January 17, 2018

Deportations, DACA at Risk, and Inspirational Celebrations of MLK Day

Heart-wrenching deportations continue to grab headlines. Jorge Garcia was brought to the United States thirty years ago at the age of ten. Despite having no criminal record, Jorge was summarily deported this week to Mexico. Jorge has been married to Cindy Garcia, an American citizen, for fifteen years and the couple have two young children. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) refused to exercise its discretion to allow Jorge to stay in America. Cindy has vowed to fight for her husband’s return but commentators have suggested that could take years. The Garcias are but one in a long list of families that have been separated by ICE policies. Even Senator Lindsey Graham noted that Jorge’s case was “something that we need to look at.”  Ironically, Jorge was too old to qualify for protection under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

And speaking of DACA . . .  A fix for our 700,000-800,000 DACA dreamers, many of whom currently serve in our military, still has not been found. Here too, Senator Graham has been in the spotlight. Graham, a Republican, and Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, joined together to craft a bi-partisan bill to ensure that the DACA dreamers would be protected against deportation. While many view this issue as largely affecting just Latinos, DACA dreamers hardly stand alone. Support has been universal and come from many other groups. Just today, 82 rabbis and Jewish activists waited patiently as they were arrested on Capitol Hill while protesting for immediate action to protect DACA recipients. When asked why, many of the Jewish protestors explained that the motivation was their own collective history and journey as immigrants, which made fighting for current immigrants the “right thing to do.” Barbara Weinstein, an associate director for the Religious Action Center, further explained that “We as Jews know the experience of being immigrants. And as Americans, we’re deeply aware of our history as a nation of immigrants, and that throughout that history immigrants have been a source of strength for this county.” #HERETOSTAY  

Monday marked Martin Luther King Jr., Day, commemorating the achievements and sacrifices of the great civil rights leader. This is a particularly special year as the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death is fast approaching (April 4). Basketball star Lebron James honored Dr. King in an elegant call for unity, noting “[t]oday is a great day for people to realize how America was built and how we all have to stand united in order to be one.” And in Dallas, Texas, Wesley Trent Stoker, a 9-year-old white boy, paid homage to Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech by calling for unity and declaring, “I may not look like Dr. King, but I believe like Dr. King.” Wesley gave his speech at an annual MLK oratory competition. Wesley also pointed out that – like Dr. King – he too was a minister’s son. In an interfaith video, Wesley’s father, Reverend Andy Stoker, previously had urged communities to come together to fight bigotry, noting that “we’re [all] in this together.”  Wesley was awarded first-place in the annual competition, which was sponsored by a law firm.      

See, lawyers can do good things! And/or motivate others to do the same. Want to get involved? Stay tuned for info about Loyola’s upcoming Social Justice Open House. . . 

January 9, 2018

Inspiring Golden Globes Speech by Oprah Winfrey #METOO #TIMESUP; 200,000 Salvadorans Face Deportation Due to Termination of TPS Status; and Welcome Back Students!

Oprah Winfrey was awarded the prestigious Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday. She gave an inspiring speech that touched upon both the #METOO and the #TIMESUP movements, targeting sexual harassment and gender inequality. Oprah promised that a “new day is on the horizon” as she rallied both women and good men to take a stand. Oprah also poignantly recalled being a child watching the Academy Awards on television and witnessing Sidney Poitier make history by becoming the first black actor to receive the coveted Oscar. She noted that it was not lost on her that little girls across America were watching her become the first African-American woman to win the Cecil B. Demille Award. Almost immediately, there were calls for Oprah to set another powerful example for our children by becoming the first woman (and second African-American) president. For a full transcript of Oprah’s Golden Globes speech, click here.   

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would be ending the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for approximately 200,000 Salvadorans, who were told to prepare for deportation. TPS was previously withdrawn for Nicaraguans and Haitians, with Hondurans expected to be added to this list by the end of the year. Affected Salvadorans will be expected to leave the country by September 9, 2009 if they have not obtained a green card by that time.  Commentators note that this latest action brings the number of immigrants facing deadlines to leave the United States to nearly 1 million. This figure includes the nearly 700,000 “dreamers” who legal status is derived from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

And locally, Welcome Back Students! Spring semester kicks off next week at Loyola. Hit the books, but do also find time to be good to your neighbor and fight for social justice. For many – including very many Loyola alums – the pursuit of social justice is either all or at least a part of what being an attorney is all about. See you on campus!