Joey and Jeffrey leave in three days.
Fads come and go. Maybe you remember hula hoops, or lava lamps, or Gumby toys, Cabbage Patch Kids, platform shoes, trolls (not the Internet kind), or Tamagotchi pets.
Jeffrey has been practicing immigration law for 36 years. It was not a fad. There were few articles in the newspapers and few people paid attention to refugee issues. Jeffrey won asylum for his first client, a Haitian referred by Human Rights First (then called the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), while Jeffrey worked for a big commercial law firm. Since 1985, Jeffrey’s career focused on defending immigrants.
In those early years, Jeffrey had no Joey. I’m not sure that a judge would have responded favorably to a kangaroo court puppet. But Jeffrey did go to court with clients. Sometimes he brought the clients home. My concerns about a solo bike ride with a stuffed kangaroo were as yet undreamed of. Yet I was worried about who Jeffrey brought from the local immigration jails to stay in our small-town New Jersey home with small children in the house.
This is to say that there has always been some level of worry about Jeffrey and his habit of saving the lives of immigrants who fear being sent home to persecution or death. But it was important to Jeffrey so it was important to me.
I had another reason to support him that is intensely personal.
My father and his family immigrated to the USA in 1937 from Nazi Nuremberg with the kind help of a distant cousin who vouched for them and put money in a bank account to show that the family would not become a “public charge”. Without that help for my dad and his family, the Germans would have killed them all. The U.S. denied a visa to Great Aunt Lena because she was blind. The Germans murdered Lena in a concentration camp.
Unless you belong to one of the First Nations, you have an immigrant history. (So does Donald Trump.) Your relatives left their native land for a better life in the USA and often to escape persecution. For most of our history, the borders were more or less open; it’s easy to be “legal” when there’s no law! Most of the time, the USA actually welcomed immigrants. Go to Ellis Island and see the posters by the shipping companies inviting immigrants to come.
Some Americans are against immigrants for fear of job loss or crime. Never mind that immigrants (as workers, consumers, entrepreneurs) create more jobs than they take, and that they are more law-abiding than native Americans (most crimes are committed by “white” US-born men). Today, with declining birth rates in the USA, we need immigrants more than ever. Who else will clean Donald Trump’s toilets at Mar-a-Lago, pick the crops in California, or work in our hospitals? Not you or me. Not our kids.
Today, immigration is a hot topic in the press and online, popular like the tie-dyed t-shirts and paisley bell bottoms of old. It has elements of a fad. That makes country-boy Jeffrey almost fashionable! On his Rides, Jeffrey talks with people about the law, which few know or understand. Click here and go 4 minutes into the video to hear him speak for 18 minutes about immigration for a religious group last November. Here’s the sheet he gave to the crowd:
This ninth annual Ride with Joey is no fad for Jeffrey. It’s just another year in Jeffrey’s quest for fair treatment of immigrants and for American understanding of immigration law and its effects. Jeffrey’s experience assures him that when Americans know the truth, they want to do the right thing.
It is another year for me to worry about Jeffrey being alone on the road on a bike, three time zones away, with drivers who text or don’t pay attention. When I try and get some sleep (which ain’t easy), Jeffrey is still awake and writing his blog. Typically, at 2 or 3 AM, I read the blog to be sure that Jeffrey and Joey are safe.
I hope you will support the Ride for Human Rights financially (you can donate here to help Human Rights First continue the work that gave Jeffrey his start, and donate here to help the Interfaith Welcome Coalition clean up some of the mess our misguided government policies are making of innocent refugees’ lives). I hope you will sign up at rideforhumanrights.com to get an email with the nightly blog post from the road, and will write comments of support on the blog over the next three weeks to wish our dynamic duo bon voyage and to encourage Jeffrey and Joey on their journey.
And please feel free to drop me a line or give me a call. Jeffrey and I have been friends for 44 years, married for nearly 39 of them. I can’t help worrying about him. I could use a distraction. Maybe there is a new fad we can talk about!