Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Latino Immigrant Heads the ABA and creates Commission to study Latino legal issues

Stephen N. Zack, a Miami, FL lawyer who emigrated from Cuba in 1961 when he was 14 years old is now the President of the 400,000-member American Bar Association ("ABA"). The ABA is the world's largest voluntary bar association and a leading national legal professional organization.

After receiving the gavel from outgoing ABA President Carolyn Lamm at the ABA convention in San Francisco earlier this week, Mr. Zack shared his vision: “Today, I would like to talk to you about four responsibilities: preservation of the justice system, civic education, protecting human rights, and preparing for disaster.” President Zack further outlined his view that “[e]very day, our nation becomes more divided with respect to civil rights,” and introduced his Committee on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. President Zack noted that , “We are a nation of immigrants. Our basic freedoms are based on the principle that the minority is protected from the tyranny of the majority.”

Miami lawyer César L. Alvarez, also a Cuban-American, will chair the Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities commission, which will hold public hearings in major U.S. cities with large Latino populations. The commission will analyze whether the legal system is addressing the needs of Latinos.

President Zack has stated that "[w]e need to find out the facts and we need to see how the system is working or not working to make sure that Hispanics are fully integrated and treated equally within our justice system.''

Once the commission conducts the hearings and analyzes its findings, these may result in a report akin into the one issued this past spring by the ABA's Commission on Immigration. The ABA supports the creation of a new immigration court system, and many other measures designed to improve consistency, fairness and efficiency in immigration law proceedings.

These are welcome developments and great news for the Latino community and the legal community as well.

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