May 05, 2017

Caseworkers, including legal aid workers, should enjoy First Amendment protection in making outreach visits to migrant workers living on their employers’ land, a Maryland federal judge has ruled, saying caseworkers hit with now-rescinded trespassing notices may keep pursuing most of their claims.

U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm said in the opinion that the fact that the Montgomery County Police Department rescinded trespassing notices against two Maryland Legal Aid staffers does not moot the case against the orchard they visited and the police department that blocked them from returning.

“Although the no-trespass order was rescinded by police in immediate response to the lawsuit, the parties remain at odds about the scope of First Amendment rights available to the workers and advocates,” according to a statement from the nonprofit law firm.

Shawn Boehringer, chief counsel with Maryland Legal Aid, said the ruling is important for both caseworkers and immigrants.

“The court’s ruling recognizes that service providers — health care, social or legal aid workers — have a First Amendment right to enter onto farms to provide information to workers about their legal rights and responsibilities and other crucial social services,” he said in a statement.

The plaintiffs are represented by Kit A. Pierson and Robert W. Cobbs of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Deborah Jeon, David Rocah and Sonia Kumar of the ACLU.

The full article can be viewed here.