My work in immigration certainly doesn't end at 5pm on August 5th.
I leave a lot of question marks behind. What will happen to the Nigerian client whose father thought she was a witch? What about our client who worked so hard to escape abuse, only to see the police very much on her abuser's side? What about the woman fleeing death threats from her boyfriend in El Salvador? There are so many cases and so many people that I care about, but I'm only a very brief chapter in their story. I may never get to know what happens to the majority of people I have met. The work here continues on- placing cases with new volunteers, reaching out to new partners across the state, and serving those in need.
The work also continues across the country. A national debate rages on surrounding immigration, asylum seekers, and refugees. Some want to allow more refugees into the US, while others want to redefine the bases for refugee and asylee status altogether. Immigration Judges in Atlanta deny 98% of cases. Women and children are still locked up at the border as they flee violence at home. The Supreme Court left millions in limbo. Undocumented immigrants across the country remain vulnerable to labor and sex trafficking, without access to things as basic as driver's licenses and even basic utilities.
Despite all of this, I have hope. This summer I have met fantastic attorneys who are on the front lines of so many of the issues facing immigrants. The people I have met cannot work on every single issue I raised above. Some are dedicated to helping victims of violence, others asylum, and others still specifically work with minors. Many attorneys volunteer their time to work with those in detention centers along the border. There are others advocating for and educating people on issues specific to particular immigrant communities, no matter what their identities may be: LGBTQI, South Asian, or Nigerian. This list doesn't even take into account the countless attorneys in the private sector, in immigration or not, who have dedicated time take cases pro bono or low bono. I am constantly encouraged and energized by the passion that I see and the movement that is happening to help people. I have not lost faith, but instead I'm hopeful and excited to one day take my place among these amazing attorneys and advocates to also fight for our community. My part of this journey is just beginning.