AZ Bar access to justice immigration event 12-22-14

The State Bar of Arizona continues to play a significant role in educating consumers about immigration law. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Previously, I mentioned a few events the Bar scheduled in December to help the public understand the ins and outs of the recent presidential Executive Order on immigration. Today, I offer a follow-up to the event held on December 22. Just three days before Christmas, more than a dozen lawyers offered their time and expertise to a packed-to-the-rafters crowd. It was scheduled in a way to accommodate consumers who have jobs and other daytime obligations, so it’s even more impressive that the attorneys attended until 10:00 p.m. Well done and congratulations.

The forum’s format opened with a 45-minute presentation on the topic by attorney Ezequiel Hernandez, followed by the opportunity to speak with individual lawyers.

Univision_Arizona logoKeep in mind that the December 22 event followed on the heels of a phone bank organized by the Bar the day after the President’s Executive Order (a phone bank held on a Friday night and that included some dedicated volunteer attorneys).

I can’t help but feel that the Bar is probably a long way ahead of other organizations in regard to educating folks on this breaking topic.

Here’s the update:

Thirteen volunteer attorneys came together on Monday, December 22, to offer free legal advice at an informational session and legal assistance clinic hosted by the State Bar of Arizona and its partner Univision Arizona at St. Agnes Church in Phoenix. This access to justice program, held from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., was organized to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud related to immigration law and deferred action.

Approximately 550 consumers attended the access to justice event, and 286 families participated in one-on-one consultations with volunteer attorneys.

The 13 volunteer attorneys were:

  • Marysol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Emilia Banuelos, Banuelos Law Office
  • Seth Draper, Salvatierra Law Group
  • State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorJudy Flanagan, Judy C. Flanagan, PC
  • Lisette Flores, Friendly House
  • Jaime Garcia, Garcia Law Group
  • Marni Guerrero, Guerrero Jefferies Law Group
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claudia P. Lopez PLLC
  • Jose L. Penalosa, Penalosa & Associates
  • Cynthia J. Perez,  Hammond Law Group
  • Juan Rocha, Rocha Law Office
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

[Note: This article was edited to clarify the role that Ezequiel Hernandez played in regard to the White House. According to Hernandez, he was one of four legal experts from Univision whom the White House spoke with to ensure accurate information was communicated and to communicate the message against fraud; the description of him as “a White House consultant” was inaccurate. I apologize for the error.]

You may recall that one day after the President’s Executive Order on immigration—one day—the State Bar offered an event that included lawyers giving advice on that very topic.

Now, in the week before Christmas, when most of us are devising ways to enjoy the holiday and think less about work, my colleague Alberto Rodriguez passes on news of two more immigration-related events put on by the Bar and partner Univision. One is tonight, and the second is next Monday. No rest for the weary!

(At one of the events, Univision correspondent and attorney Ezequiel Hernandez of Hernandez Global Law Firm will speak. Read more about him here.)

I’ll get to the events in a second, but I’ve got to say: They represent many, many hours of work—to locate attorneys, line up venues, and nail down all of those tiny details that can make or break public gatherings. Congratulations to Alberto and everyone who has had a hand in this.

Ezequiel Hernandez

Ezequiel Hernandez

“The State Bar of Arizona is partnering with Univision Arizona to host two access to justice programs focused on immigration/deferred action. In an effort to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud, both organizations have come together to offer a 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank on December 18 and a special immigration session and legal-aid clinic on December 22.”

“On Thursday, December 18, eight volunteer attorneys will answer viewers’ questions during the 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank from 5 to 7 p.m. on Univision 33.”

“On Monday, December 22, the Bar will host a 30-minute information session that will include an overview of the Bar’s consumer protection services and endorsements (for the Bar) by two nationally recognized immigrant rights organizations. In addition, Ezequiel Hernandez, a Contributor and legal expert for Univision News National Network, will offer a brief presentation on deferred action.”

“Following the presentation, twelve volunteer attorneys will offer one-on-one consultations. The information session and legal-aid clinic will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Saint Agnes Catholic Church located at 1954 North 24th Street in Phoenix.”

“Univision Arizona will record the information session and legal-aid clinic, which will then be broadcast as a 30-minute immigration special, replacing their evening news—date to be determined.”

The President's recent Executive Order on immigration may provide more questions than answers for immigration attorneys ... and their clients.

The President’s recent Executive Order on immigration may provide more questions than answers for immigration attorneys … and their clients.

Recently, I have mentioned some efforts by the State Bar of Arizona to provide guidance in the wake of the President’s Executive Order on immigration. And there will be more news on that front later this week (maybe even tomorrow).

In the meantime, I’m pleased to say that there is so much on offer that I entirely missed a 1.5-hour seminar on the topic offered by the CLE Department (and yes, it’s still available online).

Titled (no surprise), The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions,” it is led by three attorneys as faculty: Ayensa Millan, Alma Montes de Oca, and Ruben Reyes.

