Below please find a firsthand account form our Senior Associate Christina Xenides, Esq. relating her experience spending a day advocating and lobbying for immigration related issues before Congress:
On April 7, 2016, I traveled down to Washington, D.C. with a group of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) lawyers from the New York Chapter to meet with several representatives from Congress to lead a discussion over the fact that America needs leadership on immigration. I was able to meet with legislative assistants, directors, and counsel for five of New York’s representatives, including Rep. Kathleen Rice, Rep. Brian Higgins, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Elliot Engel, and Rep. Charles Rangel. Our group was also joined by five 7th and 8th graders from the Manhattan Country School who were there to speak about the U.S.’s response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis and address concerns over Islamophobia. While recognizing that Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is not going to happen this year, we discussed piecemeal initiatives that New York’s Representatives could consider to continue to support immigrant communities, including voting to support the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016 (which mandates that unaccompanied children and vulnerable immigrants receive legal representation) as well as voting to support any proposed bill that would increase the number of visas allocated for various forms of relief, especially the U-Visa and EOIR-42B Cancellation of Removal. We also made sure to emphasize key statistics including the fact that recent polling shows that 3 out of 4 Americans support legalizing the status of unauthorized immigrants, border apprehension is at a 40 year low, and immigration is good for the economy (immigrant-owned businesses added more than $775 billion dollars of revenue to the U.S. GDP in 2012, immigrants started one-fourth of all new businesses in 2011, and immigrant-owned small businesses employ 4.7 million people). We also spent a good amount of time discussing the need to end family detention and for the U.S. to treat refugees and asylum seekers with a humanitarian response that protects these vulnerable migrants. Overall, it was a very productive day and I was able to meet and engage with several of New York’s Representatives as well as strengthen the network amongst colleagues that Youman, Madeo & Fasano has developed over the years. Taking such an assertive role in the activities of our local AILA Chapter and remaining on the front lines of the fight for immigrant rights is essential to Youman, Madeo & Fasano. This is how we develop ourselves in our legal community and it provides the depth we need in order to provide our clients with representation and service of the highest quality.