Thinking about immigration law, and the practice of this complicated, often-frustrating, and lifechanging area of the law, I can’t help but be confounded and inspired by what has happened this year.
Confounded because of the rhetoric and policies emanating from the administration that cause havoc by turning years of standard immigration law practice upside down in a multitude of ways, that endanger families, that purport to be about public safety and national security while eroding both, that terrify children and parents, and that undermine due process.
Inspired because of the countless hours of volunteering, of counsel offered, of AILA members soaking up new resources and new tactics in order to face all of these changes – and when necessary, to take the battle beyond immigration court and into federal court.
Inspired, too, by the Dreamers. Watching as they take over the halls of Congress, speak with press, and lift up their stories, how can you not be moved?
I ask myself how I would react in the same situation. What would I do if I had temporary protection from deportation yanked out from under me by an administration that lumps me and my fellow nurses, students, entrepreneurs, and community members into a category of undesirables, undeserving of protection?
I want to believe that I would embrace the support of nearly 90% of the American public and be courageous. I hope that I would join the hunger strikes, the sit-ins, the rallies and protests. But would I? If I wasn’t sure I’d be protected from deportation from the only home I knew, how brave would I be?
These Dreamers have lived their courage in a way that resonates with the civil rights movement of history. They inspire me, no matter the disappointments from Congress, to continue the fight. The fight for better immigration laws. The battle for fair days in court for detained immigrants. The struggle for consistency and rationality in immigration policies and adjudications.
We didn’t win every fight this year. But we won a lot more than we would have without the courage and inspiration of our allies, colleagues, and friends. I’m going into the new year holding that inspiration close, ready to turn 2018 into another year of not giving up or giving in, knowing this is what I need to be doing.
So, take a respite over the holidays, take a deep breath, and take heart. 2018 is coming and I’ll be looking to all of you to be fearless, steadfast, and courageous. Because next year and every year, #AILAStandsWithImmigrants.