Early in December, the staff and I gathered to prepare a presentation on our efforts to resist Trump’s policies in New Mexico during 2017. Part of the presentation included a video we produced this summer about Kadhim Albumohammed and his family, describing how their lives would be rocked by Kadhim’s impending deportation to Iraq.
Teary-eyed, Kadhim’s teenage daughter described her fears. “Will I ever get to see him again? And it’s hard because, like, what is the last thing you are ever going to say to your dad when you know that’s the last time you are ever going to see him? I don’t know what I’m going to say. I don’t want to have to think about that because he’s my best friend. And I don’t want him to leave.”
At that point, she bows her head and breaks into tears. And, in that moment, I couldn’t help but cry a little too.
But, my emotions weren’t just a response to the pain and anguish I saw in Kadhim’s family. I was also overcome with pride. This summer, the ACLU of New Mexico, the ACLU of Michigan and the National ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project filed a nationwide lawsuit that successfully blocked Trump’s scheme to deport more than 1,400 Iraqi refugees. Our lawsuit gave Kadhim and hundreds of others a fighting chance to avoid removal to a country where they would face persecution, torture, or death.
It struck me at that moment how the ACLU can be such a powerful force for basic decency and human dignity, and how critical that really is during times such as these. At its heart, that’s what the Constitution is really about. Protecting our ability to live lives of dignity free from fear.
When I reflect on our work, it strikes me how central these values are to everything we do. Protecting families from being torn apart by inhumane immigration policies, defending a woman’s basic right to make decisions about her body, advocating against police brutality, guarding the rights of religious minorities, standing up to laws that unfairly target people of color and people in poverty—the list goes on. All of this critical work has a real impact on millions of real people like Kadhim and his family.
As you read this newsletter, I hope you share in the sense of pride I feel when I reflect on the ways we continually safeguard the basic dignity of all Americans. After all, the ACLU isn’t just lawyers and policy wonks—it’s the card-carrying members like you who power this organization. Because of the work we do together, Trump and his acolytes are having a lot tougher time stripping us of the dignity and security that is our birthright.
And that’s something worth feeling proud about.