Adventures of a Forced Migrant Contact Me
I am an Indo-Fijian American attorney currently residing in the United States. My pronouns are they/their.
Why this website? I am a geek and design websites as a hobby. I started blogging on my personal website shortly after I finished graduate school in 2007 to chart my journey as a queer and undocumented immigrant in the United States, and to get in touch with long-lost friends. This blog is a culmination of my evolving thoughts, personal opinions and experiences over time in my struggle to attain legal residency, and going on to become an attorney despite all odds. Nowadays, I use it mainly as an archive of my life, release government records for public consumption, and occasionally share what’s going on with me. I also cross-post my articles published in other news publications here.
My direct experiences in the U.S. make me primarily concerned with curating spaces to elevate subaltern and marginalized voices. I pioneered the use of social media as a way to stop deportations, and used it to stop the deportations of hundreds of undocumented youth. 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. My work with directly-impacted communities led to the creation and adoption of social media by many local immigrant youth groups to stop deportations, and laid the groundwork for the federal DACA program. 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 worked with a broad coalition to end Secure Communities in the District of Columbia, and fought hard to establish driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. As a policy attorney at AAJC, I worked hard to establish the DAPA/extended DACA programs, TPS for Nepal and parole-in-place for the family members of Filipino war veterans.
Immigration history: 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 an attorney. We won the case at the Ninth Circuit, but the Obama Administration appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. I graduated from law school, and successfully motioned the Department of Homeland Security to close my removal case. After the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I quickly won lawful permanent residence through my U.S. citizen spouse, and got on the path to citizenship. On April 19th, 2018, I became a U.S. citizen.
Work history: After law school, I took the bar, and became one of the first undocumented lawyers to be licensed in the United States in 2014. I worked with the Not One More Deportation Campaign through a local collaborative, D.C. Center for Immigrant Justice, and also helped with various litigation cases in the federal courts. Realizing I could make some real impact in Washington D.C., I joined AAJC as an immigration policy attorney and spearheaded various policy initiatives that remain in place even today, such as parole for Filipino war veterans and TPS for Nepal. Soon thereafter, I sought to return home to California, and took up a job as an immigration attorney, clinical supervisor and lecturer at a clinic of the law school at Berkeley. I built a successful school-based legal services program from the ground up, and after three years and gaining U.S. citizenship, decided it was time to move on to doing things that challenged and interested me while not running me into the ground in terms of my health. I am now considering new opportunities, ways to take care of myself, and working on opening up my own law firm.
I continue to mentor and support undocumented youth, consult on tough and complex cases, spend quite a bit of time at the gym, and help my communities in any way that I can.
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. The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Prerna Lal, and the user.