News & Media

Volunteer Spotlight: Rico Headley-Soto

Richard “Rico” Headley-Soto is a regular at the Committee’s Workers’ Rights Clinic, where he has been volunteering for just about two years. He comes to Clinic almost every week and is highly valued for his legal acumen, Spanish language skills, computer savviness, and welcoming laugh. Rico was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in Cambridge MA, moved to Washington DC for college, and has been here ever since. He has worked for Georgetown University for the last 11 years, including the time he spent studying for a master’s degree in public policy and a law degree. Rico shared with us why he volunteers at Clinic and what challenges he sees when advising immigrant workers. 

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Class Action Lawsuit Exposes Abuse and Isolation of Immigrant Children at Virginia Facility

In the backyard of our Nation’s Capital is a place where children, who have not committed any crime, are being locked up indefinitely. How they got there, and how they are being treated, is a shameful part of America’s immigration practices and policy.

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The Committee Files Brief in Support of Client Kelvin Sewell Along with Other Civil Rights and Law Enforcement Affinity Organizations

The Committee along with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Public Justice Center, American Civil Liberties Union Of Maryland, Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association, and United Black Police Officers’ Association urge the Court to grant Sewell’s request to dismiss the case with prejudice. 

Read the brief here...

Dreamers Sue Trump for Eliminating DACA

“American democracy rests on fundamental principles of fairness and equality. Our system of justice does not punish people for things that they did not do or that they could not control. And we expect our government to abide by its commitments. In its rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, and its draconian immigration enforcement efforts, the federal government has abandoned these fundamental principles.” Complaint ¶ 1

In Casa de Maryland v. Trump we are holding the federal government to their promise to more 800,000 Dreamers—immigrants who came to the United States as children, grew up here, went to school here, created businesses and families and served in our military—and who trusted the government when they came out of the shadows and applied for DACA. We filed the lawsuit in October on behalf of a national coalition of organizations and with a stellar legal team that includes Arnold & Porter, Kaye Scholer LLP, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and the Civil Rights Clinic of the Howard University School of Law.

We are also privileged in this action to represent Dreamers Angel Aguiluz, Luis Aguilar, Estefany Rodriguez, Annabelle Martinez Herra, Heymi Elvir Maldonado, Maricruz Abarca, Nathaly Uribe Robledo, Eliseo Mages, Jeus Eusebio Perez, Josue Aguiluz, Missael Garcia, Jose Aguiluz, and Brenda Moreno Martinez.

Here are some of their stories.

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Education Justice Project Addressing Inequity in DC Schools

There remains a crisis in inequality in education in the District and across the nation. Far too often, the quality of education students receive depends on the color of their skin, the income of their family, the language they speak, the neighborhood in which they live, and whether they have a disability. Children of color, those with disabilities, and English language learners are much more frequently denied the opportunity to thrive and achieve their aspirations. Seventy-one percent of the District’s African-American students attend schools that are 99 to 100% Black, 77% of all DC public school students are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program, and test score gaps between White students and students of color persist.

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Parent Empowerment in Action: Seaton Elementary School’s Multicultural Night

Students from many backgrounds learn and grow together at Seaton Elementary School, in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest DC. The student body is racially diverse and includes a broad range of cultures. Economically, most students are members of working and low-income families. Seaton parents find strength in their diversity and it enriches the school.

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Committee Staff Attorney Christine Dinan Submits Testimony to the DC Council in Support of the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015

Read the testimony here...

The Committee Joins Nine Civil Rights Groups in Urging the Supreme Court to Reform How Compensation is Awarded for Victims of Prison Abuse

Prisoners too often suffer horrific abuses. Charles Murphy was left with a broken eye socket after correctional officer Robert Smith struck him in the eye, choked him and threw him into the metal toilet in his cell. Murphy was handcuffed during the attack. A nurse found him in his cell, stripped of his clothing. His eyesight was permanently damaged.

We are urging the Supreme Court that, when victims are subjected to this level of torture, a 1996 federal law does not require judges to reduce jury awards of victim compensation in such cases by 25%.

Read the full brief here...

Court Holds that DC Council has Authority to Address Funding Inequities in Education

The quality of an education that District of Columbia students receive still depends far too much on the neighborhood in which they live, the income of their family, the color of their skin and whether they have a disability. Measures to address this inequity is driven, in part, by the ability of the District to allocate funding for neighborhood public schools. Several charter schools brought litigation to limit the District’s ability to invest in the lowest performing schools and sought a ruling that would enrich private educational entities over the public system. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee worked with a coalition of groups to participate in this litigation and to protect the District’s ability to create high quality schools for every student. 

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Staff Spotlight: Jhonna Turner

Jhonna Turner, the Committee’s Parent Engagement Program Coordinator, spends her days working with parents to support their efforts to fight for justice and education equity for all District students. The Parent Empowerment Program (PEP) is part of the Committee’s focus on creating an equal opportunity for an education for all students. We believe that supporting each student’s civil right to a high-quality education throughout the city means helping parents and students exercise their power. (Apply here for a matching $1,000 grant if you’re a parent at a DCPS Title 1 school.)

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