“Prerna Lal” literally translates to “Inspiration Red.” I am a queer Indo-Fijian attorney in the United States. 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 the South Asian diaspora.
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. I have also written independent pieces for Brave New Films, The Sanctuary, Change.org, The Huffington Post and Race Files over time.
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. 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, and fought hard to establish driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
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 a family and immigration law 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 and painlessly won lawful permanent residence through my U.S. citizen spouse.
Nowadays, I work as a policy attorney at a Washington D.C. non profit, Advancing Justice-AAJC. I am also involved with the immigrant rights community in the U.S., and the LGBT movement in Fiji. I am looking for more ways to engage with Indo-Fijians, here and abroad, and love hearing from all island people generally. As I embark on a new career as an attorney, I continue to mentor undocumented youth, consult on immigration movement strategy and tactics, and try to create policy that positively impacts the lives of many people.
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. If you need legal services, feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to refer you to someone in my network.