New video from ABA president calls for lawyers to help separated immigrant families

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ABA President Hilarie Bass has posted a short video asking America’s lawyers to help reunite immigrant families at the border.

In the video, Bass talks about what she saw during her late June trip to south Texas, where she met with immigrant mothers detained at the Port Isabel Detention Center near Harlingen. Some of those women hadn’t seen their children in six weeks, Bass said; some had talked to their children on the phone, but knew the children were far away.

But what really disturbed Bass, she said, was that all of them would give up their asylum claims and return to the violence they’re fleeing if it meant their children would be returned.

“That caused me great consternation, because these people are giving up their legal rights just to have the right to get their children back,” Bass says in the video. “I think as lawyers, we have to do everything possible to assist these victims of this policy.”

Bass then directed lawyers to http://ambar.org/immigrationjustice, a new ABA web page that aggregates opportunities for interested lawyers to volunteer, advocate or donate to help separated and detained families. On it, the ABA directs lawyers to a tool to help them find their elected representatives, urging lawyers to advocate for reunification of immigrant families. The website collects links to opportunities for lawyers, law students and nonlawyers interested in volunteering to help. And it offers links to donate to the ABA’s efforts on behalf of immigrants, via the ABA Fund for Justice and Education.

Those interested in learning more are also offered a link to a collection of ABA activities on family separation created by the association’s government affairs office.

“I told these women, as they were sobbing in my company, that the lawyers of America would not rest until every one of them was reunited with their children,” Bass says in the video.

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