Category Archives: Law school

Statement On Receiving A DREAM ACT Student Activist Scholarship Award

Today was supposed to be my first deportation hearing and overall, quite a stressful week, but it turned into a majorly good one when I came home last night to find a scholarship check in the mailbox from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), for service to the Latin@ community and specifically for being an “exceptional advocate for the DREAM Act.”

The letter was signed by Mr. Thomas Saenz, who I have only met briefly on one occasion but respect tremendously. For a long time, Mr. Saenz was the only leader in the mainstream immigration reform world to champion an LGBT-inclusive immigration reform as well as a standalone DREAM Act. Additionally, MALDEF has a long history of fighting legal battles for immigrant communities, especially undocumented students. They successfully fought and upheld instate-tuition for undocumented students in California, along with engaging in many other fights for immigrants and citizens across the United States.

I cannot deny the privileges associated with this award. A lot of my undocumented activist friends who have given up their day jobs and education to actively organize in their communities need the same kind of financial help. The fact that I have been able to continue my education despite substantial barriers is not a testament to my hard work, but simply a matter of luck and privilege. Essentially, we all need help and I hope other organizations can step up to the plate to provide some semblance of support.

The financial help comes at a time when I am unsure about how to meet law school tuition and cost of living for next semester, so it should help to alleviate the pressure on me tremendously.

For law students interested in serving immigrant communities in some legal capacity, MALDEF is now accepting applications for Summer 2012 Legal Interns for all MALDEF locations. Send a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample to jobs@maldef.org.

Happy weekend.

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Filed under Immigration, Law school

Selling Lal

This is my new campaign: I need a job.

Why do I need a job? My mom is really sick. She’s probably not going to last much longer at this rate. If I can’t get a job or financial support in the next few months, I will be forced to leave the country and go back to Fiji, where I’m likely to be persecuted for a myriad of reasons. It’s heartbreaking to admit that, but it is true.

I have a Masters in International Relations, working on a law degree, with lots of experience in organizing youth, shaking up national policy and running social media campaigns. My specialty is queer, race, gender and immigration issues, though I’m pretty knowledgeable about matters having to do with international political economy as well.

My work and commentary has been featured and quoted in stories for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, US News and World Report, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, as well as ethnic media outlets, documentaries and PhD dissertations. I’ve to regularly divert media calls and emails to other sources. I’ve also been published in academic journals. 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. The list keeps growing.

I am insightful, resourceful, and solution-oriented with a great sense of humor. My ability to find humor in tragic situations is a real talent.

I can speak five different languages. Did you know that Fiji-Hindi is a language that was created by indentured servants from all parts of India so that people working under slave-like conditions on sugar-cane plantations could understand each other beyond their respective castes and cultures, share their lived experiences and traumas? I speak it.

I am direct, loyal and like to keep people honest and accountable. I do what needs to be done even if it means risking my life in order to get justice.

You get to check off a lot of boxes. The “women, immigrants, people of color, LGBT persons encouraged to apply” all applies to me.

I have legal work authorization, which is likely to be renewed throughout the long immigration court proceedings but an employer can easily sponsor me for an EB-2 or a H-1 with a waiver and get me out of removal proceedings.

Yes, you can actually help. Si se puede.

Resume (Updated: 7/29/2011). Please check out my Linked In for more details on education, work experience and specific skills.

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Filed under Law school

Critique of Professional

Warning: This blog post is not professional. But it is real. Can you deal with it?

You say I’m “not professional enough.” I hear “you are not white enough.”

Profession-al. It’s such a capitalist word, imbued in the disciplining of our bodies, the appropriation of our words and time for a singular purpose. It’s a “civilizational discourse.”

Professional is the customer service representative who has to sound like an empty drone over the phone. Professional is the white executive of a multi-billion dollar company who lies under oath after wrecking our homes and gets a big holiday bonus at the end of the year. Professional is to hold in your true feelings and emotions, to not scream when you will be justified in your anger, to not cry when you need to cry. Professional is repressed. Professional is closeted. Professional is desexualized.

Pro-fessional is a constructed linguistic and cultural representation grounded in racist and sexist stereotypes in order to keep certain people in check or in line, while truncating our truths, marginalizing our histories and erasing our expressions of identity.

A dress pants (suit) is professional attire for an interview in America. A sari or salwaar kameez (suit) isn’t. And a hijab or burkha certainly isn’t. They call this unprofessional person a terrorist.

A “kid” or “petulant child” cannot become a “professional” without papers. Unprofessional becomes a slur that serves as reminder for the many ways in which this country truncates our growth. They call this unprofessional person an illegal. And they tell this “illegal” to keep her/his experiences as a janitor off the professional law school resume.

I’m unprofessional. It means I disrupt hegemonic universalizing narratives. It means I fight the injustice of disciplining and conditioning our minds to certain terrors and violence in our daily lives. It means I don’t conform to labels placed on my body. It means I don’t care if my truth is beyond your comprehension because I will still speak it. And it certainly means I dump the “model minority” stereotype in the dustbin only to reclaim it when I need to show whose the smarter one here.

