Following my experience assisting immigrant families at the border, I have shared the story, the urgent challenges, and the need for change with many audiences. I have presented the same PowerPoint of my experience enough times that it’s now possible for me to click through the slides and images, words flowing easily, despite the devastating reality of the problem which is that families seeking asylum are freezing cold and hungry, held in cages and separated to disastrous effect. Over the past several months, I have at times felt numb to the injustice. But not last week.
Last week, for the second year in a row, Proskauer launched a series of Lawyering for Social Justice Workshops at John Jay College in Manhattan. The audience of mostly prelaw students are highly motivated and engaged. The students eagerly raised their hands with questions before I even got into a rhythm with the slides. Our lively conversation not only addressed recent changes in policy but included a broader discussion of immigration and how it fits into American ideals. Many of the students are either immigrants themselves or first-generation Americans. Many are also the first in their families to attend college.
After the presentation, I was swarmed by students who shared personal stories and asked for career advice. One senior who attended our Lawyering for Social Justice Workshops last year was back for a second round, and reported that she had been accepted into law school and that her acceptance letter specifically referenced her attendance in our program. At that moment, I felt grateful for the opportunity to partner with John Jay, and for my renewed awareness of how important these conversations are, and how a supportive community helps us become less desensitized by the many challenges we face.