I am excited to launch my blog today. On June 1 of this year, I returned to private practice after more than 22 years of government service as an immigration judge and an attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals. I find myself returning to an environment eerily similar to the one I left.
In early 1993, terrorist attacks in Northern Virginia and New York City triggered calls for tougher immigration policies. Subsequent press coverage brought to the public's attention an asylum system that was severely backlogged and strained to its limits. When a boat carrying asylum seekers from China crashed onto the shores of Rockaway Beach in New York City in June of that year, press coverage fed the public perception that our borders were out of control. Members of Congress responded with bills aimed at severely restricting the right to apply for asylum in this country. Does any of this sound familiar? Is anyone reading this also experiencing a strong feeling of deja vu?
As a young immigration lawyer in my early thirties, I joined with (and learned from) so many outstanding attorneys, advocates, and organizations in the struggle to preserve rights and institute necessary safeguards to protect those fleeing persecution. Most of those organizations, and many of those individuals, are still engaged in the same work, joined by two decades worth of newer names. While the issues and rhetoric seem familiar, the means of delivery have changed drastically in the past two plus decades. When I was last in private practice, there were no blogs; the internet was still new to most of us. Although CNN had just recently gained the attention of the American public with its round-the-clock coverage of the 1991 Gulf War (the Fox News Channel did not yet exist), most of us still got our news from TV at 6 or 11 pm, or read it in print versions of newspapers or weekly magazines. We didn't have mobile phones yet. While I was fortunate enough back then to have an op-ed piece published in The Wall St. Journal, to have several letters published in The New York Times, and to have the rare appearance on TV or radio, or a quote in print, that was a far cry from the present ability to communicate thoughts, images, and videos through social media.
I plan to post new content here on a regular basis. I hope that the perspective I have gained from my experiences both in and out of government will be of interest on the topic of immigration in general, and on issues relating to asylum and refugees in particular. I have authored several articles on historical topics that I will repost here in the hopes of providing some context to current issues.
Thank you for reading. Let the journey begin!
© 2017 by Jeffrey S. Chase. All Rights Reserved.