Luis Roberto Vera Jr., Latino civil rights leader and attorney, dies at 65

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Civil rights leader and attorney Luis Roberto Vera Jr. died Sunday after a long illness.

He was 65.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Hispanic civil rights organization, which was founded in 1929, announced his death. Vera was its national general counsel and worked with it for three decades.

Vera died in San Antonio, the city of his birth, surrounded by his family, according to LULAC.

“Ironically, Luis lives on through the recent lawsuits he helped file in federal court that will forever carry the imprint of his love for justice and the voice that shall never be silenced,” LULAC National CEO Sindy Benavides said in a statement.

Vera’s landmark cases included a 2019 lawsuit to stop the Texas secretary of state from requiring nearly 100,000 voters to prove their citizenship or risk being removed from the voter rolls, a tactic that disproportionately impacts the Latino community.

Another major case was a 2017 attempt to uphold the “sanctuary” status of border town El Cenizo and halt a measure that allowed law enforcement to question and detain undocumented residents.

That same year, Vera was awarded Mexico’s Ohtli Award, one of the highest federal recognitions that is given to those whose work empowers and supports Mexicans and Latinos.

“He was a fierce fighter for what is right and persisted even when the odds were against LULAC, as has been the case often given today’s volatile politics,” Elsie Valdes-Ramos, LULAC national board member and vice president for women, said in a statement.

“I knew we had in Luis, a tireless defender and a man who any enticement could never sway, nor was he seeking fame for himself,” she said.

“Latinos in Texas and indeed, our entire nation and Puerto Rico, have lost a selfless and brilliant legal fighter, cut from the same civil rights cloth as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta,” Rodolfo Rosales Jr., LULAC’s Texas state director, said in a statement.

Despite his illness, Vera was actively working as the organization’s counsel until very recently, according to the LULAC statement.

“He was fearless and argued with the fire and brimstone passion of a legal preacher,” Rosales said.

Vera earned both an undergraduate and a graduate degree from St. Mary’s University and earned his law degree from Western New England University School of Law, according to San Antonio Report.

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