Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday nominated Appeals Court Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt to a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court, paving the way for her to become the first Latina to serve on the high court bench.
In a press conference, Baker highlighted Wendlandt’s thoughtfulness, collegiality and judiciousness in tapping her for the seat, one of two on the court Baker has been deliberating over.
“The judges and lawyers with whom we spoke uniformly support Judge Wendlandt,” Baker said. “She’s the total package. She’s patient, even-keeled and down-to-earth.
“Her fellow justices know they can depend on her and have said that her decisions are true to the law and the facts of each case and demonstrate her open-minded approach to the issues.”
The move comes days after Baker nominated Associate Justice Kimberly Budd as its next chief justice.
Along with the associate justice seat that Budd will vacate if she is confirmed, Baker also has to fill the seat that will open later this year with Judge Barbara Lenk’s retirement. Doing so will mean Baker has appointed all seven justices of the top court, if his nominees are confirmed.
Baker said the court has indicated that its members would like to Baker to fill the two seats by the end of the year, which the governor said he would try to do.
Baker appointed Wendlandt to the Appeals Court bench in 2017 to fill the seat that opened up with Elspeth Cypher’s elevation to the SJC. A New Orleans native and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, Wendlandt graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT before attending Stanford University Law School.
Wendlandt thanked her parents for giving her the opportunities she has had, saying she hoped to make them proud with her role on the court.
The Governor’s Council, which will vet Wendlandt for the SJC post, unanimously confirmed her for the Appeals Court.
Before becoming a judge, Wendlandt was a partner in the intellectual property litigation group at Ropes & Gray LLP. She clerked for Judge John Walker Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after graduating law school in 1996.
Last Thursday, Baker repeatedly highlighted Budd’s ability to listen to others and collaborate as he nominated her for for chief justice, paving the way for her to
“More than ever, we need her leadership,” Baker said, noting that her nomination comes amid a pandemic as well as ongoing calls for racial justice. “This court needs to led by someone who listens.”
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan won the U.S. Senate race in New Mexico, bringing the total of Latino senators to five.
“Thank you, New Mexico! Tonight, our campaign showed that people power can elect the son of an ironworker and a public school employee to the Senate,” Lujan tweeted early Wednesday. “I’m grateful for every vote we earned — and no matter who you voted for, it will be my honor to work for you in the Senate.”
Lujan, who gave up his seat in the House to run for the Senate, led in the polls for much of his campaign against Republican Mark Ronchetti, a television meteorologist. Lujan succeeds Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat who did not seek re-election.
According to NBC News’ exit poll, Lujan defeated Ronchetti by about 5 percentage points.
With his win, Lujan joins an elite group of Latinos in the Senate: Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who made history in 2017 as the first Latina elected to the Senate.
The 117th Congress will have a record number of Native American women after voters elected three to the House of Representatives.
Democrats Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo member representing New Mexico, and Sharice Davids, a Ho-Chunk Nation member representing Kansas, both retained their seats after becoming the first Native American women elected to Congress, in 2018.
They are joined by Yvette Herrell, who is Cherokee. Herrell, a Republican, beat the Democratic incumbent Xochitl Torres Small for her New Mexico congressional seat.
The wins for Herrell and Haaland mean that New Mexico will be the first state to have two indigenous women as congressional delegates. The state also became the first to elect women of color as all three of its delegates in the US House of Representatives.
According to a Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) report, 18 indigenous women were running for congressional seats this year – a record in a single year. Native American women made up 2.6% of all women running for Congress this year, the highest percentage since CAWP started collecting data in 2004.
There have been four Native Americans in the US Senate and a handful of indigenous US representatives. All were men until Haaland and Davids were elected in 2018.
Community organizations across Western New York are making the push to get people to vote as Election Day, on November 3, gets closer. This includes the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York.
Esmeralda Sierra is the president of the organization. She told 2 On Your Side’s Karys Belger she’s been helping spread information about voting at the handful events the organization has hosted since the COVID-19 Pandemic started.
She says there’s also been a push to spread information digitally.
“We’re trying to promote to our Facebook, to our Twitter, and our LinkedIn the importance of voting,” she said.
A Pew Research Center report says Hispanic voters will make up the largest Non-White, eligible voting population in this election.
With this knowledge, Sierra says it’s important to make sure every one of those voices is accounted for. She also says she’s noticed increased eagerness among younger voters who are eligible to vote.
“You can see that the younger generations are excited. They’re not afraid to make themselves heard,” Sierra said.
