Are you overwhelmed yet? I have to be honest, there are moments when I want to throw up my hands and somehow pause it all: the non-stop announcements from the Trump administration, calls and conversations with anxious immigrants and advocates, and our work coordinating pro bono services for vulnerable communities. Take a moment or a breath because it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders as immigration attorneys. Our days are jam-packed and our personal lives often take the back-burner, leading us to suffer mentally and emotionally from the stress.
Where’s that good news this blog post title promises? It’s this: this administration’s actions have led so many people to ask how they can get involved. What can they take on? How can they help? As an immigration attorney, it’s important to know that we don’t have to go it alone in providing vital immigration services to people struggling to navigate this system. There are a number of allies and community partners who are willing and eager to help vulnerable communities alongside us. These groups include non-profit and community-based organizations, faith leaders and organizations, community centers, local governments and more. With so many people raising their hands, why don’t we harness that power and solidarity?
We have and we are (but yes, we can do better): AILA’s Citizenship Day 2017 proved to be an example of the power of these strong partnerships. The AILA DC Chapter recently banded together with a variety of community organizations and groups, including:
- Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
- Catholic Charities Esperanza Center
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
- Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center
- Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School
- CASA – Citizenship Center at Rockville
- Central American Resource Center
- Ethiopian Community Center
- Hogar Immigrant Services
- Gregory the Great Catholic Church
More than 100 volunteers, including immigration attorneys, law clerks, law students, paralegals, interpreters, and community organizers, worked together to spread the word about nine Citizenship Day events taking place across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. These partnerships and collaborations led to a highly successful initiative, with more than 225 individuals served – completing and filing N-400 applications. With everyone’s support, these individuals are moving closer to becoming our future fellow Americans.
We are all so busy, but AILA Citizenship Day is an example of how much stronger we are when we band together with our local partners. When we combine our specialized immigration law expertise and dedication with the experience of local community-based organizations and the passion of volunteers, we can make a bigger positive impact on the lives of the immigrants who enrich and strengthen our communities every day. Now that’s some good news you can use!