In June 2014, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve and was sworn in as the Chair of the Hispanic Issues Section. Under the leadership of Immediate Past HIS Chair, Justice Patricia Alvarez, and the HIS Board, we had built a strong foundation last year so that our membership and community outreach efforts this year could succeed. We took the bull by the horns and got to work! So far this year, our HIS membership numbers have reached an all time high--we now have over 500 members! As more members become available to get involved and participate, the more we can get done.
Our HIS Board and membership also saw a great opportunity to serve our members and our community as our country faced a humanitarian crisis with thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at our borders. We definitely had a mandate, and there definitely was a need! In July 2014, I reached out to the State Bar of Texas President, Trey Apffel, as well as other statewide leaders, and formed a coalition of working partners/organizations to begin training and volunteering in order to prepare Texas attorneys to provide Pro Bono services and help deal with this crisis. There was a great need for Pro Bono services to provide unaccompanied children with basic legal services to ensure these children were afforded due process of law and assistance during immigration and other court proceedings, as well as to provide humanitarian aid and assistance.
The HIS stepped up in a big way! Together, we put together an incredible coalition working together for this great cause. Workshops were organized across Texas in order to train attorneys and volunteers regarding the Immigration process. Goods and funds were collected for humanitarian aid. As just one example, a workshop that was put together in Houston drew over 500 attendees, the largest workshop of its kind to date. Several other workshops have followed. Hundreds of Texas attorneys have been trained and many Pro Bono hours have been clocked. Thanks to all that have participated. You can learn more about our efforts, and upcoming training and volunteer opportunities relating to the unaccompanied minor crisis, on the unaccompanied minor crisis page on this website.
We also recently held a reception and happy hour in McAllen, Texas – the first of what we hope are many HIS events across the state. We want to meet you! You can always find upcoming events and other information on the calendar on this website, but in closing, I want to highlight a few additional upcoming opportunities for you to connect with HIS:
- February 6, 2015 - HIS Event at American Bar Association Midyear Meeting - Hilton of the Americas, Houston, Texas
- February 24, 2015 - HIS / MABA-TX Legislative Conference - Texas Law Center, Austin, Texas
- March 20, 2015 - HIS Event at HNBA Corporate Counsel Conference - San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio, Texas
- March 29, 2015 - MABA-TX Law Student Conference - SMU Dedman School of Law, Dallas, Texas - Additional Info
- June 18-19, 2015 - State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting - Grand Hyatt San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas - General Info
I hope to see you at these and other events, and if you are not a member, I encourage you to join HIS! If you have any questions or comments about the section or its activities, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Benny Agosto, Jr.
Chair, Hispanic Issues Section, State Bar of Texas
Posted December 9, 2014