As President of the Boston Bar Association (BBA), I am asking the 13,000 legal professionals that comprise our membership to stand with us in the service of our communities and one another, to ensure that individual and due process rights remain valued and protected as bedrock principles in the implementation of our laws. And in standing with the BBA, an organization that traces its roots to John Adams, one of our country’s founding fathers and architects of the rule of law, I am proud to state the BBA’s unequivocal opposition to any effort to create a separate and more onerous admission standard for immigrants based solely on their country of origin.
The Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which specifically targets inhabitants of seven different countries for disparate treatment, runs afoul of not only federal law (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(13)(C)) but also both the Due Process Clause, which was originally written into our Bill of Rights, and the Equal Protection Clause, which was granted under the 14th Amendment. The people affected by this unconstitutional Executive Order are members of our own communities – people who are students, professors, scientists, refugees, and permanent residents – neighbors who obtained and hold valid green cards to live and work in our country. As lawyers, we are called to speak out against this action, and to, once again, stand in defense of the Constitution, its sacred promises, and the rule of law that it established—all of which apply to citizens and non-citizens alike.
The BBA has a long history of strong opposition to proposals which would use national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other integral individual traits as the basis for discrimination in any form. This practice speaks to the heart of who we are as an organization of lawyers – to preserve access to justice for all of us – not just a few of us. Federal immigration policy should be no exception, especially given the extensive background and security checks already in place for all immigrants. The BBA has spoken out against such practices in the past—as recently as one year ago, when we expressed our opposition to proposed federal legislation to discriminate against Iraqi and Syrian refugees —and we will continue to do so now and in the future, with your voices and your help behind us.
The BBA is currently mobilizing its membership to both aid those immediately affected by this Executive Order, and to identify resources that can be made available to those needing legal advice or assistance.
Through all of our efforts, know that the BBA will continue to do everything we can to support the rule of law, as well as the core values of access to justice and diversity and inclusion, which help keep the fundamental promise that all of us will enjoy due process and equal protection under the law. As lawyers, now is the time for all of us at the BBA to show, through our actions and our words, that we can continue to advance respectful, innovative, and common-ground solutions to these big challenges. Today, and every day, we must show Boston, the country, and the world how important the role of being a lawyer is in our society.