A new president matters

Sunday, June 7th, 2009
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

I just returned from the anual conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association held this year in Las Vegas, Nevada. A feature of the conference is the participation of government officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Labor. I learned an astonishing thing — a new president matters. Officials who have over the past eight years have been coming to the conference and taking little interest in the humanitarian concerns raised by attorneys and seeming indifferent to the procedural malfunctions of their agencies this year expressed interest in these issues and at several points indicated that serious work was underway to resolve issues — not where the law is harsh but correctly applied, but where the law is misapplied or the processing and adjudication functions are not functioning properly. The President’s call for openness in government seems to be being taken seriously by government officials as well. Many officials indicated that political appointments have not taken charge in certain agencies, but when they do we should expect changes. It will take time to see for sure whether rhetoric at the top trickles down to more than equally encouraging rhetoric of change below, but the words of officials at this conference is very encouraging.


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