AILA members are sharing their first person accounts of life and work at the moment – if you’re an AILA member, please email your 400-800 word submission to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Thank you for all you do!
I practice immigration law, and also serve as a legal analyst for Telemundo. On Wednesday night, I received a text from the Telemundo network asking me to do the following day’s live national midday newscast over Skype to avoid proximity to anyone in the studio. I’m asked regularly to participate in these newscasts, but usually I’m there with a cameraman and a reporter.
My first response was “OH NO” because I am not very good with technology. Would I have to figure out lighting and audio too? It was 10pm after a long day working out of my home office, dealing with staff, making six telephonic legal consultations. Would I now have to figure out this Skype thing?!
I called a “techie” friend; they walked me through the process of finding my username on Skype and then changing my password, since I had not used Skype in ages. Together at 10:30pm we navigated the ring lights, positioned the laptop on my coffee table in front of my bookcase in an effort to look professional, and voila! I was ready for the next morning.
On Thursday, I got up at 6:30am ready to do my own makeup (lots of it to simulate professional makeup used when I am at the TV studio), made my coffee and browsed through AILA news and reread AILA8 to be informed and ready for any question the anchor might throw at me. I got through the newscast and had a 15-minute break before our weekly 30-minute Facebook live, also through Skype.
In “normal” life I am at the studio. I get professional makeup, have a cameraman put my microphone on and adjust the lighting. Meanwhile, a crew in Miami fields questions from the audience and reads them to me in my ear as I “professionally” answer them. In summary, it usually takes a team to get this FB live thing right. NOT today! It was me all by myself trying to put my Labrador Luna in her kennel and praying she wouldn’t bark, putting a hand written note on the doorbell that read: Do NOT ring doorbell-filming, getting my hair in place, my notes on my lap and my cell phone connected to the mothership in Miami and my headphones on. I read audience questions myself on my cell phone via text and looked at the camera and answered as best as I could. It was a one woman show! By 11a.m., this was over, but I still had to call my scheduled legal consultations for the day.
I believe there is always a silver lining in everything. For instance, we closed FB live with record numbers (250,000+!), and I learned how to use Skype and how to apply my own makeup (a true feat). Perhaps most importantly, I feel good and blessed to have been able to guide the Spanish speaking immigrant community on many of the changes occurring at USCIS, US Embassies abroad and the immigration courts, even in the midst of this crisis.
The best part was feeling the satisfaction that I had played a role in the larger effort to allay the great fear and uncertainty the Latino Immigrant community is suffering with this worldwide pandemic. LONG DAY!
To my dear AILA member colleagues, please stay safe and smile as much as you can. This too will pass and we will all have learned new ways of doing things, skills we can use later. We can then apply these lessons to our practices for more peace of mind, more efficiency, some far shorter commutes in the future, and thus, happier days as immigration lawyers.