How It All Began

Josh Koenigsberg looked upon the rise in the number of immigration practitioners with the influx of such a select group of former government employees as an omen. It was an opportunity to organize into a bar association and utilize the professional standing of this new group as a springboard from which to elevate the standard and reputation of the practitioner appearing before the Immigration Service as counsel for the alien.

Josh called a meeting at his office, then located at 15 Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan, which was attended by 19 people including himself. Twelve of them were recently discharged Immigration Service lawyers, including Joseph Blank, Edward Dubroff, William Gurock, Gustav Lazarus, Harry Meizel, George Moerman, Morris Solomon, Anita Streep, Max Wolofsky, Morris Vogel, Jacob Kweller, and Arthur Schapira; the six others were old-timers, Sebastian Caputi, Gaspare M. Cusumanno, Jacob W. Rozinsky, Minerva Salzman, Haskell Barst, and Nathan Sinkman. All agreed with the purpose of which the meeting was called, and the drafting of a certification of incorporation under the Membership Corporation Laws of the State of New York began.

The certification of incorporation was filed on November 22, 1946. The certificate provided for a board of directors of not less than seven, nor more than 25, and named 17 directors until the first annual meeting, namely Joseph Blank, Haskell Barst, Sebastian Caputi, Gaspare Cusumano, Edward Dubroff, William Gurock, Josh Koenisberg, Gustav Lazarus, Harry Meizel, George Moerman, Jacob Rozinsky, Minerva Salzman, Arthur Schapira, Nathan Sinkman, Morris Solomon, Anita Streep, and Max Wolofsky.

The purpose of the association, framed after careful and meaningful consideration and discussion reads:

  • To cultivate the science of jurisprudence; promote reforms in the law; facilitate the administration of justice; elevate the standard of integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession; cherish the spirit of brotherhood among the members thereof; and

  • To advance the science of the administration of law pertaining to immigration, nationality and naturalization; promote reforms in the law with regard thereto; facilitating the administration of justice thereunder, and elevating the standard of integrity, honor and courtesy of those appearing in a representative capacity in immigration, nationality and naturalization matters.

The second clause is the product of the distasteful and disagreeable conditions with which immigration attorneys were confronted in their appearances before the various branches of the Service. The need to promote the just administration of law pertaining to immigration and nationality matters was felt deeply. There was a need to reform and to improve the administration of the immigration laws and, above all, to improve and develop a higher degree of courtesy and respect for the legal representatives of aliens appearing before the Service.

On the filing of the certificate of incorporation, election of officers was held. To Josh Koenigsberg-the founding father-went the honor of being elected as first present, and to Anita Streep, the mantle of secretary of the association. The office of vice present went to Gaspare Cusumano, and that of treasurer to Daniel Caputi.

From AILA's Sixty Years of Service… Sixty Years of Excellence pamphlet

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 17070539.