Posted August 7, 2018, 2:04 pm CDT
The ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on Congress and the executive branch to end the separation of immigrant families and protect their legal claims.
The resolution was moved in the House on behalf of the Minnesota State Bar by Cara Lee Neville, a past secretary of the ABA. She outlined what the resolution urges the government to do: stop separating families unless the children are in danger; if it must separate families, do it with defined criteria and due process; and reunite families already separated.
“So I could make it even shorter: Stop it. Fix it. And do not do it again,” said Neville, founder of Benchmark National ADR and a senior judge from Hennepin County, Minnesota. “Most of us are not immigration lawyers here, but we know when something isn’t right.”
The resolution attracted no opposition from the House, but numerous speakers in support. Many cited their own families’ experiences with immigration and had strong criticism for the federal government’s behavior. One highlight was a speech by former ABA President Michael Greco of Massachusetts, who recalled coming through Ellis Island from Italy with his family in 1950, when he was 7 years old.
He had told some of that story when he was sworn in as ABA president in 2006—but he didn’t mention that his family had been held up on the island for four days under the McCarran Internal Security Act. That federal law, enacted over a veto from President Harry S. Truman, came out of the Red Scare and enabled the government to detain people suspected of “subversive activities.”
“It has occurred to me in the last few months, especially in the last few weeks, that I might not have been here 13 years ago, taking the oath as president of the ABA,” said Greco, a retired partner from K&L Gates. “We were fortunate. What is happening in this country right now, it is an abomination.”
Last year, Greco said, his son found pictures on the internet of their family’s time at Ellis Island that were taken by a Time magazine photographer reporting on the McCarran Act. Looking at those photos, he said, he sees fear in his father’s face.
“I didn’t need to stand up because we are going to pass this resolution, and we are going to pass this resolution unanimously,” Greco said. “All of us collectively have to continue to fight and remind the American leadership that the values of this country cannot be trampled upon.”
Chair Deborah Enix-Ross resisted calls for a formal count. And Greco’s prediction appeared to be correct: Resolution 10C passed without audible opposition.
Follow along with our full coverage of the 2018 ABA Annual Meeting.