AILA Hosts Congressional Briefing on Family Immigration

On 3/15/13 at 10:00am ET the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Asian American Justice Center, National Council of La Raza, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and South Asian Americans Leading Together are hosting a briefing on "Family Unity in America's Legal Immigration System."

Generations of immigrants have been coming to the U.S. to reunite with their family and to find new job opportunities. They have made America strong with their contributions. But our immigration system has not kept pace with our nation's needs. The exceptionally long waits for visas-of years or even decades-have forced U.S. citizens to choose between their life in the U.S. or life with their family. These visa backlogs have also hindered or halted business operations. America would be better served by an immigration system that is flexible and capable of meeting the needs of American families, businesses, and the economy. Family reunification has been a cornerstone of the immigration system and keeping families strong is in our nation's interest. Please join our panel for a discussion that will explain America's complex legal immigration system and clarify many of the misconceptions about it.

Mee Moua
President/Executive Director, Asian American Justice Center (Moderator)

Laura Lichter
President, American Immigration Lawyers Association

Blake Chisam
Partner, Fragomen, Del Ray, Bersen and Loewy, LLP; formerly senior counsel to House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee

Nadine Rogers
Client/Petitioner for family-based immigration

Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Mansholt
Central States Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Panelist biographies:

Mee Moua is the president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice). Ms. Moua leads AAJC's efforts to promote civic engagement, forge strong and safe communities, create an inclusive society, and empower Asian Americans and other underserved communities.

Most recently, Ms. Moua served as vice president of strategic impact initiatives for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), a national health justice organization with offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Based in the nation's capital, Ms. Moua managed APIAHF's divisions on policy analysis, political advocacy, strategic communications, and research, evaluation and analysis. Prior to her position at APIAHF, Ms. Moua was a three-term Minnesota State Senator, where she chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and had oversight responsibility for all state agencies in matter related to criminal, civil and administrative law and procedures. Ms. Moua started her legal career in private practice in Minnesota.

Born in Laos, Ms. Moua immigrated to the U.S. in 1978. She attended Brown University as an undergraduate and earned a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Texas-Austin and a law degree from the University of Minnesota.

Laura Lichter is the President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for the 2012-2013 term. Ms. Lichter, is an immigration attorney and expert from Denver, CO, and her practice emphasizes representation of removal aliens, contested family and naturalization applications, administrative appeals, and related Federal litigation. A nationally-recognized expert and mentor, Ms. Lichter is a well-respected author and lecturer. Her commitment to community outreach, education, and access to counsel has been demonstrated by numerous projects, initiatives and pro bono cases over the years.

Ms. Lichter previously chaired the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Liaison Committee as well as AILA's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Liaison Committee. Ms. Lichter graduated cum laude from Swarthmore College and earned a law degree from the University of Colorado.

Blake Chisam is a Partner at in the DC office of Fragomen, Del Ray, Bersen and Loewy, LLP. Mr. Chisam was previously senior counsel to the immigration subcommittee for the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, where he worked on policy and oversight issues related to employment-based immigration, international law, border security, immigration enforcement, refugee issues, naturalization and citizenship. In addition to his former role with the House Judiciary Committee, Blake served as Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics Committee) from 2009-2011, and counsel to the Ethics Committee Chair and Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Zoe Lofgren in 2009. During his tenure, Blake directed an unprecedented number of complex Congressional ethics investigations and served as lead counsel in high-profile House ethics disciplinary hearings.

Prior to his government service, Mr. Chisam practiced immigration and nationality law in the private sector. His practice focused on advising organizations with respect to immigration-related policy, employment issues, and other related matters. Mr. Chisam graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University and earned a law degree from Temple University.

Nadine E. Rogers is a social and behavioral science graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, where her research was awarded the Charles D. Flagle Award for the use of computer technology in HIV prevention among minority adolescents. She holds a PhD in Health Policy and Management, with an emphasis on health education and communication.

She has worked on HIV/AIDS issues in a range of populations, including minority youth, women at risk for HIV infection, persons in the criminal justice system, drug users, and the homeless. Previously, Dr. Rogers spent three years as a member of the start-up team for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a historic initiative that is the largest commitment made by a single nation in response to the AIDS pandemic. Currently, Dr. Rogers is a Scientific Review Officer with the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, where she administers peer review of applications to conduct research on HIV/AIDS prevention and services in populations at risk-for or addicted to drugs. She recently returned from a short-term assignment to support the efforts of the CDC Global AIDS Program in Cambodia.

Dr. Rogers is a native of Trinidad & Tobago and came to the United States as a graduate student. She was later sponsored for permanent residence by a U.S.-based employer and became a U.S. citizen in 1998.

The Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Mansholt, Bishop
Central States Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

In June 2001, the Synod Assembly of Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) elected Gerald L. Mansholt to serve as bishop. He was elected to a second, six-year term at the Synod Assembly in 2007.

Before being elected synod bishop, he had served as pastor of two Oklahoma congregations: First Lutheran Church, Chickasha; and Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, Chickasha. His first pastorate in Central States Synod was Living Christ Lutheran Church, Florissant, Mo. At the time of his election as bishop he was serving as pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita, Kan.

Born in Alton, Ill. on July 6, 1948, Mansholt grew up in Bunker Hill, Ill., and graduated from Concordia Senior College of Fort Wayne, Ind. in 1970 and from Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Mo., where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1974. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago in 1989.

Being a strong advocate for the missional church movement, he has led in the transformation of the synod so that participation in God's mission is at the heart of the synod's life and work. Under his guidance, a new Purpose Statement and Missional Directions have been developed, and he is currently leading the Central States Synod in a comprehensive fund appeal: Changed by Love, Sent in Love, to Serve - Shaping the Church for God's Mission.

Mansholt serves on the Board of Directors of Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan. as well as the board of the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He is a liaison bishop to the ELCA Church Council. He serves on ELCA Immigration Ready Bench and is a staunch supporter for comprehensive immigration reform. Mansholt also chairs the Steering Team of the Missouri Christian Leadership Forum.

Married to Anita, they are the parents of two daughters, Christa and Monica, both married, and grandparents to Sydney, Elliot Marie, and Claire. Anita teaches mathematics at Notre Dame de Sion School in Kansas City, Mo.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13031153.