Public Interest Scholarship, Latino Judge Appointed to WA Federal Bench, Victory for Foster Youth & New Tools to Help Protect LGBTI Refugees

New Web Portal to Help Rising Numbers of LGBTI Refugees Fighting for Safety



On World Refugee Day (20 June 2014), ORAM – the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration – is today launching a new online portal to help official bodies and NGOs share approaches to protecting LGBTI refugees and to adopt best practices in the face of rising persecution of LGBTI people globally.

The LGBTI Refugee Project Portal showcases projects and approaches that enhance the protection of LGBTI forced migrants in the areas of refugee status determination, policy development and research, practical protection measures and staff development. ORAM is encouraging posting of projects that will lead to better treatment of LGBTI refugees across the globe.

ORAM says the recent upsurge in the marginalization and persecution of millions of LGBTI people across the world has led to the number of refugee claims rising sharply, and yet only a small percentage are disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause, for fear of further persecution or rejection. Even when the refugees do come out, many refugee agencies are not handling their claims properly or sensitively.

In addition to launching the portal, ORAM is calling on the UNHCR to maintain and release statistics about the LGBTI refugees within its protection mandate. It says that only with accurate data can the crisis be appropriately addressed. ORAM is also calling on all government and intergovernmental bodies to ensure the appropriate training of their staff, to recognize genuine LGBTI asylum claims and to better understand what it means to be an LGBTI refugee, to help ensure they are sensitively and appropriately treated. Learn more here.


LBAW Congratulates Judge Sal Mendoza confirmation to the  2ndDistrict Federal Court of Washington 


The Latina/o Bar Association of Washington offers our utmost congratulations to Judge Sal Mendoza on his confirmation by the United States Senate to the  2ndDistrict Federal Court of Washington. He was confirmed by a vote of 92-4. Speaking in support of his nomination on the Senate floor, WA Sen. Patty Murray described Judge Mendoza as “a man who is the son of immigrant farm workers and himself worked on farms in the Yakima Valley and is now called by the President of the United States to become the very first Latino federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell spoke on the historical significance of Judge Mendoza’s confirmation stating that this “is a major step forward and one that is long overdue. One in every nine residents of Washington State is Hispanic and yet we have not had a Hispanic federal judge in the eastern part of our state.”

Judge Mendoza has also been a long-time proponent of equal access to justice through his work with Benton-Franklin Legal Aid Society and he also serves as a Columbia Basin College trustee.  LBAW looks forward to many years of distinguished service from Judge Mendoza on the federal bench.

Historic Foster Care Ruling Strengthens Rights of Foster Youth in Washington State

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June 12, 2014- Columbia Legal Services

For the first time in Washington State’s history, an appellate court has ruled this week that failure to appoint counsel to a foster youth violated the youth’s legal rights. The case found that the Pierce County juvenile court misapplied due process law by understating the youth’s interests in his case as well as the risk of error in the case. In the case, In re the Dependency of J.A., the appellate court found that the government’s financial interests did not outweigh the interests of J.A. in having legal counsel.

The following is a statement from Casey Trupin, Coordinating Attorney with the Children & Youth project at Columbia Legal Services (CLS):

“Columbia Legal Services is proud to have represented this youth on appeal and laud the court for finding that ‘the interest in protecting [him] far outweighed any administrative or fiscal burden that appointment of counsel for J.A. might have entailed.’ All children and youth like J.A., whose lives are now completely controlled by the state and the courts, should have a legal advocate to advise them and fight for their rights.”

Tuesday’s decision offers up more momentum in the fight to strengthen the rights of foster youth in our state and comes on the heels of recent legislation (SB 6126) that provides legal representation to the most vulnerable foster children and youth in Washington State. The decision in the case can be found here.

Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington Announces Public Interest Scholarship for Law Students melaw.

The Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington (“MELAW”) will award one $1,000 public interest scholarship to a Washington state law student who has, is currently, or is planning on pursuing a public interest project that benefits the Middle Eastern community of Washington (the “Project”).

Judging Criteria: Applicants will be judged on their successful completion of the scholarship application, describing their Project and connection to the Middle Eastern community of Washington.

Deadline: All application materials must be received by September 15, 2014 to merit consideration. Please email completed applications to the MELAW Scholarship Committee at

Selection and Notification: The recipient will be selected and notified by the MELAW Scholarship Committee and/or Board of Directors by October 31, 2014.

Scholarship recipients will be expected to provide a brief written report of the Project and may be asked to present on their experience at a MELAW event.