MLA Welcomes Back Experienced Attorney
Attorney Mariza Gamez-Garcia has rejoined Migrant Legal Aid's staff. Mariza was a staff attorney for our program from 2002 - 2013, before leaving for private practice in 2013. She comes from a migrant farmworker family. Mariza has 14 years of experience in AWPA, FLSA, H-2A, Immigration (U-Visa, VAWA) cases. She has successfully litigated many cases, i.e.: (Bautista, et al. v. Twin Lake Farms, et al. (class action); Manzano, et al. v. Bartley (AWPA, FLSA, Breach of Contract); Cabrera v. Ekema (FLSA, BP Act, Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment and Conversion).
Farmworkers Receive Emotional Distress Damages for Assault by Firearm
Migrant Legal Aid has settled a case filed in federal court against a grower who admitted to pointing a loaded .40 caliber Beretta in the face of four workers. MLA sought damages for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection act. The grower claimed self-defense, based on one of the workers having a "kitchen broom" in his hand that made him have "some fear." Just prior to the assault, the grower had called his bi-lingual crew leader to translate for him and handed the workers his phone.
MLA Testifies Against Proposed Law
On Tuesday, March 1, 2016 Migrant Legal Aid testified at a committee hearing on Senate Bill 501. SB501 would allow foreign drivers to drive in Michigan if they had a foreign driver's license, passport, proof of legal status, and an English translation of all non-English documents. "It's the proof of status that's troubling," staff explained, "As we now expect police officers to be able to immediately assess the validity of over 75 different visas. Combine that with the different appeals and procedures inherent in immigrant and visitor processes, and now we're asking a police officer to have the ability to make those decisions instantly. This could easily become a mess for someone who is here legally but has unfamiliar paperwork." This bill was also opposed by groups such as Latino Leader for Enhancement of Advocacy and Development, and Action for Greater Lansing.
Victim-Witness Language Access - Update
Migrant Legal Aid continues to work with prosecutors and law enforcement to find ways to ensure that non-English speaking victims of crime have the same access to the justice system that English speaking victims do. MLA is grateful for the willingness of Chris Becker of the Kent County prosecutor's office and members of local law enforcement to address this issue head on.