“Our Constitution demands, and our laws confirm, that we afford due process rights to immigrants and asylum-seekers who are in or are seeking entry into the United States,” she continued.
Martinez reaffirmed the ABA’s commitment to its work with immigrants, including the Commission on Immigration’s ProBAR in Texas, where she spent a week volunteering last year with Carlson and will return in the coming weeks to do pro bono service with incoming President-elect Trish Refo.
With the 2020 U.S. election on the horizon, voting rights was also top of mind for the new association president. Martinez noted the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which “launched the largest expansion of democracy in our country’s history” by guaranteeing women the right to vote. Martinez added, “This historic milestone offers unparalleled opportunities throughout the year for our members to engage in civics education, explore the issues of voting rights and equal rights today and encourage voting in elections at all levels.”
Also among her civics education plans is a new effort that will take advantage of the power of technology. “This fall, we will launch an engaging social media campaign on the rule of law in our democracy,” Martinez said. “Our campaign will leverage the communication power of groups throughout the ABA and beyond, including the bar associations represented in this House, to reach people we have not typically reached in the past.”
Enhancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession will remain a priority for the association. Martinez called for lawyers to continue their quest to broaden and diversify. “This past spring, when the presidents-elect of the national bars of color met at the ABA as they do annually, for the first time ever, leaders of the Disability Rights Bar Association and the National LGBT Bar Association were both at the table, and we all felt the incredible difference their presence made. I urge you to similarly invite them to your table,” she said.
In addition, the ABA will continue efforts to close the justice gap, Martinez said, including its lobbying before Congress on behalf of the Legal Services Corporation.
The new president also expressed an openness to new ideas and fresh approaches to resolving problems. “We will not say no to innovations simply because that is not the way we, the lawyers and the courts, have always done it,” she said. “At each and every turn we will have the public we serve at the forefront of our minds.”
Martinez concluded by saying, “Our finest moments and most enduring contributions have been when we have used our voice and resources for causes about which we can act with authority, and which we can influence with impact. As lawyers, we know equality. We know liberty. And we know justice.”
Outgoing president reviews achievements
Earlier in the day, Bob Carlson borrowed a theme from Fred Rogers, the host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, to frame his year as president of the American Bar Association.
The outgoing leader recounted that when Rogers was a boy and saw scary things on television, his mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”