Los Abogados Legislation Committee: Shaping Policy

Los Abogados Legislation Committee
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Recognizing its professional leadership role in the Arizona community, Los Abogados is committed to advocating for public policy that positively impacts its members and the Latino community. As lawyers, we have a unique understanding of how law and policy are made and how they shape lives. And as members of the Latino community, we recognize our solemn responsibility to serve as a voice for those whose voices are not often heard among the halls of power.

For years, Los Abogados has closely monitored legislation of interest at the Arizona Capitol. And for years this meant pushing back against blatantly anti-Latino laws …

For years, Los Abogados has closely monitored legislation of interest at the Arizona Capitol. And for years this meant pushing back against blatantly anti-Latino laws, including the passage of SB 1070 and other laws that would have made it harder for members of our community to receive an education or obtain healthcare in Arizona. But it also meant advocating for legislation on which we could offer a unique perspective.

Jaburg Wilk

This included lobbying for a bill reigning in notarios, who operate as para-professional lawyers in Latin American countries but who are ill-equipped step into the shoes of lawyers in the United States. To Los Abogados, curbing the prevalence of notarios was a way to help protect our community. While we knew the challenges faced and the need for access to justice by members of the community, we also knew, as lawyers, of the dangers posed by untrained non-lawyers attempting to handle complex legal problems. Our committed advocacy led to the adoption of legislation that strengthened protections against this unique form of unauthorized practice of law.

Los Abogados also spearheaded the enactment of a law protecting victims of sex trafficking from exposure to prostitution charges— a concern raised by our members. The enacted law allows for vacating the criminal record of prostitution for victims of sex trafficking, allowing victims a path to lead a better life.

I assumed the role of chair of the Los Abogados Legislation Committee in 2019. Practicing primarily in the areas of government affairs, election law, and appellate advocacy at Ballard Spahr LLP, I have been well positioned to guide the organization’s public advocacy efforts. This includes helping guide public communications on policy matters, guiding the organization’s advocacy strategy, and identifying key allies and stakeholders with whom to partner on matters of joint significance.

For example, this legislative session, Los Abogados partnered with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in opposing a bill that would have significantly limited who could file for dependency petitions in Arizona juvenile courts. The proposed change would have severely limited the ability to petition for dependency for unaccompanied minors—many of whom Los Abogados members represent as part of their pro bono work—and thereby cut off important avenues for immigration relief. Following the joint advocacy by the Florence Project and Los Abogados, the bill failed.

Los Abogados takes a multifaceted approach to influencing policy, focusing not just on the regulation of lawyers but also on the diversification of the profession and the advancement of civil rights.

Los Abogados takes a multifaceted approach to influencing policy, focusing not just on the regulation of lawyers but also on the diversification of the profession and the advancement of civil rights. To that end, Los Abogados has and will continue to advocate for educational equity (including, in particular, for undocumented students), the advancement of minority voting rights, and criminal justice reform. This takes the form not just of lobbying legislators, but also working to influence executive agencies and commissions and advocating before the courts as amici curiae and as proponents of court rules that promote diversity and inclusiveness.

Our voice is an important one, and we seek to ensure it is heard in support of our members and our community. The legislation committee furthers that goal by identifying and influencing key decision makers across government. Daniel Arellano

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