Citizenship Day of Service Opportunity, Free Human Rights Webinar on Homelessness and ICCPR, plus much more

Volunteer Opportunity: Citizenship Day of Service

become a citizenLast year, there were an estimated 180,000 legal permanent residents living in Washington state who were eligible to apply for citizenship, but only about 17,000 naturalizations (less than 10%). Help expand access to citizenship by volunteering and spreading the word!

This is a great opportunity for law students to give back to their communities and practice their skills in the field.  Washington New Americans, a partnership of the State of Washington and OneAmerica, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association are hosting Citizenship Day on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at locations in Olympia, Des Moines, Wenatchee, and Pasco.

Citizenship Day is a day-long legal clinic where volunteer immigration attorneys, paralegals, law students and interpreters offer FREE assistance with citizenship applications.  This is one of the only free citizenship services left in Washington State and it is open to everyone.  Last year, over 375 volunteers helped more than 622 people become citizens!

Paralegal and law students assist immigration attorneys by meeting one on one with clients to help complete naturalization forms.  Students may NOT provide legal advice. Students will NOT be giving legal advice.  ALL volunteers will be required to attend trainings prior to the day of the event. Trainings will be held via conference call or in person in Seattle on Thursday, October 10th.

This is a pre-approved volunteer opportunity eligible for the UW Law Pro Bono Honors Program. Student volunteers can sign up here.

Free Webinar- Cruel, Inhuman & Degrading: Homelessness in the U.S. Under the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights

national law center housingSpace is limited. Register here.

Monday, October 7, 2-3pm EDT.

On September 3, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty released to the public a report, “Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading: Criminalization of Homelessness in the U.S. under the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights,” addressing concerns raised by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in its review of the U.S.

The report, co-authored with the Yale Law School Allard K. Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, and endorsed by 23 other international, national, and local organizations, responds to a written question to the U.S. from the Human Rights Committee in March, as it prepares for its regular review of the U.S. for compliance with its human rights obligations, to take place on October 17-18 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The report clarifies that criminalization of homelessness, or penalizing homeless persons for basic life activities, such as sleeping, sitting, eating, or even going to the bathroom in public when they have no private alternatives, or targeting homeless persons for enforcement of other laws like jaywalking or littering, violates numerous rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1992. It also discusses
violations of the right to vote, to family , and nondiscrimination.

Speakers include:

Eric Tars, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Hope Metcalf, Yale Law School Allard K. Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic
Amy Sawyer & Liz Osborn, US Interagency Council on Homelessness

Come and learn about the rights involved, as well as the process of review by the U.N. Human Rights Committee and how you can make human rights real in your community.

FLOW Scholarship Applications Now Due

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The Filipino Lawyers of Washington will be awarding two $1,500 scholarships to law students attending a law school in Washington State. The Pangarap Scholarships are intended to recognize law students who have demonstrated significant commitment to community service, particularly service to the Filipino/Filipino American community.  The scholarship applicants do not have to be of Filipino descent.  Click here for the Scholarship Application Form which includes instructions and details about the scholarship, including key dates.

The deadline for submitting applications is Wed., Oct. 9. Please email abigail.daquiz@gmail.com with any questions.

Pangarap means to “dream and strive for a goal” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.

Farmworker Victory in Washington

sakuma-farmworkers-strike-2-300x226Photo courtesy: The Stand

This past week, a Skagit County Superior Court judge issued the attached temporary restraining order requiring Sakuma Bros to remove security guards they had placed in worker housing, and to desist from conducting surveillance of workers in other ways. He found the presence of the guards “intimidating” and “chilling” to the workers’ rights to associate and organize under Washington labor law. The judge also scheduled a further hearing for October 8th. This is a big victory for the workers. The workers’ press release is also attached and some links are below.

Columbia Legal Services, along with Seattle firm Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt represented an individual worker and the workers’ group Familias Unidas por la Justicia. For more on this story click here and here.

Chiquita Seeks Dismissal in Columbian Case

By Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer

BananaSeptember 21, 2013, Miami (AP) — Faced with potentially billions of dollars in legal liability, Chiquita Brands International is asking a federal appeals court to block lawsuits filed against it in the U.S. by thousands of Colombians whose relatives were killed in that country’s bloody, decades-long civil war.

The produce giant, which long had huge banana plantations in Colombia, has admitted paying a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group $1.7 million over a seven-year period. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company insists it was blackmailed into paying or risking violence against its own operations and employees, although in 2007 Chiquita pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges that it had supported terrorists. It paid a $25 million fine.

The Colombian lawsuits, consolidated for pretrial action before a federal judge in West Palm Beach, want Chiquita held liable for thousands of deaths at the hands of the AUC, the Spanish acronym for the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The Colombian relatives have won several key pretrial rulings, but now Chiquita is taking its fight for dismissal to a new level.

In essence, Chiquita wants the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the lawsuits because, the company claims, each murder cannot be tied specifically to the company. It’s not enough, Chiquita’s lawyers say in court papers, to assume the company’s payments to the AUC meant Chiquita knew about and supported those individual killings.

Read more here.