Lilian Mancancela, a recent graduate of the University at Buffalo agrees. She tells 2 On Your Side she’s eager to see the number of Hispanic voters who will head to the polls.
“I’ve always been someone who pushed others to get politically engaged and I’ve also wondered why that wasn’t the case in previous years,” Mancancela said.
Mancancela’s parents immigrated to the United States from Ecuador and she says that experience helped shape her passion for politics. She’s also noticed the increased attention being given to Hispanic voters and she wants to make sure her peers know their votes will make a difference.
“I think it’s long overdue but I’m glad it’s happening at the moment and I think it’s a great opportunity for underrepresented groups to get out there.”
Mancancela is one of the thousands of young voters making up what Pew Research Center says is the most diverse electoral population to date.
The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is launching a wide lineup of resources and technical assistance to help minority-owned businesses during the pandemic.
The chamber announced the launch of its “#JuntosSacramento” campaign, which translates to “together Sacramento,” on Monday. The campaign is aimed at bringing together all corners of Sacramento’s Latino community, which includes immigrants and people who draw their heritage from a mix of countries and languages, said Cathy Rodriguez Aguirre, CEO of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber.
Minority-owned businesses have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, as they may have lower cash reserves and less access to banking resources to buoy their businesses.
The effort includes one-on-one consulting, resources on digital marketing and financial planning during the pandemic and job training programs.
The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber received about $615,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, dollars for the initiative. Those dollars arrived from a $3 million grant that the Sacramento Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative received from the city of Sacramento. The Sac IEDC was formed two years ago, and includes 15 groups within it like the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber and several property business improvement districts.
“Hispanic and minority owned businesses have been a historic pillar in the growth of Sacramento and our mission is to help the region recover from the impacts of Covid-19 by supporting the community through increased services and new, innovative programs,” Rodriguez Aguirre said, in a prepared statement. “Through our partnership with SAC IEDC we will be able to help foster more business development and spur economic growth.”
The program includes a free, six-part webinar series on topics like digital marketing, financial planning and disaster preparedness. The series starts on Oct. 23 and runs every other Friday, and will be conducted in Spanish and English.
The Latino community has been standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. LULAC Chief Executive Officer Sindy M. Benavides and UnidosUS Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Eric Rodriguez shared their thoughts with HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM) on the Black Lives Matter movement, Latinos’ participation, and the changes they hope to see.
HNM: What were your thoughts when you first heard what happened to George Floyd?
Benavides: Horrified, deeply saddened, but unfortunately not surprised to learn that yet another criminal cop had taken the life of a person of color. America is built upon systemic oppression and discrimination, systems that activists have tried to bring to light and fight against for decades. When we heard of what happened to George Floyd, and when we watched the video of police officers watching their colleague murder a man and refuse to stop him, we were distraught over the state of the police force and the loss of life. We share our thoughts and prayers with George Floyd’s family, as well as the family and communities of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Andres Guardado, Carlos Ingram-Lopez, Erik Salgado, and the hundreds of others who have lost their lives to a discriminatory policing system.
Rodriguez: I was horrified and shocked by George Floyd’s murder. Police killings of unarmed minorities is not a new story, and anyone who is Black or Brown is likely familiar with the type of racial profiling and hyper aggression by law enforcement that played out in that episode. But this incident transpired in daylight, surrounded by people filming it on their smart phones, and with other police officers standing by watching while a handcuffed Black man on the ground is slowly incapacitated and ultimately killed by an officer before their eyes. That’s something most Americans do not see every day.
HNM: What are your thoughts on the policy changes happening? Do you feel they are affecting genuine and lasting change?
Benavides: We need to urgently implement policy changes at the local and national level to dismantle police brutality. LULAC fully believes that these changes, combined with the work of thousands of activists, can help enact lasting change in this deeply flawed society. Policy initiatives like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act are a good start in the long battle of eradicating policy brutality and addressing the variety of issues that take the lives of our Black community in this country. This is a good start, but much more needs to happen both at the federal and local levels for true change to be achieved. We have also joined efforts by progressive allies such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and support the following federal reforms:
Prohibit racial profiling with robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated.
Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation.
Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states to implement this standard; require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force.
Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches.
Rodriguez: The demonstrations and protests have opened up the possibility for real social change. The death of George Floyd, and other recent incidents of racism caught on video, has also helped to open the eyes of many Americans about the many ways that racism shows up in our society. One result is the cross-racial solidarity we have witnessed among the protesters and the advocates calling for change. Another result is the heightened consciousness we see on display across the country. For instance, the historical symbols of racism and prejudice in America are now under intense public scrutiny. Many more Americans seem ready to acknowledge that the heroes and flags of the Confederacy belong in American history books and museums rather than displayed and honored in public places, or on government buildings or civic institutions. And in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, how many more Americans today know what Juneteenth is?
