Nativism, xenophobia, racism, sexism, isolationism are perennial American forces; they ebb, and they flow—the story of race, fear, anxiety and violence is inextricably intertwined with the story of the country—a story of better angels fighting against our worst impulses our history is shaped by the extent to which our better angels or worst instincts win out in a given period of time.” – Jon Meacham.   

I am a proud member of our AILA community, as immigration attorneys have been at the front lines time and time again defending democracy, decency and the common good at times when these very values have been threatened in our nationWe have journeyed sidebyside with our clients through the labyrinth of the immigration process. We have challenged unlawful executive actions in federal court.  We have advocated for our immigrant communities before local, state, and national congressional representatives. I am inspired every day by the actions of my fellow immigration attorneys as we work to promote justice and fairness so that the better angels win.   

We are at yet another difficult moment in our national life, where anti-Asian violence increased 150% in 2020, and where on March 16, eight people from three different establishments in the Atlanta, Georgia, area were murdered, six of whom were Asian women. These incidents in Georgia happened right after Stop AAPI Hate issued a report that it received 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian incidents from across the country since the beginning of the pandemic. The rise of anti-Asian violence is part of a connected story of our country of cycles of racism, exclusion, internment and violence.    

Dismantling systemic racism and injustice in America requires a full community response and, as a community, AILA has committed to defeating the systemic racism and exclusion that fuels hate and injustice across our nation. As the Chair of the AILA Diversity and Inclusion Committee, I invite you to participate in our Committee’s work. We are proud to offer a special complimentary film screening of the HBO documentary Soul of America,” and then a panel discussion of the film on April 7, 2021. 

Based on historian Jon Meacham’s bestseller, the documentary explores pivotal historical events such as the women’s suffrage movement, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the struggle to pass Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s. The film recognizes forces of hatred and division as recurring themes in American life, but ultimately gives hope that the lessons of the past may bring the nation closer to achieving its democratic ideals.  This special film screening is made available through the generosity of Kunhardt Film Foundation and Stop Repeating History. 

On April 7, 2021, our panel discussion “Immigration Attorneys on the Frontlines in Defending Democracy” will feature inspiring and motivating legal scholars, advocates, and practitioners, including Allen Orr who is AILA’s President-Elect and a leader in diversity and inclusion matters, Wendy Feliz who is a champion of inclusion and belonging, and Bill Ong Hing who is a racial justice and immigrant rights advocate.  I hope you will join us. Register here! 

Registrants for the roundtable event will receive instructions on how to access the free movie screening after registering.