March 2017: From Michael’s Desk

Photo by Doug Yarrow. Michael explains pending Wage Theft legislation in our 2015 advocacy day.

As an attorney who has been representing immigrant workers for many decades, I am deeply distressed about recent news reports that ICE agents are stalking immigrants in and around our courts. These reports have sent a palpable chill through Oregon’s immigrant communities.  This news should be equally chilling to lawyers, court workers, and anyone else who cares about due process and the rule of law.

To begin with, if a person is summoned to appear in court, but his or her compliance will result in deportation, it is predictable that many will not comply. This will inevitably lead to the breakdown of orderly criminal justice, probation, juvenile and domestic relations systems.

But even more importantly, our sacred commitment to due process of law is severely compromised if disputes cannot be fairly adjudicated because some of the parties do not feel safe in our courtrooms.  As a worker advocate, I fear that marginalized workers, who already have so much to fear in making a complaint that their rights are being violated, may now be too intimidated to come forward to assert claims that could require them to appear in person in a court of law.  And will the witnesses they need to support those claims respond to a subpoena to court? Will overzealous opponents attempt to exploit these fears? If the most vulnerable cannot defend their rights as workers, all will suffer.

NWJP is committed to finding ways to keep our justice system open to even the most vulnerable litigants.  We call on allies to join us.

The American system of jurisprudence is a core part of who we are as a society. That it may not be safe to engage in that process attacks this very foundation.  It also violates the international law of nations.  This road leads to chaos and lawlessness.

We’ve got to push back, or we will lose who we are.

 

 

Michael Dale
Founder, Executive Director, and Senior Attorney, NWJP