Letter to The Honorable Merrick B. Garland - LCLAA


The Honorable Merrick B Garland
Attorney General Nominee
United States Department of Justice
Re: United States V. Vaello-Madero
Case # 20-303

Dear Judge Garland:

The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, since its creation in 1972, has been a grassroots organization directed by Latino labor leaders who use unionization as a vehicle to secure rights and job protections. LCLAA has been committed to the growth and progress of the labor movement and the Latino community. Through the relentless work of LCLAA’s chapters and leaders, this organization has played a significant role in the election of Latinos at all levels of government.

As a U.S  territory of the United States, Puerto Rico cannot benefit from many of the social safety net programs afforded to all states. This can be seen in The United States vs. Vaello-Madero, Case Number 20-303, pending before the United States Supreme Court. If adjudicated favorably, this case can provide Puerto Rico citizens with Supplemental Social Security benefits that would allow for increased monthly compensation based on their financial needs, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement urges you to review this case which we see as a pivotal and decisive break from the policies of the previous administrations that sought to vacate the lower court’s decision.

While it is true that Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income, they do pay “FICA Taxes” at the same rate that applies to the states. These funds are intended to fund the Social Security Administration and, as such, should be part of the benefits afforded to the residents of the island. Due to the historically low wages on the island, many of the residents have struggled to maintain a basic level of income in their twilight years. This needs to be addressed and ultimately rectified.

LCLAA encourages you to consider the merits of the case on behalf of the countless Island residents who have paid their Fica Taxes and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It is also essential to underscore that many of these senior citizens are also war veterans who did not skip a beat when faced with the decision to fight in defense of this nation.

We ask that you stop pursuing the case and uphold the lower court’s decision; by doing so, you correct an unjust to Puerto Rico residents. We ask that you consider allowing the lower court decision to stand, which in our opinion, is the right course of action. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Jose Vargas,
LCLAA Executive Director