For many across the United States, including those of us passionate about defending the rights of immigrants and their families, this has been an immensely difficult week. The dust is just beginning to settle on an exhausting and divisive election season, one fueled by hate speech and savage political threats directed at immigrants and refugees, women, the black community, Muslims, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups.
Our values of freedom, diversity and inclusion have brought together a robust ecosystem of legal practitioners, organizers, advocates, funders and immigrants, many of whom brought their families to this country in search of safety and a better life for themselves and their children. On the heels of decades of hard-fought positive advances on immigration law and policy, we must actively live and work by these values now more than ever before.
For over 37 years, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center has been working with and for the immigrant community towards building a more democratic and diverse society that meaningfully welcomes and includes all of us. Though it may be hard to make sense of our country in the days and weeks ahead, know that we will work through this uncertainty together. As we move through this transition period and into this next administration, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our work:
- To provide education and training to legal practitioners to best defend their immigrant clients from detention and deportation;
- To support organizations around the country helping millions of eligible people become naturalized citizens and apply for other forms of immigration relief, and across California helping thousands of people access driver’s licenses;
- To advocate for policies that do not exclude immigrants with criminal convictions, refugees fleeing persecution, survivors of domestic violence or immigrant minors;
- To encourage local police jurisdictions across the country to put the safety of all of their residents first by not participating in deportations or any other immigration enforcement activities;
- And, most importantly, to champion our belief in rebellious lawyering – the notion that those who work on behalf of immigrants solicit and prioritize their voices, their suggestions and the expertise of their lived experience first and foremost.
We will not let the tremendous progress we have made, in dedicated partnership and collaboration with many of you, be erased overnight. President-elect Trump has pledged to be a president for all Americans, and the ILRC will work to demand that immigrants, their families and their communities are safely included in that promise. We are ready to join you in rolling up our sleeves to prepare ourselves and each other as best as possible for whatever may come, and continue to make our voices heard in the courts, on the streets, in our local governments and in the halls of Congress.
We strongly encourage community members to proactively use this time to get screened for any possible relief if they have not done so recently, and to seek help only from reputable legal service providers. Above all else, we would like to remind all immigrants – citizens and noncitizens alike – to know (and exercise if necessary) their constitutionally-given rights. To stay updated on new developments and informational resources, please follow us via our website (www.ilrc.org), our Facebook and Twitter pages or join one of our mailing lists.
As we move ahead, we have a responsibility to treat each other with kindness and compassion, and to give each other hope. If you are reading this, no matter how you are feeling right now, please know that you are not alone and that communities and organizations like ours are ready to continue to stand behind you and fight. Our work is about far more than politics and immigration law. It is about keeping families and communities of all backgrounds where they rightfully belong – together.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center