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ABA House adopts six new immigration policies, dozens of others

The American Bar Association House of Delegates, which determines association-wide policy, approved six new immigration policy positions on Aug. 13, that seek to improve  fairness and consistency to U.S. immigration law and procedures. The new policies were among several dozen measures approved by the 594-member House at its two-day meeting last week during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The ABA House of Delegates at the 2019 Annual Meeting

The ABA House of Delegates at the 2019 Annual Meeting

The policy changes stem from a comprehensive review of the nation’s immigration adjudication system released earlier this year by the ABA Commission on Immigration.

The specific immigration policies adopted call for improved court procedures and judicial review. They also urge a systemic restructuring of the immigration adjudication system to make the process more like Article I courts under the U.S. Constitution, rather than the current system that falls under the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorney general.

Separately, three resolutions were designed to foster greater access to justice for those underserved by the legal profession. The measures encourage online providers of legal documents to adopt ABA best practices, call for extending broadband access to rural parts of the U.S. and seek a review of cellphone policies in courthouses to balance security risks with meaningful access to the judicial system.

In the criminal justice arena, the House urged Congress to enact legislation to resolve the conflict between some state and federal laws dealing with marijuana regulation and supported policies to limit the possession of firearms in courthouses and judicial systems to only those persons necessary to ensure security. A resolution that would have revised the definition of consent in sexual assault cases was postponed for further study.

Two new policies are aimed at improving fairness in compensation. One urges employers of lawyers to close the compensation gap between similarly situated male and female lawyers. Another seeks legislation that would provide stronger remedies and protections against pay discrimination based on race, sex, gender identity and for persons with disabilities.

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