Despite this, when it comes to public policy, I am less hopeful. There are few examples in our history when widespread justice for racial and ethnic minorities transpired absent a strong federal role. The power of the federal government has in most cases been necessary to break up the culture and practice of racism that fossilized in cities, states, and within our institutions.
Yet, we certainly cannot stop fighting for change in political leadership and federal laws. Our CEO and President Janet Murguía contributed to President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force, which identified recommendations for local and state authorities that included community policing and accountability measures. We also support policy changes working their way through Congress, and there is a good chance that some cities will be able to put in place some new practices that can help. Finally, UnidosUS is registering, educating and mobilizing voters this fall in what stands to be a pivotal election.
HNM: How have Latinos stood in solidarity with the Black lives matter movement?
Benavides: Police brutality is an issue that affects both Black and Brown communities. Something that is often missed is that under the ethnicity of Hispanic, we have members who identify as Black, who may be Afro-Latino, or mixed. That is why many Latino organizations and Latino leaders have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, including LULAC. We are also working with our councils to ensure they also have the tools to work with their local elected to implement local reforms. LULAC has also created a microsite on our website to make sure that we are providing resources and information to the Latino community on how it can support the Black Lives Movement.
Rodriguez: Latinos are speaking out, protesting and marching, joining advocacy efforts to push for needed policy changes and encouraging self-reflection about how anti-Black racism and colorism shows up within the Latino community. The Latino community, which is about 58 million strong, has also felt the blows of prejudice and inequality. Nearly 25 percent of Latinos identify as Afro-Latino and experience both racial and ethnic discrimination in their daily lives.
The same unchecked police power that has taken the lives of Black Americans is used to separate our families, put children in cages and racially profile us. This broken system has led too many Latinos to fear law enforcement, with deadly consequences—as in the tragic cases of Andres Guardado in Los Angeles and Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez in Tucson.
So, our solidarity with the Black community is rooted in the shared lived experience of facing racism and oppression that harms all communities. Most Latinos do not just empathize with the experience of Black Americans who are abused and targeted by police, but they also identify with that experience.
HNM: How has the Black Lives Matter impacted the Hispanic community?
Benavides: Black Lives Matter has shown the power of sustained grassroots organizing, a great model for the Latino community to follow. We have learned that change takes time and this moment has been 400+ years in the making. Most importantly, we know that their success is our success and that it will benefit all communities who are targeted and marginalized. And, in this process, BLM has spurred a national conversation among Latinos around anti-blackness. It has forced us to look into the mirror and acknowledge our own shortcomings. I think this is a valuable conversation that is sorely needed and we have and continue to learn from it.
Rodriguez: The Black Lives Matter movement has brought necessary attention to the pervasiveness of police abuse and bias that results in the death of Black Americans and the lack of accountability and injustice that follows. The movement has given many Latinos, who have also been harmed, aggrieved or offended by police practices, a voice and a means of expressing their frustration in a way that advances social change. The movement has sparked needed conversations that can push state and local governments to reinvest in their communities in a way that enhances public safety while helping residents thrive economically and socially.
HNM: How can Latinos participate in this movement?
Benavides: Latinx people can participate in the movement by being physically present in support of this movement. And using our voices to practice proper allyship in this time of need and centering Black voices in everything you do. Acknowledge your privileges and make an effort to learn about the Black Lives Matter experience. We encourage everybody in our Latinx community to use their voices for good and support Black voices in all of their actions. ‘Tu lucha es mi lucha’ should ring true to our hearts as we strive to build a more inclusive democracy where all of us are equal and treated equally in all aspects of society.
Rodriguez: Latinos have long been in the fight to end systemic racism and discrimination that manifests across our society and filters through the private sector and our government systems. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health, housing, education, and voting through the courts or Congress have been important ways to tackle structural racism.
Right now, the Congress is debating police reforms. Latinos can call their senators and demand that Leader McConnell bring the Justice in Policing Act to a vote. They can call members of Congress and demand annual congressional oversight hearings to review the status of the implementation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act to compel the collection, reporting, and analysis of all deaths, by race and gender, that occur in law enforcement custody.
Those who are moved to organize and express their concerns about the status quo can do many other things, such as join peaceful marches and protests, demand accountability from political leaders, fight for policy changes at the local level and support and donate to organizations at the forefront of the fight, like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Color of Change, UndocuBlack, RaceForward and many others.
