Category: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Champion for Justice
Nominator: Lorraine Goodman
What was their service?
Ed is a Department of Justice Accredited Representative, who began volunteering with LALDEF in January 2019. Each week he donates between 20-30 hours of his time, screening DACA applicants, preparing DACA renewals, handling Special Juvenile Immigration cases, and submitting Citizenship requests. At Solidaridad Central NJ, he helps immigrants seeking asylum prepare for their day in court. I can honestly say that LALDEF would not be able to help the number of clients that we do without his ever-growing knowledge of immigration law and his dedication to his new “mission” in life.
What motivated them to serve/volunteer?
After retiring, Ed decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life aiding our undocumented immigrant neighbors earn the right to stay in our country and become citizens. Ed believes the essential ingredient to our country’s success is a constant infusion and absorption of immigrants into society. He wrote, “From our country’s very beginning, immigrants have brought a diversity of thought and awareness that refreshes and renews our American spirit. It is the very essence of American exceptionalism.”
His Legal Service volunteer work at LALDEF and Solidaridad Central New Jersey has provided invaluable humanitarian support for this vulnerable population.
What did they achieve/how did they make a difference?
When I stepped in as Interim Executive Director, I brought a strong background in development, organizational structure, finance, and governance, but almost no knowledge of immigration law — notoriously one of the most complex areas of the US legal system. I met Ed my first week. Ed has a passionate interest in immigration law and had recently devoted the time necessary to become certified by the Department of Justice — an involved, complex training and application process. Two weeks later, one of the more senior members of LALDEF’s legal department resigned; a week after that, our then Supervising Attorney informed me that she would also be leaving.
LALDEF is small — when fully-staffed, our legal department consists of two legal service consultants and a part-time attorney. Two vacancies was not only destabilizing; it had the potential to be devastating.
Ed was the presence that kept the department afloat. I cannot overstate the value he brought: his growing knowledge of humanitarian immigration law, his support of his colleagues — both of whom are young with much less experience than he has — and his commitment to this organization.
Late last year, when a federal court ruled that new DACA applications would once again be accepted and renewals should be expedited, Ed took on the bulk of this increased workload. This fulfilled the dreams of these young residents of Mercer County that they can stay in the USA – and alleviated the fear that they would be deported to places they never knew.