September 19, 2018
The Boston Bar Association (BBA) has established a set of four principles that define its core values on immigration policy. To express its respect for and solidarity with immigrant communities in Massachusetts and to guide its future public policy work, the BBA has adopted the following principles, which have also been translated in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Brazilian Portuguese, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese. In addition to the principles themselves, the translated flyers contain a list of resources available to those who are facing legal issues related to immigration.
Principle 1: Immigration is a defining feature of the American experience. Immigrants play a critical role in the civic, economic, and cultural life of our city, state, and country.
Boston is largely a city of immigrants, no less now than in the past. Our history, culture, economy, and traditions have been shaped by immigration, and the unique and valuable contributions of immigrants continue to strengthen our city’s civic, economic, and cultural life.
Principle 2: No person’s rights or human dignity should be devalued on the basis of immigration or citizenship status.
All human beings are the bearers of fundamental rights and freedoms that are embodied in the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 to establish a common standard of fundamental human rights that should be protected for all peoples and nations). National governments must respect human rights when people enter their countries, and judicial systems must uphold these rights. The BBA affirms that all human beings have these fundamental rights, regardless of how they entered the United States.
Principle 3: The constitutional right to due process and equal protection, guaranteed to every person regardless of immigration or citizenship status, must be protected and enforced.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that all people in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, are guaranteed protections under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment (right to due process of law) and Fourteenth Amendment (right to due process and equal protection under the law). The BBA insists that these protections must be fully upheld and enforced.
Principle 4: Every person should have the full and meaningful ability to exercise their rights and to access justice through the legal system regardless of immigration or citizenship status, level of income, or economic circumstance.
The BBA asserts that immigrants, like all other residents of the Commonwealth, must be free to access courthouses, law enforcement agencies, and other governmental agencies without fear that doing so will lead to immigration detention or deportation. The BBA also believes that immigrants in removal proceedings should be provided with a lawyer to ensure they are able to exercise their rights and legal options to the full extent possible. Finally, the BBA believes that immigrants must have access to a fair legal process with independent judges when seeking immigration relief.
Need a Lawyer? For 60+ years the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service has connected people of all income levels with legal help, whether to our member attorneys or to partner organizations offering free legal services. We are happy to talk with you and connect you to the appropriate legal resource.
For phone referrals call: (617) 742-0625, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. For online referrals, go to: www.bostonbarlawyer.org and click “Get Started.”