MALDEF FIGHTS FOR INCLUSION OF ALL THE STATE’S VETERANS UNDER TEXAS HAZLEWOOD ACT
Additional veterans and universities added to lawsuit challenging citizenship requirement for state education program
NOVEMBER 12, 2007 – MALDEF salutes all veterans for their service in preserving the nation’s freedoms. Founded in 1968 by Latino attorneys who themselves were World War II veterans, MALDEF’s mission today for equal treatment includes protecting the rights of returning Latino veterans of the armed forces. Last month, MALDEF expanded its lawsuit challenging the exclusion of certain military veterans from the Texas Hazlewood Act, which waives tuition and fees at Texas public colleges and universities. MALDEF represents veterans who have been denied the waiver and attended the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston, North Harris College, as well as veterans seeking to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio and West Texas A&M University.
“There is no better way to honor the sacrifices of Hispanic veterans and their families than by continuing to break down legal barriers at home and advancing equality,” stated MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña. “More than a shocking violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the denial of benefits to these veterans denigrates basic American principles. The State of Texas should not have to be forced into a court of law to do the right thing for these veterans and all Americans,” Trasviña added.
In the expanded lawsuit, MALDEF represents six veterans and the American GI Forum of Texas. Although each plaintiff honorably completed his military service and is otherwise qualified, the State and its institutions have denied the veterans tuition waivers solely because they were not U.S. citizens when they first entered the service-even those veterans who have since become U.S. citizens.
“Many legal permanent residents serve honorably in the armed forces. These soldiers risk their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States and they deserve an equal opportunity when they return home,” stated Nina Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF. “The State’s policy forces public universities across the state to exclude returning soldiers because of their citizenship status.”
Founded in 1968, MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships.
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