Tahmina Talks- Take Action
As an immigration attorney and advocate, I found the Senate’s failure on February 15, 2018 to turn its open debate into immigration reform to be hugely disappointing. As a country, we have had only a handful of chances to bring meaningful change since 1996. In 2007 we were close as well as 2013 and now it is anyone’s guess when the next opportunity may arise.
Yet, with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program set to expire on March 5th, the fate of 800,000 “Dreamers” is truly in limbo. Will this deadline be extended? Will Congress find a temporary fix within the next two weeks? The answer is unknown, but time is of the essence, and the consequences of inaction are very real. As regular citizens who are not empowered to change policy, what can we do?
I believe that now is the time to create ways in which we can stand up to protect the rights of Dreamers and immigrants who will be the victims of Congress’ inactions. One way I believe we can prepare is to create a nationwide Legal Defense Fund that will help such immigrants should they need to fight for their legal rights in court. Research shows that with legal representation in court, immigrants have a significantly higher chance of success.
While some cities and states, like Seattle and New York, have created local immigrant legal defense funds, it is not enough to help the hundreds of thousands of people across the country. And should there be a need to help these people in court, only a nationwide legal defense fund will help regardless of location.
So, as people who are about immigrant rights, especially for those who were brought up as Americans, who are our friends, students, teachers, colleagues and much more, it is time for us to collaborate and find a way to help them, while we still have time to take action.
Tahmina Watson is an immigration attorney and founder of Watson Immigration Law in Seattle, Washington. She was a practicing barrister in London, England, before immigrating to the United States herself. While her practice includes investor, family-based, and employment-based immigration, she has a strong focus on immigrant entrepreneurs and start-up companies. She is a frequent speaker, autho, and blogger on immigration law matters. Tahmina is an Adjunct Fellow with the Niskanen Center, a policy think tank in Washington, DC. A passionate advocate for immigration reform, she is the author of “The Startup Visa: Key to Job Growth & Economic Prosperity in America”. She is also the host of Tahmina Talks Immigration, a radio show and podcast about U.S. immigration issues.
Tahmina is passionate about helping bring change. Her policy work lead to being part of Hillary Clinton’s immigration working group during the 2016 presidential campaign. She has worked with law and policy makers at the city, state, and federal level. In addition to supporting many local non-profit organizations, she is currently co-chair of the Response Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Washington Chapter – a committee she helped created after the November 2016 election. She also serves on the Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee of Mercer Island School District.
You can learn more about her at www.watsonimmigrationlaw.com.