if the court does make such findings, it does not guarantee an SIJS petition will be successful. Only federal immigration authorities can decide whether a child will receive SIJ status.  The child’s case is vetted carefully throughout multiple stages of the process, and JDR is the appropriate court to make best interest findings.

Q: Why should we let people exploit the SIJ process?  

The state courts and USCIS act to uncover and prevent fraud so that this is a minimal risk. Even if a JDR makes the necessary findings of fact that could enable an SIJ petition to be considered by federal immigration authorities, SIJ is not a legal status entitling a child to remain in this country. A child with SIJS remains subject to removal (deportation) unless and until he or she applies for a green card, i.e., lawful permanent residency, and seeks relief from deportation. Moreover, a child who receives SIJS will not be able to use her new lawful immigration status to help her original parents to get lawful status, even if parental rights were not terminated. Furthermore, petitioning for SIJS necessarily means that these youth become known by federal immigration authorities and can be subject to deportation if their petitions are unsuccessful.

Thank you for your partnership in opposing this bill. We will work this situation closely and send updates as needed. 


HBA-VA Applauds Virginia State Bar Council Decision to Fund the Diversity Conference

The Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia (HBA-VA) applauds the Virginia State Bar Council for their decision to fund the Diversity Conference.

The VSB currently funds three conferences: the Conference of Local Bar Associations, the Senior Lawyers Conference, and the Young Lawyers Conference.

The Diversity Conference of the Virginia State Bar has existed since 2010 following the Supreme Court of Virginia’s approval of its creation and mission. The Diversity Conference has received no money from bar dues; it has been funded through private donations from entities that support the activities of the conference that focus on “increasing diversity in the legal profession and . . . ensuring that Virginia meets the legal needs of an increasingly diverse population.” Last year, the conference learned that it would no longer be allowed to solicit donations as it had been doing and that it would be subject to the same rules, restrictions and limitations of government-funded entities, including the other three conferences, which are funded by the VSB.

The Attorney General of Virginia issued a formal opinion on October 2, 2015, that the mission of the conference creates no constitutional barrier to it being funded by revenue from mandatory dues. [See http://www.oag.state.va.us/files/Wexton_15.017.pdf and Keller v. State Bar of California,496 U.S. 1 (1990).]

The Mission of the Diversity Conference is:

  • To foster and encourage diversity in admission to the bar
  • To foster and encourage diversity in advancement in the profession
  • To foster and encourage diversity in the judiciary
  • To facilitate diversity in professional leadership opportunities
  • To ensure that Virginians’ changing legal needs are met

You can visit the Diversity Conference website by clicking here.

HBAVA Cohosts Successful Lobby Day with the Virginia Coalition for Racial Diversity in the Justice System

DSC_7958On February 26, 2016 the Virginia Coalition for Racial Diversity in the Justice System gave a presentation on the issue of the lack of racial diversity in the Virginia Judiciary and our growing statewide effort to significantly increase the number of racially and ethnically diverse Judges, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders in Virginia's Justice System. The Coalition then met individually with various Senators and Delegates to raise our concerns. To see photos from the event click here.

HBAVA Held Successful Teleconference on the Lack of Racial Minorities in the Virginia Judicial System

On January 14, 2016, the HBAVA co-sponsored a teleconference with dozens of participants where Vernida R. Chaney, Manuel Leiva, and Chidi James outlined the persistent failure of the Virginia Legislature in appointing minority judges across the Commonwealth. The HBAVA will join a coalition that includes the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association and other civic organizations in order to promote minority representation in the Judiciary. We will be organizing a lobbying day in February when we will travel to Richmond to put pressure on our legislators. Additional details will be released in the coming weeks.

HBAVA Co-hosts successful reception for HNBA National President Robert Maldonad

Hispanic National Bar Reception Roberto Maldonado HBAVAHispanic National Bar Reception Roberto Maldonado HBAVA2On January 6, 2016, the HBA-VA co-sponsored a welcome reception for HNBA National President Robert Maldonado in the Washington, DC office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. The event was co-sponsored by the HNBA Region V, Maryland Hispanic Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association of DC. More than 80 attendees, including the Honorable Jeffrey Prieto and the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We heard about President Maldonado’s plans for the year, including the upcoming Corporate Counsel Conference in Las Vegas. To view additional pictures from the event please see our new page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/hispanicbarvirginia/.

Conference on Lack of Racial Minorities in the Northern Virginia Judicial System


We must take immediate, bold, and meaningful steps to hold our elected officials accountable and increase the number African American, Asian, and Hispanic judges, prosecutors, and public defenders in Northern Virginia. The lack of racial diversity in the judicial system is inexcusable. Here are the alarming facts:

22 Number of years the last time an African American was appointed as a judge

5 Number of minority judges in Northern Virginia

3 Number of African American, Asian, and Hispanic attorneys in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office

1 Number of African American judges in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia’s largest and most diverse county

1 Number of Hispanic judges appointed in Northern Virginia

0 Number of minority judges appointed to judicial vacancies within the last two years


CAN YOU JOIN US? What: Conference call w/ leaders and supporters to discuss the issue and strategize on upcoming initiatives When: Thursday, January 14th at 8:00pm

How: Conference Dial In #: Supplied upon RSVP at NOVABAA@GMAIL.COM

Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association & the Hispanic Bar Association

HBAVA hosts successful Holiday Party!

HBAVA ChristmasOn December 9, 2015, the HBA-VA  hosted its annual Holiday Party, which was co-sponsored by the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association.  Many were in attendance including 40 past and present members of the HBAVA. Thank you to all who donated food for the ACTS Food Pantry. Event pictures can be viewed in our gallery by clicking here. The HBA-VA thanks all sponsors who made this party possible.