“Prerna Lal” literally translates to “Inspiration Red.” I am a queer Fijian and a law school graduate of The George Washington University. I also have another graduate degree in International Relations. Practically interdisciplinary, I have much love for technology, social media, international political economy and development, critical race theory, subaltern histories and South Asian diaspora studies.
I started blogging on my personal website shortly after graduate school in 2007 to chart my journey as a queer and undocumented immigrant in the United States. This blog is a culmination of my evolving thoughts, personal opinions and experiences over time in my struggle to attain legal residency. In between, I also blogged hundreds of pieces at Brave New Films, The Sanctuary, Change.org, Huffington Post and Race Files on several occasions.
My direct experiences in the U.S. make me primarily concerned with building spaces and using my limited resources to elevate marginalized voices. While serving on the steering committee of United We Dream and as a co-founder of Dream Activist, I helped to build a vibrant and historic network of immigrant youth online, which has mobilized thousands into action nationwide and brought the federal DREAM Act up for a vote twice. When Arizona passed SB 1070, I was sent on a women’s delegation to collect information on how anti-immigrant laws impacted women and children. Locally, I also helped to end Secure Communities in the District, and fought hard to establish driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. My work with directly-impacted communities led to the creation and adoption of social media by many local immigrant youth groups. As I embark on a new career in the intersection of legal, digital and political strategy, I continue to mentor undocumented youth, and consult on movement strategy and tactics. I also currently serve as a Board Director for Immigration Equality, an LGBT immigration organization.
My parents moved to the U.S. when I was 14, shortly before yet another military coup in the Fiji Islands. My grandmother, a U.S. citizen, sponsored us for a green card shortly thereafter. Due to long backlogs, I was 24 when my parents received their green cards, and thus considered aged-out of the process. The USCIS proceeded to place me in removal proceedings in early 2011. This arbitrary and unfair separation from my family prompted me to go to law school, where I got involved in litigation at the Ninth Circuit on this matter. While in law school, I worked at various immigration law firms and non-profits, honing my skills as a family and immigration law attorney. We won, but the Obama Administration appealed the case, and the Supreme Court of the United States will decide on the issue of aged-out children’s eligibility to gain green cards in the 2013-2014 term. In the meanwhile, I have lawful presence in the United States under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and Department of Homeland Security, and soon lawful permanent resident through my U.S. citizen spouse.
My work and commentary has been featured and quoted in stories for the New York Times, US News and World Report, CNN, USA Today, The Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, as well as international media in a dozen countries, ethnic media outlets, documentaries and PhD dissertations. I’ve also been published in academic journals, and I have various articles pending publication. I’ve traveled to over 30 states and presented at dozens of conferences ranging from the American Association of Geographers to the International Studies Association to Netroots Nations.
All thoughts and opinions expressed on this website are mine alone, and not affiliated with any organization. Also, as a legal disclaimer, nothing on this site creates a lawyer-client relationship.