Topics include:

  • Enforcement Priorities
  • Deferred Action for Parents (DAP)
  • Expansion of DACA
  • New U/T Visas
  • 601a Waivers
  • Parole in Place
  • Visa Modernization

The seminar is available here.

On Nov. 21, 2014, volunteer attorneys answered almost 400 calls from Arizona consumers regarding immigration and the November 20 presidential executive order on the topic.

On Nov. 21, 2014, volunteer attorneys answered almost 400 calls from Arizona consumers regarding immigration and the November 20 presidential executive order on the topic.

Talk about timely: One day after historic action was taken by President Barack Obama on the topic of immigration, the State Bar of Arizona fielded a call-in program to address the inevitable questions that would arise.

As Alberto Rodriguez reports:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision 33 hosted a special edition of Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) public service program on Friday, November 21. In response to the executive order issued by President Obama on Thursday, November 20, both the Bar and Univision organized a phone bank that would help clarify consumers’ questions regarding immigration law, as well as inform them of the initial details regarding the President’s executive order. The following is a recap of the program.

Nine attorneys volunteered their time and knowledge from 5:00 pm until 10:30 pm:

  • Emilia Banuelos, Banuelos Law Office
  • Tony Colon, Colon & Associates
  • Seth B. Draper, Salvatierra Law Group
  • Mark Egan, Gunderson Denton & Peterson
  • Magaly Fontes, Law Office of Magaly Fontes
  • Bruno Gitnacht, Law Office of Bruno Gitnacht
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray Ybarra Maldonado
  • Christina Ortecho, Ortecho Law
  • Matthew Thomas, Thomas Law Firm

The attorneys answered an astounding 385 calls regarding the President’s executive order and immigration law. This special edition phone bank was extended and offered during a five-and-a-half-hour time period.

Sample consumer questions:

  • When will the details be released? When and how do I apply for deferred action?
  • What are the specific details regarding the tax returns?
  • Does this cancel removal/voluntary departure procedures?
  • I got a DUI in the past, does this count as criminal activity?
  • How do I prepare? What documents do I need to provide?
  • I am already in the process of applying for citizenship, does this affect me?

All volunteers were satisfied with the quality of the questions overall and were excited to have participated in this special edition of Abogados a Su Lado public service program.

We thank Univision 33 for their continued partnership in providing this valuable “Access to Justice” program for the Spanish-speaking community.

Artist Don Coen speaks before the opening of his "Migrant Series," Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 17, 2014.

Artist Don Coen speaks before the opening of his “Migrant Series,” Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 17, 2014.

An impressive show has launched at the Phoenix Art Museum that forces viewers to take a closer look at people and products they may take for granted. “The Migrant Series” by Don Coen is composed of arresting portraits of the migrant workers who bring much of the food to American tables. It opened on October 18 and runs through February 1, 2015.

Just a few days ago, I recommended an art-related event. I hadn’t planned to offer another so soon, but last night’s address by President Obama explaining his sweeping move to overhaul the nation’s immigration system got me thinking that this Change of Venue Friday should also head down the migrant path.

Understand, Don Coen’s remarkable artwork is not about undocumented workers or illegal immigration—though its appearance at the museum was affected by both of those things. Instead, his pieces are about the people themselves, most often workers who are here legally.

A media preview of the show on October 17 gave the opportunity to hear from the Colorado artist and some museum officials.

Ten years’ work went into the show, Coen said. And it was our relationship with our dining-room table that drove him.

“At Whole Foods, we pick up food, but we usually have no idea where it comes from,” Coen told attendees.

Perhaps best known for his previous work called the Lamar Series, Coen hopes viewers focus on the workers who bring that food to most Americans.

“I don’t think anyone will walk into the show and leave without knowing these people.”

Aiding in that result will be the near-photo-realism of the works, their close-up nature, and their massive scale.

Coen was accompanied at the media tour by his two grown sons. Shane Coen said, “Don saw the workers as friends, humans. He wanted to tell the human stories, show their faces.

Museum Director Jim Ballinger said how impressed he is by Coen’s work, including how its “luminosity is built up through layers of paint”—60 to 120 layers of paint per painting.

“This shows the back-of-the-house of the agricultural economy,” Ballinger told me. “America is so urban that we don’t see the agricultural life.”

That is the show’s most important layer, Ballinger said. When pressed, though, he did discuss the show in relation to the immigration debate.

He said that the museum delayed the show for a few years to avoid getting swept up in the debate over SB1070. “Don Coen’s first interest was not immigration,” Ballinger said. After all, most if not all of the people in the paintings are either citizens or have green cards.

Cover card Don Coen show

But the topic cannot be entirely avoided, Ballinger acknowledged, and in the context of SB1070, there may be great value in helping people understand more about the individuals who work in the fields.

“It may change people’s minds about how we get the food that we get.”

Dr. Jerry Smith, curator of American and Western American Art at the museum, agreed.

