Ashley Advocates at the AILA National Day of Action

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By Ashley LaRiccia, Equal Justice Works Fellow , sponsored by McGuireWoods and Dupont, placed with Lutheran Services of Georgia

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lutheran Services of Georgia.
On April 16, 2015, I traveled to Washington, DC for the American Immigration Lawyer Association’s (AILA) National Day of Action. As part of a team of over 300 immigration lawyers from across the United States, we made it our mission to remind Congress that America needs immigration reform. Our day started off with breakfast and a speech from Congresswoman Lofgren of California, an immigrant ally. We then broke off into our teams, and I along with eight other members of the Georgia/Alabama Chapter of AILA attended appointments with Georgia legislators and their staff.

Our message to the legislators was and continues to be that America needs a better immigration system. We stressed that immigration enforcement must reflect American values and should include protections for unaccompanied children and families seeking asylum. I was able to speak to the offices about the unique ways in which Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) serves immigrant and refugee families in their own congressional districts. Congressman John Lewis’s office was especially interested in issues affecting unaccompanied minors and the concerns raised by our AILA cohort about the low approval rate of asylum cases in the Atlanta Immigration Court.

During our lunch break we heard from a number of congressmen, congresswomen, and senators about their stances on immigration policy and law. A message emphasized in many of the legislators’ speeches was that America should not be detaining mothers and children seeking asylum and that such detention centers are in conflict with American values and basic human rights.

Later in the afternoon, my team met with the offices of Senator Isakson and Representative Price in order to emphasize the message that America needs immigration reform and an enforcement-only approach is not a solution. The other members of the AILA chapter met with the offices of Senator Perdue and Representatives Bishop, Austin Scott, David Scott, and Westmoreland.

If you would like to learn more about the details of AILA’s message to our Congressmen and Senators, please follow the link for an electronic version of this pamphlet that we left behind at all of our visits.