MBA issues historic immigration resolution

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017
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Photo Credit: Jason Scally
MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano introduces the immigration resolution at the HOD meeting on Jan. 26.

The Massachusetts Bar Association confirmed its unequivocal support for the protection of rights for documented and undocumented immigrants in a resolution adopted Jan. 26. The MBA's governing body, the House of Delegates, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, which takes a firm stand in support of due process and legal representation for immigrants in deportation and detention proceedings. The resolution also reaffirms the MBA's support for sanctuary city protections afforded by municipalities in Massachusetts.

As the largest voluntary statewide bar association in Massachusetts, the MBA is a nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization that serves the legal profession throughout the commonwealth. The MBA believes that open access to the courts remains available to "all subjects of the Commonwealth," as stated by Article 11 under the Massachusetts Constitution's Bill of Rights.

This resolution furthers the MBA's longstanding commitment to ensure equal justice for all in light of potential changes to federal immigration policies. It also enables the MBA to work with members of the legal community and government officials on efforts that increase access to justice and protect immigrants and other vulnerable individuals in our communities.

"The MBA is looked to for leadership at a time when major steps are being taken by the federal government to detain or deport many people in this commonwealth and nationally, which will impact their due process rights and need for legal representation," said Massachusetts Bar Association President Jeffrey N. Catalano. "We are proud to take on this important responsibility."

Affinity bar stand with the MBA

The MBA resolution received praised from members of the legal community around the commonwealth. Several affinity bar association leaders in attendance at the January HOD meeting also expressed their strong support for the MBA resolution.

Eugene H. Ho, president of the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts (AALAM), said: "AALAM is proud to stand with the MBA and the other affinity bars on this important resolution. As a voice for our members, many of whom are first and second generation immigrants, and in light of President Trump's recent executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, it is more important now than ever that we reaffirm our commitment to vigorously defend the rule of law and fundamental constitutional protections related to the detention and deportation of residents of Massachusetts, and endorse actions by the federal government that ensure equal justice and due process in enforcement of any immigration policies and legislation. We thank the MBA for its leadership in passing this resolution, and we are committed to working with the MBA and the other affinity bars to ensure that all immigrants have access to justice."

Migdalia Iris Nalls, the president of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys (MAHA), said: "The Immigration Resolution adopted by the MBA speaks volumes at a critical time in history, where we are witnessing our Constitutional Due process rights and Human rights under attack by Federal Executive orders. Within MAHA, we see first-hand the terrible consequences of the violations of these rights. Immigrants are already halted from traveling to see their families abroad and living in fear of work availability and family separation; causing stress and trauma to their families and children. This is morally unacceptable in our society and we deeply thank the MBA for taking action to support a state and country made of immigrants."

Saraa Basaria, president of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston, said: "The South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston (SABA GB), comprised of many first-generation Americans, strongly supports the MBA Resolution regarding prohibition of discriminatory immigration enforcement policies and is committed to championing lawful immigration policies that align with and respect the principles upon which this nation was founded."