“How do you practice immigration law in Ithaca, New York?” Over the course of my career, I have been asked some form of this question hundreds of times. While this innocuous question reflects perfectly normal curiosity, it speaks to a general misunderstanding of how the immigration system works.
When I am introducing myself as an immigration lawyer, visions of border walls, and possibly immigration courts enter the minds of those with whom I am speaking. And, rightly so – these are critical elements of both immigration policy and practice that receive deservedly extensive media coverage. However, people are less aware of what faces their work colleague who was born abroad, or what happens when their child brings home a foreign national fiancé. Because of that gap in understanding, it can be more difficult for our friends and family to connect to media stories about the harm caused by the drastic increase in H-1B denial rates or the unreasonably long green card backlogs. This, in turn, can make fixing these issues a low priority for leadership in Washington.
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I am starting a podcast, in part, to fill that gap; I want to give a platform to immigrants, sponsors, advisors, historians, and stakeholders to discuss the “everyday” impact of immigration. Thus was born the “Everyday Immigration Podcast,” which launched on July 4, 2019.
It’s my effort to reach outside my immediate circle, to try and get across all the different ways that immigration impacts our everyday lives.
I am not alone in this endeavor (and AILA put together a handy list of some other AILA member immigration podcasts at the end of this piece) and as it turns out, starting a podcast requires quite a bit of work. First, I needed to find a production company who could record and edit the podcast. There are many production companies out there, if you’d like to chat with me about who I used, I’m happy to help. Then there was the matter of finding guests. Unsurprisingly, foreign nationals are nervous about drawing too much attention to themselves and their experience these days, even if they have “papers” and are supposedly safe. As such, the majority of our first group of episodes will include advisors and attorneys who can explain anonymously the experiences faced by the foreign nationals with whom they work.
Doing something like this outside my normal work meant some less obvious or expected hurdles cropped up too. Because the podcast would not be owned by my employer, I had to incorporate an entity who would own the podcast. I needed to find a podcast hosting service, as well as seek approval from podcast distribution services. I needed to get a logo, develop social media profiles, and even choose a theme song. It turns out that setting up a podcast is at least a part-time job!
That said, the experience has been fantastic. The conversations I have been able to record have been eye-opening, despite my extensive experience in the field. And while I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that I do hope this will have a positive impact on my business development, this increase in human connection has been incalculably beneficial, not just to my understanding of my clients, but to me more generally as a person. So, while I do not yet know whether the Everyday Immigration Podcast will be a success, it has already been worth the investment.