Posted by Guest on June 15, 2018 in Blog

By Allison Ulven

By the end of June, The Supreme Court will have released their decision on the controversial case, Trump v. Hawaii. Although I have been anticipating the results of this case for some time, I can’t say that I’m optimistic about what will be decided. And while speaking with someone who specializes on this issue affirmed my concerns, it also gave me some perspective and a new wave of knowledge.

Avideh Moussavian is a policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, which focuses specifically on defending low-income immigrants. As I was researching Avideh before our lunch, organized as part of AAI’s summer intern program, there were two questions that I wanted her to answer: what will the future of immigration look like if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Trump, and, if that happens, where would we go from there? How would we continue to fight for immigrants?

Her answer was not what I had expected. To begin, she first made it clear that: 1) from the oral arguments given at the Supreme Court, there is not a lot of hope that they will rule completely in favor of immigrant rights, and 2) for those who favor immigrant rights, we are technically already losing the fight. Trump has already taken steps to slowly put through his overall agenda of banning all immigrants like reducing the cap on refugees admitted, making it harder to obtain visas, and enforcing the so-called “zero tolerance” policy. So even if the court rules completely in favor of immigrant rights, it will continue to be an uphill battle to overturn the damage that has already been done.

But to answer my question about where we go from there, Moussavian said that the next steps would be to turn away from Congress and the federal level, and instead, focus our efforts on how states and localities can advance pro-immigrant agendas in communities. According to the National Immigration Law Center, in 2016, advocates, communities, and businesses were able to strike down multiple anti-immigration proposals in different states. We can continue to make a difference at the state level by influencing public opinion. One way to do that is by using AAI’s Advocacy Road Map to help organize and build support for pro immigrant policies and diverse communities.

Not surprisingly, immigration is normally not a top priority for Americans. I like to consider myself well-informed on politics and the news, but since I started working at AAI, I have realized how little I actually knew about conflicts in the Middle East and immigration. So, how much does the rest of the country actually know about the issue?

Moussavian spoke to us about using storytelling in an effort to educate the public. It’s easier for humans to make a connection and to feel empathy towards a situation when they learn the full story, rather than just reading about policy in the news.

But if the Supreme Court decision comes out to be the worst case scenario, it is important to “assert your rights” and to challenge those who carry out harsh and inhumane policies. The ACLU has a useful outline of the rights all those within the United States enjoy, regardless of their immigration status. It also outlines what to do if you, or someone you know, is ever confronted about your/their citizenship status.

Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, there are people who will continue to advocate for pro-immigration policies. Moussavian and the NILC will continue to litigate, challenge, and sue for immigrant rights and to halt deportation.  And we, at the Arab American Institute, won’t stop fighting.

Allison Ulven is a Summer 2018 intern at the Arab American Institute.