Coronavirus

Immigration lawyers petition Baker for earlier vaccine access

Nearly two dozen law organizations wrote a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office arguing they should be included in the second phase of the vaccine distribution plan.

BOSTON (AP) — Immigration lawyers in Massachusetts want to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association’s New England chapter, the Boston Bar Association and more than 20 other law organizations wrote a letter to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s office earlier this month arguing they should be included in the second phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan as defense attorneys.

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Phase 2 covers judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks and other court officers not already qualified for the vaccine as first responders.

The organizations say immigration attorneys face a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 because the Boston immigration court – and others like it across the country – has been open and operating at “near-full capacity” for much of the pandemic.

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Massachusetts’ state-run court system, in contrast, has curtailed in-person court matters and is conducting much of its business by telephone or video conference, they said.

The federal immigration court, located in the JFK Federal Building, serves Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire with many travelling across state lines to attend hearings, even during the pandemic, the organizations said.

Baker’s office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

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