Latinos can contact their police departments, city council and/or Attorneys General and demand meaningful investigations and prosecutions of incidents involving abuse of force against racial and ethnic minorities. They can vote with these concerns in mind.
And most of all, for those Latinos who, upon self-reflection, recognize that they have been too silent and accepting of anti-Blackness within their circle of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, it is time to take responsibility and act. If we are to dismantle systemic factors that enable the scourge of anti-Blackness, colorism and race-based violence to grow, we must start by healing ourselves and preparing for the hard work and courageous conversations ahead.
The Navajo Nation patrol car pulled up to the jail near the center of town and Officer Carolyn Tallsalt stepped out. She adjusted her surgical mask, pressing the edges so they sealed against her cheeks, then flung open the door to the back seat where there was a woman in handcuffs.
A jail guard proceeded to pepper the woman, arrested for disturbing the peace, with questions.
Have you been in contact with anyone known to have coronavirus? Have you contracted the virus yourself? Do you have a fever or body aches?
“No, no, no,” the mask-less woman mumbled, before coughing twice into the open air. Tallsalt stepped back.
The guard placed a temperature gun to the woman’s forehead — 95.8, a few degrees lower than the average body temperature. Cleared to go inside, the woman walked to the side entrance, escorted by Tallsalt. That routine process, which Tallsalt has performed countless times in a nearly 20-year career, carries a stressful new weight during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the start of each shift, she thinks the same thing: I hope I am not exposed today.
More than a dozen fellow Navajo Nation officers have contracted the virus along with thousands of residents of the sprawling reservation.
“My anxiety is out of control,” Tallsalt, 53, said on a recent afternoon. “You don’t know who has it.”
Since mid-March, when the novel coronavirus began to spread like a brush fire on the dry, remote 27,000-square-mile reservation, daily patrols for the nearly 200 Navajo Nation officers have transformed into an exhausting mix of stress and overwhelming sadness.
Here on the Navajo Nation — spanning portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — nearly everyone knows at least one victim of the deadly virus.
For many people in the LGBTQ+ community, the gender question, asked in every type of official form, can be an unpleasant experience. Those who identify as non-binary, genderfluid, or a gender that isn’t simply “male” or “female” can find this question daunting, as it forces them to identify themselves in a category in which they feel neither apply.
For the 2020 Census, the only options to choose from are “Male” and “Female,” with no write-in third option or even a box that says, “Other.” This has led many people in the LGBTQ+ community to not feel properly represented and discourages them from filling out the census altogether. For the next census, set to go out in 2030, the goal is to include the LGBTQ+ community in a much more effective way.
However, even though the gender question has been deemed as undesirable, it is still imperative that LGBTQ+ people fill out this year’s census, as it does more than just count the population.
The results of the Census determine how much money will go into federal funding for state programs. For every person who is not included in the Census, an estimated $2000 is lost to programs that exist to serve some of the biggest needs in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2015, $175 million in funding from the Census was distributed to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program, while another $383 billion went to food stamps and Medicaid.
According to the Center for American Progress, people in the LGBTQ+ community were found to be more likely to depend on these programs, specifically food stamps, than those who did not identify as LGBTQ+.
Though many believe that the questions on the Census should be more inclusive to the lives of LGBTQ+ people and the advocacy for these issues is still going strong, filling out the Census information will contribute a little more money to the government programs that will be helping the community for the next decade.
“Raise your right hand.” Judge Marilyn Milian bangs the gavel on the bench of the multiple Emmy award-winning The People’s Court. When asked how long she will continue to preside over The People’s Court, Milian responds, laughing, “when they pry my cold white knuckles off the gavel.” Milian continues to resolve complex cases with compassion while offering sound legal knowledge to all of the litigants that appear before her. Milian’s advice to litigants: “Social media is a valuable courtroom tool. Posts, tweets and photos can be used as evidence to prove your case, so don’t get rid of them! And remember, say it, forget it, write it, regret it!”
Judge Milian is honored to be the first Latina Judge to host a nationally syndicated television court show. In the courtroom, Milian often uses wisdom inspired by her Cuban mother and grandmother when addressing litigants. Milian proudly admits she gets her feistiness from her mother and her drive from her father.
Originally from Queens, NY, Milian moved to Miami with her family when she was eight years old. Milian received her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade average. She then attended Georgetown Law School, where she earned her law degree and graduated cum laude at age 23.
