When something like President Trump’s executive order on border security and immigration comes along and people mobilize to help, there is a need to organize those who need help, those who can help, and provide information and resources for everyone. So in the aftermath of the executive order, lawyers were flooding the American Immigration Lawyers Association with offers of help, and other groups of lawyers were trying to find travelers in need of that help.
ImmigrationJustice.US was the ABA Law Practice Division Futures Initiative‘s answer to AILA’s problem. Over the weekend, they asked us to help set up a WordPress website, then started adding sign-up forms for volunteers. Fastcase’s Ed Walters and Avvo’s Dan Lear assembled immigration law resources from AILA’s website and elsewhere, added immigration law case summaries with links to immigration cases on Fastcase. On Monday, the ABA announced the new website and model for rapidly deploying resources to help in response to an emergency.
Going forward, AILA and the American Immigration Council will take over the website and use it to help find and support volunteers and provide information to the public. I assume it will also expand to offer more information and provide updates to lawyers and the public. The ABA intends to use the process as a template for future quick-response websites.
On the other side of the country, a group of Washington immigration lawyers and technology companies worked together to build Airport Lawyer, a web app powered by Neota Logic for reporting new arrivals who need help. At first Airport Lawyer was just forSeattle-Tacoma International (SeaTac) arrivals, but it quickly expanded to cover Baltimore-Washington International (BWI), Denver International, and Washington Dulles International. More airports are being added as local groups ask for it.
I talked briefly (via Slack) with Greg McLawsen, an immigration lawyer and the other of Sound Immigration, to get an idea of how the web app works. All the information entered into the form is stored securely. Each airport has a “supervisor” who gets an email notification when a new arrival is entered, and they can log into the app to see the information about that arrival.
Going forward, Airport Lawyer hopes to add more airports, and potentially some triage capabilities to the web app for on-site lawyers.
Websites Are Now a Basic Tool
Both projects go to show that building an informational or information-gathering website can be a basic tool in a lawyer’s toolbox. There’s more to making such a website useful, obviously. But even just building a website used to take several committees, a substantial budget, and weeks or months at least. As Ed Walters of Fastcase, who worked on ImmigrationJustice.US, pointed out:
We’re getting there. All these sites took was a handful of willing volunteers and a weekend.