Keep the violence and colonialism of “professional” off my words and body.

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Filed under Discourse Studies, Law school, Neo-Liberalism

Mark Your Calendar for May 6: A Benefit to Raise Awareness for the DREAM Act and Safe Schools

Fiji

Image by Light Knight via Flickr

One of the best things that came out of moving to Washington D.C. is the number of wonderful friends I have made out here. Some of them, along with some awesome law school mates, are holding a fundraiser for me this Friday at RAS, that also promises to be a benefit for the DREAM Act and Safe Schools.

It’s a crazy time: the government wants to separate me from my family, my job was terminated out of the blue, the law school housing is kicking me out quite soon and I’ve to move back to California and look for a full-time job.

So this is a great farewell as well as a good way of raising awareness. Special performances by DJ Zack Rosen and DJ Sicarii, fellow law school section-mate. Come join us because it promises to be a night of fun.

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Officially a 2L

I should be out partying with other law school friends right now. Instead, I’m holed up in my studio wondering about how to pay for law school next year.

(Unlike U.S. citizens and legal residents, I cannot get loans for school. Grants and scholarships only go some way to covering $65,000 per year).

On my last day of law school exams, I received notice of contract termination from Change.org in fantastic fashion. It wasn’t a wrongful termination so I won’t put up a protest. Actually I have a lot to say about the way in which I was fired the morning of my last 1L final and a few choice words for a lot of people, but this isn’t the right place or time for it. I need to move forward in life and put the work permit to good use and get it renewed before November. The bad thing about a freelance contract is that I don’t get to sue for wrongful termination or collect unemployment. Comparably, if you have a full-time job contract and they terminated it to give you a “better position,” you can actually sue. My favorite subject in law school has been Contracts thus far and I’m glad I learned it well to deal with unscrupulous employers in the near future.

I’ve had pretty terrible experiences with employers in the past. My first blogging quasi-contract was with Brave New Films. They had someone acting with authority promise to pay a stipend of $250 per month that never really came through. I blogged for about 5 months and they never had even the courtesy to admit that they could not compensate my work. Instead, they were unjustly enriched and I probably have monetary restitution claims against them. It’s too bad suing them for that minuscule amount would cost me more money. But I hold all their claims of being pro-immigrant or pro-labor or even progressive as completely baseless and insincere. It’s simply inexcusable. And it’s almost like the same cycle that keeps repeating itself.

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Filed under Immigration, Law school

Irony

I received a random call from Legal Language telling me that I was receiving second place in some kind of contest. I could not recall what it was and then I remembered this really bad immigration law blog post I had submitted on a website some time ago.

From their website:

  • Second place: Prerna Lal, a student at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC. Her article, “USCIS Reinterpretation of CSPA: A Deference to Screwed Priorities,” discusses the flaws in US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act and how it prolongs the separation of US immigrant families.

I can already hear my mother laughing about this over the phone.

Thank you Legal Language for considering the piece worthy for publication!

I’m getting a $100 for this.

Now I just need to remember what I wrote.

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Filed under Immigration, Law school

Embracing the Colonial

Shockingly, this isn’t a post about post-colonialism unless you read beyond the text and unearth a sub-text.

I’ve been in Washington D.C. for several days now thoroughly detesting the humid weather in this swampy city while checking out housing.

It was a daunting task — I’ve no official credit history even though I’ve never defaulted on a payment. I’ve no record of employment even though I am an entrepreneur with a limited liability company to my name. Getting an apartment on my name would have been next to impossible even though I could pay an advance of 6-months in rent. The other option was room-shares and I had nailed down several I needed to check out. Luckily (or unluckily), the housing counselor assigned me to on-campus housing, which had been unavailable prior to coming to D.C.

I jumped at the chance to live on campus although now I think about it, law school will feel all too much like high school or being a “freshman” in college.I’m not sure I necessarily want that “experience” but it’s fun to slip into another role and place where practically no one recognizes you. It’s a chance to re-invent myself and figure out what I really want outside the pressures of family drama and “movement-building.”

There’s no need to act like a martyr, step on the sacrificial pyre, and give myself stress about anything that does not directly concern my life.

Nearing the first week of DC living, I can say:

  • The French bistros and urban hipster places feel equally comfortable though we certainly need way more ethnic food.
  • I don’t particular know how I feel about the Foggy Bottom area where I’m residing but I do love the quaint Eastern Market, U-street, the gay-borhoods and Columbia Heights.
  • DC is still a particularly soul-less city for me with way too many kool-aid drinkers. I’m a critical thinker and deconstructionist. It’s like the worst fit for me, intellectually and politically. We know I’d rather be at UCLA if I could get the benefits of their David Epstein public interest program, but lets not start on that now.
  • The monsoon type rains are fantastic in the summer (and deserve a completely separate blog post)

Today I went shopping at the GW bookstore and bought myself some gear. I’m a GW Colonial working on my second graduate degree this Fall. It’s like living an alternative reality. But I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.

Go Colonials!

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Filed under Law school