Milian spent a year working at Harvard Law School, where she served as director of training for the Guatemala Project. She was responsible for training the Guatemalan trial judiciary, defense and prosecution bar in investigatory and trial techniques.
Judge Milian is well known for her dedication to the Hispanic community and a strong voice against domestic violence.
HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM) caught up with Judge Milian about her career.
HNM: What has your experience been like on The People’s Court?
Judge Milian: Incredible! What can be better than presiding over wild cases hand selected throughout the country by expert hand-selectors (our producers)? Twenty years later, I still get excited when I read the first sentence in the first complaint in a stack of complaints when I am preparing! And the people I work with are fabulous—they have become friends.
What has been your most memorable experience on the show?
Three months after I started back in 2001, I found out I was pregnant with my third daughter. Television has a rhythm—you tape during the year, and you are “dark” or on hiatus during the
summer. My family planning had no such rhythm! So almost right out of the box, everyone had to work together and change their summer plans, and work through the summer so I could have those two months off with the baby when she came. As it turns out, it was only a month and a half, because my baby also didn’t respect television’s rhythm—and she accompanied me during the following four months to work in New York City, since I was her food source! My producer surprised me by turning my bailiff’s dressing room into a temporary nursery. Not only did Douglas not mind; he never moved back. That’s what I mean when I say it’s a fabulous environment.
What do you love most about your job?
I love being able to bring justice to people who desperately seek it. These problems may be small claims, but to our litigants, it’s probably the one time in their lives they will seek the intervention of the courts. I feel the weight of that every day, that their entire sense of justice will depend on how I treat and teach them—win or lose.
What inspired you to pursue law?
The same thing that is inspiring my daughters. I have three girls—the first is attending Georgetown Law School, the second was admitted for next year, and the third? Well that one is still in formation; she is a senior in high school, and the world is her oyster. What inspires us? The Cuban women in this family NEVER met an argument they didn’t love, or an injustice that didn’t need their personal attention!
What advice would you give others who want to pursue a career in law?
A career in the Law is one of the most fulfilling professions anyone can pursue. All around us in our daily lives, we see injustices committed against others. My legal degree affords me an opportunity to right the wrongs I see, not only in the courtroom but also in business, and even in our community. A legal degree teaches you to think analytically, strive toward compromise and accurately assess the legal ramifications of decisions to choose the best path.
In Early May, the Village of Gambier, in Knox County, Ohio, made history when they passed their county’s first ever LGBTQ anti-discrimination legislation. The village’s council met the night of May 4 via a Zoom Call and passed the law unanimously.
The legislation was passed specifically with the LGBTQ+ community in mind, including people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities to be included in protections from workplace, housing, and public commodity discrimination. The law will be put into effect immediately, with the hopes of not only better protecting people in the LGBTQ+ community in the Village of Gambier but to also encourage the passing of the Ohio Fairness Act.
The Ohio Fairness Act is essentially a much wider spread version of what Gambier passed earlier this month. The Act is set to include the LGBTQ+ community in discrimination protection in the same areas. Though the Ohio Fairness Act has been widely supported by many local fronts, it has yet to pass through the House and the Senate.
In an effort to further push the bill into becoming a law, Gambier’s mayor, Leeman Kessler stated that he wished to join arms with other local communities working to protect LGBTQ+ communities. He believes that as more and more businesses stand together in protecting the LGBTQ+ community, the more it will encourage others to do the same, including those passing the Ohio Fairness Act.
“It puts these protections in place explicitly,” Kessler stated of the new local law, “so folks aren’t left in a legal gray area.”
This year, President Donald Trump nominated Jovita Carranza to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), taking over for Linda McMahon as the Administrator.
This would make her the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in Trump’s cabinet, according to the Senate.
Carranza has been the Treasurer of the United States since 2017, serving as a principal adviser to Secretary Mnuchin. Her focus was to increase participation in our vibrant economy by fostering financial capability and sustainability.
Treasurer Carranza is a Chicago native and founder of the supply-chain management company JCR Group. She previously served as the Deputy Administrator for the SBA under President George W. Bush, where she received a bi-partisan, unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
At SBA, she managed more than 80 field offices across the country and a portfolio of direct and guaranteed business loans, venture capital investments, and disaster loans worth almost $80 billion.
Prior to her SBA appointment, Carranza had a distinguished 20+ year career at United Parcel Service, where she was the highest-ranking Latina in the history of the company. She started as a part-time, night-shift box handler and worked her way up to President of Latin America and Caribbean operations. As Vice President of Air Operations at its facility in Louisville, Kentucky, she led the cutting-edge automated package processing operation.