Call to Action on Legislation Impacting PR

Dear Friends: 

In the few days left in the year, Congress is considering the following items that could destroy or restore Puerto Rico:

·      Disaster Relief for the US island territory

·      Health Legislation that ends or continues the inequity between US Citizens on the island and those on the mainland

·      Federal Tax Legislation that increases by 20% the excise taxes on island products sold in the US. Puerto Rico based businesses are treated as "foreign corporations." 

 In response, the National Puerto Rican AgendaUnidos PA'PR, and PA4PR are encouraging all who care about Puerto Rico to call Congress and ask their elected officials to provide the humanitarian help that the island's 3.5 million US citizens need to improve the US territory.

·      Provide a fair amount of Disaster Relief on par with that of other US hurricane tragedies. Physical damage and lost economic productivity in Puerto Rico is estimated to be $95 billion. Provide disaster assistance without putting Puerto Rico further in debt by waiving the FEMA cost-sharing mechanism required to receive assistance programs and by forgiving FEMA Community Disaster Loans as it was done with Hurricane Katrina.

·      Remove the cap on Federal Medicaid funds provided to Puerto Rico and make residents of the US territory eligible for the same Medicare benefits afforded to mainland seniors. Hurricane Maria aggravated the pre-existing healthcare crisis and funding gap, further incentivizing Puerto Ricans to move to the mainland where they can receive full benefits. Congress must also temporarily increase the Federal Medicaid matching rate for Puerto Rico to 100%, just as it was raised for Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

·      Ensure that Tax Reform does no harm to Puerto Rico. The new tax legislation presently considered by Congress must:       

§  NOT levy a 20% excise tax on goods manufactured in Puerto Rico by subsidiaries of US corporations

§  NOT tax 12.5% of income from intellectual property held by US corporations in Puerto Rico

§  EXTEND the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to all families in Puerto Rico

 Puerto Rico has earned the right to be treated fairly by Congress. There are more US veterans living on the island than there are US veterans living in the District of Colombia and in each of the following eight states: Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

 Since 1917, more than 700,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the US armed forces. Puerto Rican soldiers have participated, with distinction, in all US theaters of war (WWI; WWII; Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan).

Please (Por favor) -

·      Call your member of Congress ASAP and ask them to: 

§  Provide Puerto Rico with a fair amount of Disaster Relief on par with that of other US hurricane tragedies.

§  Remove the cap on Federal Medicaid funds provided to Puerto Rico and make residents of the US territory eligible for the same Medicare benefits afforded to mainland seniors.

§  Ensure that 'Tax Reform' does no harm to Puerto Rico - STOP the 20% excise tax on Puerto Rican goods sold in the US mainland.

·      Thank them for their hard work

·      Let them know that you intend to stay in touch with their office because you want humane treatment for Puerto Rico.

 Phone numbers & addresses for members of the US Congress.

Puerto Rico depends on YOU to be its voice.

Although Puerto Rico is a US Territory and its residents are US citizens, the people who live on the island do not have the right to vote for President, nor the right to have US Senators or voting members of the US House of Representatives. It is up to YOU to make the US Congress live up to the ideals that helped to forge it in Philadelphia. Chief among those ideals was 'No taxation without representation.'

Thank you for helping Puerto Rico. Encourage others to add their voice to our humane chorus.

For more information about how to help Puerto Rico with your voice please visit: the National Puerto Rican AgendaVoice of Puerto RicoThe Center for Puerto Rican Studies; and BoricuActívatEd.

Ending shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico would help the U.S. island, Pennsylvania

By Will Gonzalez
October 16, 2017

Permanently exempting Puerto Rico from the Jones Act will help the U.S. territory recover from Hurricane Maria by widely opening its market for exports from the mainland, including Pennsylvania.

The 1920 Jones Act requires all shipping between two U.S. ports to be via naval vessels owned, built, and flagged in the U.S. It was enacted at a time when the size of a country’s naval prowess was the measure of a nation’s might. Its usefulness in protecting our national interests is outdated in the age of globalization and technological advancements. The steep decline in the number of ships eligible to carry cargo under the act demonstrates its ineffectiveness. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of U.S.-flagged oceangoing freighters dropped from 2,926 to 169 between 1960 and 2016, while the total number of freighters navigating the planet’s oceans increased from 17,317 to 41,674.

The laws of supply and demand, plus myriad other factors, make U.S. shipping one of the most expensive modes of moving ocean cargo. This cost is detrimental to Puerto Rico. A 2010 University of Puerto Rico study concluded that the island lost $537 million per year as a result of the Jones Act. Although some experts claim the act’s effect on the Puerto Rican economy is “uncertain,” most agree that the net effect is negative. A 2012 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York stated that the act boosts the cost of imported goods to island residents, makes exports less competitive, and diminishes the viability of Puerto Rico as a major regional trans-shipment port.

Hurricane Maria, the fifth-strongest storm ever to hit the U.S., washed away any doubts about the need to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act. The storm left the island without electricity, killed at least 48 people, destroyed thousands of homes, and caused more than $95 billion in damages. Puerto Rico does not have the options of interstate trucking, rail, or pipelines to transport the large volume of material, food, and fuel needed to rebuild the island following the storm. It is inhumane to let the Jones Act bottleneck progress when there are 3.5 million U.S. citizens in distress. Permanently exempting Puerto Rico from the Jones Act also would help the island address its $72 billion debt.

To read more, please visit..

Thank You!

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On Oct. 19, 2017 at the ARTS Ballroom, we celebrated the 28th Annual Scholarship Dinner HBAPA Legal Education Fund (HBALEF).  Thank you all for joining us and supporting the mission of the HBALEF.  It was an amazing night of pride and celebration!

