Meet Aron, BAJI’s Paralegal
By, Aron B. Oqubamichael
I always look for opportunities to support the communities that I belong to. Right after my arrival in the US, I used my legal training to volunteer at the International Rescue Committee to support African immigrant communities.
Under the Trump administration, I observed that many Black immigrants were feeling despair and hopelessness as immigration policies and practices became even more anti Black than they had been under previous administrations. We organized community gatherings to uplift the community’s resolve.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only attacked the physical health of Black families’ but it has also caused heavy psychological trauma to many of the Black immigrant families that I work with.
With the closing of borders families were separated due to the suspension of activities by public offices around the globe. Many families remain separated and riddled with uncertainty as to when their reunion will be facilitated.
Many Black immigrant families are not only left without work but many have also lost their ability to work due to the expiration of their immigration documents thanks to government backlogs. Black asylum seekers were kept stranded at the border due to anti Black policies like Title 42 that was deployed as pretext for public health concerns.
It was during the above insurmountable challenges of legal and policy nightmares that I was hired by BAJI to work as a community educator and subsequently paralegal to inform Black immigrant communities of their rights and benefits with deep context. I also work to increase accessibility of services and resources to Black immigrants.
The challenges remain huge, yet the quality and delivery of services have increased at BAJI, and now Black asylum seekers and Black immigrants are accessing direct legal services. I feel proud to join the forces of good at BAJI.