The past 100+ hours have certainly been the most tumultuous we as immigration practitioners have seen in a long while. I could write another article or blog post about how many concerns we as lawyers have with the Executive Orders (EO) or how they were abruptly rolled out but that just keeps us stuck in the mud.
Rather, I was impressed by the response of immigration lawyers, corporations, schools, communities and the immigrants themselves. The call to action was swift and resistance was organized. Once it went public with protests, restraining orders and airport assistance, the press and politicians took notice. Communities came together to support the families of those affected and corporations and schools spoke out in support of their employees and their employees’ families who were directly impacted by long holds, refusals to board airplanes, and outright bullying to give up their green cards.
The point here is not to encourage one side over the other in this unfortunate set of circumstances, but rather to celebrate what has been shown as the true spirit of America. This is the America we all know and love. The freedom to protest peacefully, the ability to move a federal court in the middle of a weekend night and challenge a government action, the ability to speak out in support or against a government action without fear of repercussion, and the desire to confront that which we believe is unjust.
Since the EO rolled out on Friday, imposing exceptional vetting challenges to nationals of seven countries, we have seen some interesting developments. Large corporations we thought were overly cautious or even frightened to challenge the administration out of fear of economic reprisals are now banding together to support their immigrant colleagues and their ability to function in a global economy. Universities and schools are standing with their employees, students and communities. Immigration lawyers are physically standing in airports to insure that temporary restraining orders put in place by their hard work are being properly enforced. Government employees within the agencies tasked with enforcing the EO are voicing dissent despite knowing they could lose, and their colleagues have lost, their jobs for the same reason.
And AILA itself has stepped up in support – the outpouring of information, constantly updated, that I’ve seen on aila.org, through social media, and shared by AILA members in the news, has been key to continuing to fight back against this discriminatory policy. The effort to trample civil rights and our country’s principles cannot, has not, and will not be allowed to go unnoticed.
While we all wish this had never happened and we know that there is a long uncertain road ahead, thank you all for showing why America is and will always be that shining city on the hill.
Written by Matt Maiona, Member, AILA Media Advocacy Committee
#AILAStandsWithImmigrants social media campaign resources are available on the AILA website.