That night, we honored the Rev. Luis Cortés, President and CEO of Esperanza. For 30 years, Esperanza has been one of the leading voices for change and positive transformation for Latinos in America.  What began as a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of Philadelphia’s Latino community, is now a national and international model of community empowerment and development. Through Esperanza,  Rev. Cortés has carried out his mission to transform on issues related to economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Rev. Cortés is an extraordinary member of our community and we could not be more proud to have honored him on Oct. 19th for all his dedication to the community. We thank  Rev. Cortés for all he has done and continues to do for Latinos across America.

As always, our scholarship recipients were the stars of the LEF celebration. This year the LEF awarded scholarships to Elva Perales, Antonio Ochoa, Ronald Kolla, Valerie Diaz, Derek J. Demeri, and Christopher Rodrigues. All LEF scholarship recipients received $3,000 to assist with their legal education. We also celebrated the HBAPA & Stradley Ronon  scholarship recipient, Rebecca Cabrera. She received a $5,000 scholarship, and a paid summer internship to work at Stradley Ronon LLP.  

We are proud of each student for their hard work, and dedication to helping the Latino community move forward.  Of course, we thank the members, supporters, and our sponsors for helping us create opportunities for the next generation of latino lawyers in Pennsylvania.


2017 LEF Scholarship Recipients

Elva Perales

The Penn State University School of Law

Antonio R. Ochoa
Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Ronald Kolla
Temple University Beasley School of Law

Valerie Diaz
Temple University Beasley School of Law

Derek J. Demeri
Rutgers School of Law

Christopher Rodrigues
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law


2018 Stadley Ronon & HBAPA Scholarship  Recipient

Rebecca Cabrera
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Announcing the 2018-19 U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship

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Greetings and Saludos Colleagues, Supporters, and Friends,

I am thrilled and honored to announce the launch of the U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship!
The U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship brings together talented and emerging leaders who are committed agents of transformation in U.S. Latino and other underserved communities.
I am reaching out to you because of your dedication and efforts to transform communities. In your work, you have undoubtedly come across talented and diverse leaders working across sectors to reduce disparities in U.S. Latino and other underserved communities. These leaders – at all stages of their careers – could benefit from the U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship.
Please help us recruit the inaugural cohort of the U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship!
Beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, the U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship will provide students with a full tuition scholarship, health insurance, $25,000 living stipend and a comprehensive cocurricular leadership development program during their course of study at HKS (one to two years). Students from joint or concurrent degree programs offered by the school are also encouraged to apply.

To apply for the 2018-2019 academic year, prospective degree candidates must complete the following two steps:
1. Apply to Harvard Kennedy School by December 4, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST.
2. Apply for the U.S. Latino Leadership Fellowship by January 24, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. EST.

With your support, we hope to reach a diverse network of leaders. Please share this information widely. If you, or anyone you know, has questions about applying to HKS and/or the fellowship please contact me at or 617.495.1386.

Thank you for your support getting the word out about this exciting fellowship opportunity!
Erika Carlsen
Assistant Director for Fellowship Programs
Center for Public Leadership
Harvard Kennedy School

Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Miny Law Day Programs

The PBA MBC is once again hosting Minority Law Day programs in November.  The Central PA program will be held on November 6 at Widener University Commonwealth Law School and the Philadelphia program will be held on November 16 at the PBI Conference Center. 

We are expecting about 70-80 students for the Central PA program and about 150-200 students for the Philadelphia program.  Lawyer, judge and law student volunteers are needed to make these programs successful and ensure a good experience for the students!

CLE is available (2 substantive credits & 1 ethics credit) for volunteers at both programs.  To be eligible for the credits you must attend the full day as the substantive and ethics material is interspersed throughout the day.  A CLE registration form will be available in the near future.

Below are the tentative agendas for both programs.  Please reply to to advise me if you are able to volunteer and if so, which program you will be helping with.  Also, please forward this information to colleagues who may be interested as well as to any affinity bar group you may be a member of.  You do not need to be a member of PBA or the MBC in order to volunteer for these programs.


Minority Bar Committee

Minority Law Day 2017

Funded by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation

Widener University Commonwealth Law School

Monday, November 6, 2017     8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

8:30-9:00 a.m.
Administration Building Room A180
9:00-9:15 a.m.
Program Overview
Introduction and Welcome of PBA Attorney Volunteers, Local High School Participants & Chaperones
9:15-10:15 a.m.
Exploring Early Interest   
Widener Law students share their insight into the law school experience & high school students explore future prospects for attending law school.  Presentation by Widener Admissions Office.
10:15-10:25 a.m.
Legal Advocacy Exercise
Presentation of mock legal problem.
10:30-11:30 a.m.[1]
Breakout Sessions 
High School students and chaperones engage in exercises of legal advocacy facilitated by PBA Attorney Volunteers
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Legal Advocacy over Lunch
Discussion of legal & policy arguments developed in the break out sessions
12:30-1:00 p.m.
Student Recognition 
PBA Attorney Volunteers recognize the outstanding advocacy & leadership skills of select high school students
1:00-1:30 p.m.
Careers in Law/Closing
PBA Attorney Volunteers highlight dynamic careers in the legal profession, program closing remarks & departure

[1] Informal ten-minute break as appropriate between individual break out sessions lunch.



(Funded by Pennsylvania Bar Foundation)


PBI Conference Center, Philadelphia PA

Monday, November 13, 2017

8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.


8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Arrivals, Registration, & Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.

Welcome Remarks

9:15 – 9:45 a.m.

Keynote Speaker

10:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Small Group Activity

Attorneys and students will review

the problem and discuss current

free speech issues.

12:15 - 12:45 p.m.


12:45 – 2:00 p.m.

Mock Court Argument followed by questions and answers, and discussion

2:00 – 2:30 p.m.