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Objection to Boughton’s participation at immigration forum continues

Cross post from HatCityBLOG

The controversy surrounding Mark Boughton’s participation in a forum on immigration on the campus of the University of Connecticut continues.

In a rebuttal to CT Public Interest Law journal Editor-in-Chief Patrick Linsey’s response to the Latino Law Student Association’s objection to Boughton’s participation in the forum, Attorney Peter Goselin of the Connecticut Chapter of National Lawyers Guild wrote the following:

Dear Patrick,

I was forwarded a copy of the Public Interest Law Journal’s response to the Latino Law Student Association regarding the upcoming seminar on undocumented immigrants in the workplace. As an employment attorney who spends a lot of time working on wage theft and the super-exploitation of undocumented immigrants in the workplace, I feel compelled to respond.

With all respect due to you and the other students who have worked on convening this event, I share the disappointment and the disapproval of the students of UConn LLSA with the composition of the seminar. Nor am I persuaded by your response to LLSA’s concerns, though I have no doubt that your response is offered in good faith to address those concerns.

What concerns me most – first, about the presence of Mayor Boughton and the keynote speech by Attorney Vincent, and second, about your defense of the decision to invite them – is that it so totally misses the mark in terms of what this symposium is allegedly about. Mayor Boughton is well known for his opinions about undocumented immigrants and law enforcement. But there is no evidence that Boughton is qualified to say anything about undocumented immigrants in the workplace from the point of view of sociological inquiry, legal analysis, or policy prescription. Boughton does not provide “balance” to discussion of rights and redress for the undocumented worker. What he provides is a distraction and a false sense that unless nativists and racists are invited to participate in every discussion that touches on immigration, somehow the discussion is one-sided. Moreover, I have to point out that since Boughton is also a Republican Party candidate for Governor of Connecticut, the Public Interest Law Journal has violated any accepted norm of “balance” by inviting him without inviting his opponents.

Described as the principal legal advisor to ICE, Peter Vincent may have a lot to say about the administration’s view of immigration and immigration reform. But if the goal were to invite a speaker from the administration who is qualified to discuss undocumented immigrants in the American workforce, why an ICE attorney instead of someone from the Department of Labor? Under the leadership of Hilda Solis, the USDOL has been very active in collaborating with local community groups and elected officials to fight wage theft and unsafe working conditions, problems that plague undocumented workers. What can Attorney Vincent contribute to that discussion? What expertise in labor policy does he possess that merits making him the keynote speaker for a symposium with the workplace rights of undocumented immigrants as its central theme?

On the other hand, perhaps both Boughton and Attorney Vincent could contribute to a discussion of 287g programs: ICE-initiated programs in collaboration with local officials to effectively “deputize” local law enforcement to act as immigration agents in their communities. In such a discussion, perhaps some qualified speakers could ask them about the role that 287g agreements play in polarizing communities, in making victims of crime fear reporting to the police, and in giving local police further excuses to stop, harass, arrest and detain people for the crime of “breathing while brown.” And while we are at it, a “balanced” panel could include officials from the cities of New Haven and Hartford, who have repudiated 287g in favor of local policies that forbid police officers from acting as immigration enforcers. And it could include people from the community: community leaders and individuals who have experienced the impact that these competing policies have effected on immigrants in Connecticut.

What we have here is not balance but a terrible mismatch. Two speakers have been invited (and one a keynote at that) who have no expertise in the area that the symposium is supposed to take up. And though their views and their actions should be exposed to criticism and challenge . . . those views and actions touch most closely on matters that are not on the agenda of this symposium at all.

It is my understanding that the students of LLSA have asked you to revoke the invitations you have extended to Mayor Boughton and to Attorney Vincent. I join in and endorse that view.

Peter Goselin
National Lawyers Guild – Connecticut Chapter


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