Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category.

How One Life Was Changed at NDA

AILA_Keychain_FrontNational Day of Action (what used to be called “Lobby Day”) is an AILA tradition that goes back a number of years. I’ve participated many times, and each time it is different. Each time I come out heartened by some Congressional visits, disheartened by others, but always feeling a part of something greater and ready to keep fighting for my clients.

One of my clients was directly impacted by my NDA participation a few years ago and I wanted to share that story.

It was back in 2010 when our group met with Rep. Velasquez. It’s unusual to get an appointment with your actual legislator, so most often we meet with one of the legislative aides. But this time it was with the Congressional Member herself.

It was just after the terrible Haiti earthquake.  I had a client, a United States Citizen dad, here in New York who was trying to get his newborn child to the US.  The child was born and she and mom were released from the hospital one day before the quake hit; the hospital collapsed in the quake the next day.

We had been trying for months to get the birth certificate or some other proof to the US Embassy in Haiti so that we could get the visa issued. Obviously, the embassy was swamped with requests and work related to the quake, which we understood, but there were some incredibly frustrating delays and run around with the Post that lasted for months.

While we were talking to Rep. Velasquez at our meeting, educating her about immigration reform and how important it is to fix the broken system, I happened to mention this case as an example.  Suddenly her eyes lit up. She jumped out of her chair and called her aide into our meeting and told him to get my name and number and that she would see what she could do. As soon as I got back to the office the next day I gave the aide the details and file number.

The child was in New York a month later.

This sort of result is the exception, not the rule. These meetings are not to ask for help for individual cases, but to educate and advocate on immigration issues. But I used a concrete example in this meeting to illustrate a point, and got this amazing and exceptional result. No one should come to NDA solely for this purpose, but what a story!

So despite the deadlock in Congress, I will be at NDA this year again, as usual. Because you never know when a comment you make in a meeting can inform a congressional hearing question, even months later. You never know how sharing your card with a legislative assistant can lead to being asked for information when a bill is being drafted. And you never know how an offhand comment can reunite a family.

Written by George Akst, NDA Attendee and AILA Member


To register for NDA 2015, go to Agora and sign upit’s free!

Getting a Little Serious about the Need for Immigration Reform

shutterstock_197321441This is a post adapted from my speech last week in accepting an award from AILA for outstanding contributions made as a young lawyer in the field of immigration and nationality law. While the occasion was a happy one and I was honored to receive that award, I took the opportunity, as I do here, to emphasize what is wrong with our current system and that we desperately need to fix it.  I hope you find it of interest:

As I think about the great migrations of people, I’m reminded of my own “gringa” migration from the heartland of Iowa to Washington, D.C. While my own journey was not nearly as harrowing an experience, it is that journey that led me to practice immigration law, to AILA, and to the work that I’m so passionate about.

I have been incredibly lucky to have several amazing people guiding me throughout my journey. My parents who taught me that everyone no matter their background deserves the chance to pursue their dreams. My wonderful husband Justin, whose constant love and support sustains me. Michelle Mendez, my friend and co-professor in the Catholic University immigration clinic who is the most selfless, passionate advocate that I know. The dedicated staff of Benach Ragland, and my partners who I deeply respect and admire; there is no one else I would rather work with in pursuit of our shared mission. Finally my mentor, the late great Michael Maggio: despite his busy immigration practice, he always found time to contribute to our field as a policy advocate, a pro bono champion and a mentor. I have strived to use Michael’s well-rounded approach to our work as a model in contributing through my own practice, especially as I’ve observed the developments in our field over the last few years.

We’re going to get a little serious now.

We are now faced with a humanitarian crisis at our borders.  CBP and ICE officers are using excessive force, inhumane detention conditions, and “no process” removals. We are faced with immigration courts fighting against insufficient resources, overcrowded dockets and cabined legal discretion. And we are faced with a renewed assault on our asylum system by Congress and the agencies themselves.

Yet, no actions are taken by those in power to fix our system. Instead we have a Congress that points fingers and strikes a pose in Capitol Hill hearings and an Administration which, on the back of an immigration reform-focused campaign, has taken to putting Band-Aids on gashes rather than treating the underlying wounds.

Until we have leaders who are going to work together to solve real problems that affect real people, American businesses, and separated families, it is up to us. It is for these reasons that this award is only the beginning of my journey.

Thank you so much for this honor and I hope you will join me in restoring due process and humanity in our immigration system.

Written by Dree Collopy, 2014 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award Winner


Waivers and AILA’s Fall Conference in Montreal

The AILA fall conference in Montreal this September is not just about foreign travel and Canadian/French food and wine. Those are important of course, but only a part of the equation.  In fact, the fall conference is going to offer something unique, something AILA has never before undertaken. The conference – in its entirety – covers waivers. As you may already be aware, stateside processing and provisional waivers are coming to waiver adjudication, and as a result many questions have arisen about what it means and how clients and attorneys will be affected.  Among the confirmed speakers are representatives from the US Consulate in Montreal and Toronto.


Montreal – site of the 2012 AILA Fall CLE Conference on “Waivers of Inadmissibility”.

This conference will delve into medical waivers in a more sophisticated and in-depth way than previous AILA conferences, offering valuable information for more seasoned practitioners. Among the sessions will be a litigation panel strategizing how to respond to waiver denials and move forward in court. Additionally, the entire 212(a)(6)(C) venue will be explored with an in-depth analysis assessing whether in fact a material misrepresentation occurred and potential next steps after such a finding. There will also be a NIV waiver panel with government representatives examining process and law around consular and border applications for Canadians and non-Canadians alike.

While the Annual Conference is without equal, I think that the smaller conferences like this one extend an incredible opportunity to engage in a substantive area of law with a smaller group of people in a collegial atmosphere. I always leave these conferences with insights and ideas that I didn’t have at the outset. Those who attend, I believe will be well rewarded. Those who can’t will have to purchase the recording. Hope to see everyone in Montreal. Bon voyage!

Written by: Heather N. Segal B.A., LL.B, LL.M, Program Chair, AILA Board of Governors

Looking Back at AILA’s First Film Fest

AILA’s Film Fest at the annual conference in Nashville was a great success.  Festival attendees were thrilled to have the opportunity to see such inspirational films.  More than 100 people attended the first night’s red carpet event and sat down with popcorn and candy in hand to watch immigration-related films after a full day of CLE sessions.

I am pleased to announce that “Tony and Janina’s American Wedding” won the audience award.  Congratulations to Ruth Leitman, the director of the film, who was on hand to present the film and speak with attendees about the making of the film.

With all of the positive buzz surrounding the event, we look forward to a bigger and better festival next year at the annual conference in San Francisco from June 26-29, 2013.

Written by: Maya W. Wilbourn, Film Fest Coordinator