“[T]he ‘us’ we see used to be one of ‘them.’ We were a gift to this country and they will be too,” says Francesco Isgro, President & CEO of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc., & Editor-in-Chief of Voce Italia! 😎 – immigrationcourtside.com
Thanks for speaking out so forcefully and articulately for some of the most vulnerable among us, Francesco, my long-time friend and former DOJ colleague! Your own continuing distinguished career in both the public and now private/NGO sectors is a testament to the irreplaceable contributions of generations of immigrants to our great nation!
I’m proud to say that Francesco started as a legal intern in the “Legacy INS” Office of General Counsel during my tenure as Deputy General Counsel. He was then selected to become a INS Trial Attorney (now known as ICE Assistant Chief Counsel) under the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He eventually went on to a stellar career as a Senior Litigator, editor, and “hands on” educator at the Office of Immigration Litigation (“OIL”) in the DOJ’s Civil Division.
I specifically remember two of Francesco’s innovative contributions while in the INS OGC: collecting, indexing, and publishing the legal opinions of the General Counsel (and Deputy General Counsel); and creating a Law Bulletin that our office could use to inform the scores of field attorneys nationwide under our supervision and direction. This later led to vastly improved attorney training programs developed by OGC Counsel Craig Raynsford, assisted by Fran Mooney (who later went on to become the Public Information Officer for EOIR while I was BIA Chair).
I remember being a guest lecturer in Francesco’s immigration class while he was teaching at Georgetown Law. He also went on to found and become Editor-in-Chief of OIL’s Immigration Litigation Bulletin, a highly-respected internal source of information and guidance for USG attorneys involved in immigration.
My experiences on the bench during 13 years at the (now “legacy’) Arlington Immigration Court mirrored Francesco’s observations. Those whom we were able to help regularize their status under the law were overwhelmingly hard-working individuals making important contributions got our nation and our economy. Many had been doing it for years, sometimes even decades, and had USC children and even grandchildren who were “living proof” of the contributions of families who are given a chance to succeed.
Often, the “next generations” were present in court. I both congratulated them and asked them never to forget and appreciate the risks and hardships their parents had undertaken so that they could fulfill their complete promise in a free society! “Building America, one case at a time,” as I used to quip to the attorneys involved on both sides.
Francesco’s “Christian social justice message,” and his references to Pope Francis and the history of U.S. immigration also harken to a message I heard recently from Villanova University President Rev. Peter Donohue and Professor Michele Pistone during a recent educational event at Villanova Law. In his remarks, Rev. Donahue traced the founding of Villanova University to the response of Augustinian Friars to the burning of St. Augustine’s Church in downtown Philly during the Nativist Riots of 1844!
Professor Pistone credited Christian social justice teaching and the inspiration of Pope Francis for her inspiring her success at the Villanova Immigration Clinic as well as the founding of the VIISTA Villanova Program to provide more well-qualified non-attorney accredited representatives to serve those in immigration proceedings. The VIISTA graduates whom I met and worked with on litigation skills over the two day seminar/celebration were totally impressive and dedicated.
Thanks again Francesco, for writing this inspiring piece setting forth fundamental truth about American immigration! That some in America shamefully and stubbornly refuse to recognize this truth doesn’t make it any less true, nor does it lessen the necessity to act upon it in moving our nation and our world forward toward a better future.
🇺🇸 Due Process Forever!
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