HNBA Presents Interests of Over 100,000 Legal Professionals in Meetings with White House, Department of Justice and Across Capitol Hill

Contact: Emily Bengtson
Phone: (202) 223-4777

May 11, 2012

2012 Advocacy Summit and Legislative Day Focused On Legal Services Funding, VAWA, DREAM Act and Judicial Nominations


WASHINGTON D.C. – This week, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) convened the 2012 Advocacy Summit and Legislative Day, an annual event to further the HNBA legislative agenda before Congress and executive branch officials through direct grassroots advocacy by its members. In this 40th anniversary year, members of the HNBA from across the country traveled to the nation’s capital to participate in a full day of advocacy, promoting pressing legislative issues affecting the Hispanic legal community.

At the center of the HNBA’s legislative and policy priorities are: preserving access to legal services for low-income individuals; addressing judicial emergencies and promoting diversity on the federal bench; supporting DREAM Act legislation that includes a path to U.S. citizenship and access to financial aid; encouraging a Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill that continues to protect the most vulnerable groups; and the creation of a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino.

“The Advocacy Summit is a unique opportunity for the HNBA to act as powerful advocates, and demonstrates the leadership and service that our members carry out on both local and national levels,” said Benny Agosto, Jr., HNBA National President. “This year the HNBA advocated for some of the most pressing policy issues of our day, from the urgent need for a qualified and diverse judiciary to the necessity of comprehensive federal immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the millions of promising young people who want to take part in and contribute to our society. We met with our nation’s leaders and outlined ways to work together in support of our shared goals.”

Participants had the opportunity to meet directly with numerous members of Congress and/or their staff, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy; Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Al Franken; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; and Senator Bob Menendez.

“HNBA is proud to represent the Latino legal community and the constituents we serve in legal transactions, the courts and administrative proceedings.  Our success on Capitol Hill, with the Attorney General and with the White House was due to the commitment and participation of HNBA members from across the United States and enhanced by the partnership with the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia” said Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Co-Chair of the Summit and President-Elect of HBA-DC. The Hon. Celeste I. Villarreal, Vice President-External Affairs, HNBA and Associate Judge, Austin, Texas added that “The combined efforts of so many ensured that the Latino voice resonated loud and clear at our Nation’s Capital.”

The Advocacy Summit began with an Opening Reception on Tuesday, May 8th at the law firm of Jones Day, where U.S. Representative for the 18th District of Texas Sheila Jackson Lee offered keynote remarks. On Wednesday, May 9th the HNBA members heard from U.S. Representative for the 21st District of Florida Mario Diaz-Balart during the Advocacy Summit Breakfast Panel. On Wednesday evening, the HNBA held the 2012 Capital Awards Dinner, where the HNBA recognized key legislative initiatives and Members of Congress who redefine the meaning of excellence through their leadership and commitment to their communities.

This year the HNBA presented the Capital Award to U.S. Representative for the 20th District of Texas Charlie Gonzalez. Finally, on Thursday, participants attended a White House briefing hosted by senior administration officials. The complete Advocacy Summit agenda is available on