It’s a cold wet afternoon to begin 2017 in California. We’ve made it through the holidays, but there is a tension in the air about the upcoming change in administration. These are times of uncertainty for all of us, but especially for the immigrants I serve. The panic is permeating the immigrant community and even young children fear for their family’s future. I have not publicly spoken much until now about my perspective of what the new President will bring, or take away.

While I agree that we are facing uphill battles and anti-immigrant laws and policies in the near future, I also know that the scariest time is now. Now is uncertain. We do not know what will happen next. We do not know what will happen to the existing benefits immigrants have enjoyed such as the DACA program. We do not know if other programs and law are on the chopping block. We do not know if “mass deportations” will be a reality.

As immigration attorneys, we are able to point out details of which laws can be changed, which programs can be destroyed, and what can happen to our clients for the worse. And this just fuels our collective fear. Communities are afraid and organizations are working hard to assuage this fear. But the reality is that the reason for fear is uncertainty. Living with uncertainty is a skill that is difficult to master given our human condition. The body and mind are built to defend themselves or flee. And in times of uncertainty, our nervous system is agitated because there is no way of knowing what will happen next.

These are trying times, I agree. And for your immigration case, do seek out expert advice. But please understand that the advice will be one version of many versions of how to prepare. We may have to choose between taking risks now to preserve opportunities, or do nothing for fear of making things worse. And we don’t know which option is best.

We do know we can accept the not knowing, and continue to contribute however we know how. This may be through taking care of others, ourselves, doing a good job at work, or volunteering our time to something bigger than our own daily lives. We do have a purpose and in times of uncertainty, like now, is a good time to find it.

Leave a Comment