“We didn’t want the heated debate of a few years ago to overwhelm the story” of Coen’s work, he said. “There are 1.3 million citizens who are migrant farmers; when those people can see themselves be self-represented, that’s good.”

Smith spoke with me about the paintings’ scale, “which is very important because it makes the point that you are looking at people who should not be ignored.”

“The takeaway is that you really don’t have to be a head of state to get a portrait.”

Son Shane Coen told me that the family originally wasn’t sure the project was a great idea—or how it would be received.

“In the beginning, we asked him, ‘What are you painting?’”

Don Coen, Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 17, 2014.

Don Coen, Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 17, 2014.

Ultimately, though, he saw that his father was able to “bring the workers’ voices to light.”

“Hopefully, it will bring more compassion.”

Cord Coen saw the show’s importance in its ability to reveal “a world that is often invisible to us.”

More photos can be found on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

(In case you wondered (as I did), Cord explained how Don Coen worked with such massive canvases: Not (as I had guessed) via scaffold, but by having the pieces raised and lowered into a gap in the floor. That allows Coen to stand on the floor and have the piece ride up and down on a track.)

Don Coen, Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 17, 2014.

Don Coen, Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 17, 2014.

Here is some more background from the Phoenix Art Museum:

Don Coen: The Migrant Series was organized by Phoenix Art Museum and opens there on October 18, 2014. The exhibition is comprised of a series of 15 large-scale, realistic portrait paintings of migrant farm laborers by the Colorado artist. The paintings are inspired by photographs of individuals that Coen took on farms across the U.S. over a decade. During the hundreds of hours he spent in the fields studying and taking photos of these farmers, Coen got to know each person’s story and it shows in these paintings. Over the past decade, he painted these works measuring almost 10 by 7 feet using dozens of layers of paint applied with a spray gun—then added the finishing details by hand with pencil. In these portrait paintings, the artist’s non-traditional approach of using airbrush is apparent.

FIRRP Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project logoWhen the planning for this Friday’s educational seminar on unaccompanied minors in federal custody occurred, would anyone have guessed the topic would grip the nation?

Attorneys have been invited to attend the immigration CLE by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. Space for the Phoenix event is limited to 180 people. As the Florence Project says, “Please share this with your colleagues at your law firms and with other attorneys who may be interested in helping detained immigrant children.”

The cost to attend is $75 until July 22, and all proceeds benefit the Florence Project. You can register and pay online here (be sure to indicate “CLE” on the “purpose” line). Questions? Contact the Project’s most excellent Pro Bono Program Director, Tally Kingsnorth, at tkingsnorth@firrp.org.

Here is more information about the event, to be held at the Fragomen law firm, 3003 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Reception is at Suite 1200, but the seminar will be in the basement auditorium.

Please note that parking for this CLE will NOT be validated and will be at your own expense. Seating is limited to first come, first served.

The training will begin with a discussion of the current UAC situation along the Mexico–U.S. border, ORR custody, and background on children in removal proceedings. Next, the instructors will briefly cover the mechanics of an SIJ case for minors in removal proceedings (Note: the Florence Project presented on SIJS last year and will be scheduling another more intensive CLE on this topic later in the fall). Finally, the presenters will review U visas, T visas, and asylum claims for children.

Instructor Bios: This CLE opportunity will be led by Laura Belous and Golden McCarthy. Before joining the Florence Project’s staff (for a second time), Laura worked as a Staff Attorney with the Pima County Office of Children’s Counsel and represented over 450 children in dependency proceedings. Previously, she was the Mental Health Equal Justice Works Fellow with the Florence Project and represented clients with serious mental illnesses in Eloy, Florence, and Phoenix for two years. Golden spent four years as an ESL teacher and then director of an adult education program in Brooklyn, New York. While in law school, Golden was President of CUNY Law Moot Court and a Fellow for the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE) under the directive of the Honorable Jenny Rivera. She also participated in the Economic Justice Project and the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic at CUNY Law.

This CLE may qualify for three hours of CLE credit.

pro bono gavelFans of lawyers and the service they provide (count me in) always look forward to Law Day. Traditionally close to early May, Law Day helps cement the important connection between members of the public, attorneys, judges and the rule of law.

Searching for “law day” in my blog leads to a surprising number of hits over the years. Clearly, I am taken by the pro bono value attorneys provide (here is last year’s post). And this year is no exception.

Like last year, the State Bar of Arizona’s approach will be to offer free legal advice clinics, in the Valley and in Tucson. The clinics will cover a wide variety of legal topics, including landlord and tenant; bankruptcy and foreclosure; immigration; and divorce, child support and paternity.

Volunteer lawyers will conduct the 90-minute “information sessions.”

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color“Guests can participate in one or more sessions at one of the five partner locations.”

The events will be held on Saturday, April 26. Please spread the word and share this post with anyone you think might benefit from some free legal advice.

All the detail, including times and specific locations, can be found here.

Later this week I will share another Law Day event, hosted by an independent legal organization. The more the merrier.

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