The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) released a short interview with the new AILA Executive Director, Benjamin Johnson. You can see the full interview below.
Johnson spent the interview discussing his background in immigration law and what he hopes to achieve in his tenure as AILA Executive Director.
I found the beginning of the interview where Johnson explains his path to becoming an immigration lawyer particularly interesting. After graduating from law school in 1991,1 Johnson began his law career as a criminal defense and civil litigation lawyer in California. By Johnson's account, he was inspired to take an interest in immigration law when he took note of “angry rhetoric” against immigrants and immigration in general. He stated, “I was struck by the idea that we would really begin scapegoating an entire population of people.” Accordingly, Johnson moved to Arizona in 1994 and started the Immigration Outreach Center. From those beginnings, Johnson would eventually join AILA and take a variety of leadership positions, ultimately culminating now in AILA Executive Director.
This portion of the interview is interesting in that it shows how lawyers can take an interest in immigration law for a variety of reasons. In Johnson's case, it was inflammatory rhetoric about immigration that led him down the path of being an immigration attorney. Johnson's career and statements shows a passion for contributing to the AILA community and working to help immigrants improve their lives that is befitting of an AILA Executive Director. Finally, although most will agree with some of AILA's positions and disagree with others, the immigration policy debate stands to benefit from having passionate voices such as the new AILA Executive Director's contributing to the discussion.