The Trump administration is implementing new deportation priorities with the aim of creating fear as people are lifted from highly sensitive locations like schools, courts and places of worship, says Julia R Wilson of OneJustice. She was of the view that the Trump administration doesn’t believe in ANY immigration.
Addressing a civil rights forum of the United Muslims of America in Fremont CA, the OneJustice attorney said that statewide network of attorneys is being created in order to response rapidly to ICE activity. At the same time there is focus on prevention side with clinics to offer immigration screening, family preparedness, asylum and other applications if a legal remedy is available.
Tellingly, arrests of immigrants have jumped by nearly one-third since President Donald Trump took office, compared to the same period a year ago. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit of the Department of Homeland Security arrested 21,362 allegedly undocumented immigrants from January 20 through mid-March, according to statistics released to the Washington Post, compared to 16,104 in the same period of 2016. On February 17, first protected DREAMer was deported under Trump. Within three hours of his detention by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, Juan Manuel Montes, 23, was deported to Mexico.
Julia, the Chief Executive Officer of OneJustice, has the honor of being part of her professional colleagues who descended on U.S. airports all over the country in the last week of January to offer free legal help to the travelers and family members of loved ones detained under President Trump’s executive order of January 27.
Trump’s ban temporarily barred citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days, and Syrian citizens indefinitely. It led to chaos at U.S. and international airports as tens of thousands of visa holders were blocked from entering the country or detained after arriving in the U.S
Julia helped stranded travelers at San Francisco and Los Angeles airports. She shared the story of a Syrian refugee who was not allowed to board for a flight to Los Angeles at Istanbul airport because of Muslim Ban.
The 38-year old Syrian refugee, a geologist, was living in Turkey for the last one year. Her wife, who got asylum last year, was already living in Long Beach, CA, living with her two-year-old son who is a US citizen. His flight from Istanbul to Los Angeles was booked on Lufthansa for January 29.
After Trump’s Muslim ban there was chaos. “I was connected to this young man,” Julia said adding: “For this young man , we were part of an international group of advocates, pro bono attorneys, struggling to help him as the legal context shifted around all of us on a nearly daily basis.”
Finally, the Syrian refugee was allowed to board a flight to Los Angeles as the Federal Judge in Washington State, Judge James Robart, ruled (on Feb 3, 2017) the executive order would be stopped nationwide, effective immediately. Julia conveyed the court ruling to the Syrian refugee that helped him convince the airline.
Julia was of the view that using travel ban as a key example, we should mobilize against the injustices. For her working for justice is about preserving American democracy and the rule of law.
Julia believes that at this moment in our country’s history, to achieve the American ideal of Justice For All, mobilization against injustice can and will break down all the walls that the Trump administration seeks to erect between our most human hearts.
Legal aid for Californians
Julia also spoke about pro bono legal services to the poor which are at risk because Trump administration, in the proposed budget would also eliminate, funding to the Legal Services Corp., an independent government agency that sends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to groups providing crucial legal services to low-income Americans.
In 2016, Legal Services received $385 million from Congress, 90 percent of which went directly to fund legal aid organizations.
At present the federal funding supports 11 organizations with over 60 offices throughout the state. She is going to DC to meet with the California legislators to educate them about the importance of legal help for the poor. Julia said this is a non-partisan issue. The rule of law works only when everyone has an equal chance in the courts.
Across the state, Legal Services supplied nearly $43.6 million to 11 different legal aid organizations last year. Funding from the federal agency helped resolve 81,966 cases in California in 2015, the most recent year for which the organization has released case data. Legal Services reports that 47 percent of those cases were housing-related, according to San Francisco Chronicle.
Julia’s OneJustice organization has been working for more than thirty years to provide legal help for Californians in need. OneJustice is a statewide network of 100+ nonprofit legal organizations, law firms, law schools and businesses that together provide life-changing legal assistance to over 270,000 low-income Californians each year.
She said lots of Californians face pressing legal problems. About 12 million cannot afford an attorney and are eligible for free legal help. “This is the normal context of our work – before Trump Administration but this administration has intensified the immigration situation in the country that means we have to respond.”
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com