History

History
A legacy of defending Latinx rights
For more than 40 years LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond.

Selected milestones of LatinoJustice PRLDEF's history:

1970s

1972

The Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund was established through the leadership of Cesar Perales, Victor Marrero and Jorge Batista to protect the civil rights of Puerto Ricans.

1972

Aspira v. Board of Education, PRLDEF’s first case establishes the right of NYC public school children, to receive bilingual education while simultaneously learning English.

1973

Lopez v. Dinkins and other cases enforce the right to bilingual ballots and interpreters for Puerto Rican voters established by Congress in 1965. After PRLDEF’s efforts normalized regional bilingual voting systems, Congress extended them to other Spanish-dominant citizens as well as Native American and Asian American voters.

1980s - 1990s

1983

Guardians Association litigation reaches U.S. Supreme Court and establishes standards for employment discrimination challenges to civil service exams in the uniformed services.

1986

Attorney General of NY v. Soto-Lopez reaches U.S. Supreme Court and protects Puerto Rican veterans who enlist while living in Puerto Rico the same civil service benefits as veterans from any state.

1999

PRLDEF Institute for Puerto Rican Policy publishes ground-breaking report on abysmal state of Latino appointments and elections to New York Courts.

2000s

2000

PRLDEF and Robert Kennedy, Jr. join forces to sue the U.S. Navy for violations of environmental and civil rights laws in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

2006

Lozano v. Hazleton successfully challenges the country’s first anti-immigrant ordinance – the case begins a wave of successful challenges to anti-Latino immigrant copycat laws throughout the U.S.

2008

PRLDEF formally becomes LatinoJustice PRLDEF. The new name signified the evolving nature of the Latino community, the makeup of the organization’s clients, and legal cases, while simultaneously reflecting its Puerto Rican roots.

2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court as the first Latino/Latina to ever serve. Justice Sotomayor previously served as a member of the PRLDEF Board of Directors starting in 1980. LJP was instrumental in Senate confirmation hearings to ward off extremist charges against her nomination.

2014

LJP opens a Southeast Regional Office in Orlando, Florida to serve the growing Puerto Rican / Latino community in Florida, Georgia and the Southeast.
 

2017

LatinoJustice responded to the unprecedented disaster of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, working with the local legal community to open an office that has provided legal assistance to thousands of Puerto Ricans, on the island and in the Diaspora, seeking relief and recovery.

2018

After 45 years, PRLDEF Education Division has assisted 10,000 Puerto Rican and Latino attorneys through counseling and preparatory programs.