Today marks one week since we learned that Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Most of us did not expect this result, and many of us feared it. Over the past year, Mr. Trump has said many hurtful and aggressive things against immigrants. He has talked about building a wall, banning Muslims, deporting millions of people, further limiting the already unworkable employment-based visa system, and cancelling DACA. As the Chair of the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), I am concerned for the futures of my clients, their families, and their employers, but I also see the incredible talent and heart of the immigration lawyers and community activists I work with in Colorado and across the country. In this time of insecurity, this is my message of hope and unity.
To the immigrant community: Many of you already have an AILA member as your lawyer, but even if you do not, know that we advocate for all of you. For more than 70 years, AILA has worked with leaders from both parties to promote a fair and just immigration system, one that reflects the values on which our country was founded. We will continue to do this by working with any federal, state, or local government that is developing policies that affect you. AILA has more than 14,000 members, and the hundreds of members in the Colorado Chapter are prepared to stand up against any laws or policies that violate our fundamental principles of fairness and due process. We will oppose any rhetoric that denies the important role immigrants have played in building this great nation. Our shared prosperity relies on the innovation and creativity of immigrants from all over the world, from all walks of life, and from all faiths and cultural traditions.
During the next few months, there will be many questions and few answers. While we wait to see what changes the next administration will make, I offer these practical suggestions:
- remain calm – do not make any important decisions based on fear;
- do not believe anyone who calls you claiming to be from ICE;
- beware of “notarios” or other “immigration experts” trying to benefit from the current uncertainty – only
a licensed lawyer can give legal advice;
- if you have a lawyer, keep in touch and make sure he or she has your current contact information;
- if you have DACA, there is currently no change to the program, but you should consult with a reputable
immigration lawyer before making any future decisions.
To immigration advocates: We have faced challenges before, so we know the invaluable and unlimited resources at our disposal: the talents, ingenuity, passion, and persistence of over 14,000 AILA members and the community organizations and elected leaders with whom we collaborate. Looking forward, we must continue to support one another as we always have, coming together to share stories and inspiration, and taking every opportunity to advocate for fair and just treatment for all immigrants. Together we must promote this message of unity and perseverance to the federal immigration agencies, to Congress, to the courts, and to the public at large.
Whatever challenges we might face in the next four years, AILA Colorado will continue to live our mission: to promote justice and advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy.
Katharine Speer Chair, AILA Colorado