By Claudia Elizabeth Castro
Claudia Elizabeth Castro is an associate at Odelson & Sterk Ltd. and president of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois.
The Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois celebrates Law Day 2017 with a deeper appreciation than ever for our roles as attorneys of Hispanic descent. For both our members and our community, the importance of the law profession has never been more essential and necessary. People become lawyers for different reasons, but it has become clear that attorneys today are still committed to the rule of law. HLAI has never been prouder of our chosen profession.
Immigration law has been at the forefront for membership and our country recently. HLAI was proud to step up with other attorneys to help out people who have been the subject of attacks from both the government and small groups of xenophobic Americans. However, regardless of the negative actions and opinions against certain groups of people, we are confident that the law will prevail and afford a just and fair process to everyone. HLAI stands ready to continue protecting the integrity of our courts and justice system.
Former President Obama stated in last year’s Law Day proclamation that “The court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona affirmed that equal justice under law is more than just words, but a cornerstone of our nation’s legal system — the idea that no matter who you are or where you come from, you will be treated equally and afforded due process.”
It is that basic principle that we must never forget and always work to defend.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, almost 150 years ago. Yet the rights of citizenship, due process and equal protection are still being challenged today. America is unique because we are so diverse and our nation will continue to grow and change with time. The existence of groups like HLAI are a testament to both that diversity and overall greatness of our country. We have come a long way since the 14th Amendment was ratified, but those fundamental rights enshrined in the 14th Amendment have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of civil rights in our county.
Looking ahead, HLAI will continue to answer the call for help on the issues affecting the communities we serve. We stand ready to partner with other bar associations and nonprofit organizations to design programs to educate people on their rights. We also plan to keep promoting the law profession to maximize the number of Hispanics applying to law schools and cultivating the academic and professional success of those students. On this Law Day 2017, HLAI and its members are proud to members of the legal community, and we stand ready to defend the Constitution that is its foundation.