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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    him and he said Okay I ll help you do this everything changed with Esther From the minute we walked out of the Senator s office together she started teaching us showing us filling in backstories making introductions to all sorts of impossible people we d never have met any other way and most fantastically of all just being her perfectly natural self with us whether there was a camera in her face or lap or not Esther transformed almost instantly into our essential star And we could not have been luckier Plenty of people have felt lucky to meet or work with Esther Her long time deputy Janice Kaguyutan has a funny story about meeting Senator Kennedy for her own job interview and raving on about her excitement over the opportunity to work with Esther Before joining Senator Kennedy s staff Esther had worked for years as an attorney for immigrants and refugees in Miami She and her family were refugees who left Cuba when she was a child Esther practiced at the Haitian Refugee Center and at Legal Services of Greater Miami before co founding the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center But when Congress passed a set of laws which were particularly harsh toward immigrant families in 1996 Esther decided the best way to help a great number of people would be to help change the law So she came to Capitol Hill to Fix 96 as the campaign slogan said â In Senator Kennedy s office the obvious part of her job was to write immigration legislation whether it focused on a small matter or something as big as comprehensive reform the less evident corollary to writing bills was her work at the staff level to find the support for whatever deal would be necessary for a given

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/esther-olavarria (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    Utah and a juris doctorate in 1998 from the University of Miami School of Law From 2003 to March 2008 Judge Pead served as an assistant U S attorney in Salt Lake City From 2002 to 2003 and from 1999 to 2001 he worked as an attorney advisor at the BIA From 2001 to 2002 Judge Pead served as immigration counsel Committee on the Judiciary U S Senate From 1998

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/dustin-pead (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    EWIC was double sided to join forces to lobby for business side in any future immigration reform and to galvanize the business community to support prospective immigration legislation that would further EWIC s aim A lot of EWIC s members were and are still lobbyists Laura is the immigration lawyer in the group and she s been essential to EWIC from the start In her own practice at Greenberg Traurig she focuses on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U S and foreign companies as well as related employment compliance and legislative issues So when it came to advising Senate or House offices on legislative language it was always Laura who was drafted to do the work But at EWIC everyone s focus is on legislative policy upcoming and underway and that s what kept us returning to film their meetings again and again The EWIC meetings were fantastically informative and even more fun to watch so many very smart very plugged in people with deep experience on and around Capitol Hill all trying to piece together what each of them knew to figure out what was actually happening at any given moment and ideally how to influence whatever it was to be better It was nothing like the stereotyped version of lobbyists in the back room you might expect but Laura and Randy and John often were at the table when legislation was being drafted They were happy to offer their experience about what was likely to work in real world terms to staffers working on a deal And Laura s experience in particular made her a trusted resource for many an office Over the years we kept shooting through the very many bills that were proposed and launched in that time Laura and EWIC remained flexible always looking

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/laura-foote-reiff (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    Department of Justice that s a little bit like an inter governmental sabbatical and a situation we found intriguing He had such a strong interest in the personal side of immigration policies he really got into the job as a staffer We loved how conscious he was of the privilege of working in the Senate he never took the job for granted Being a staffer can mean a lot of

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/patrick-shen (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    heard about HERE and its President John Wilhelm as another pro immigrant force within the AFL CIO but now HERE and Tom were getting sucked in to a policy fight in D C It was a high stakes moment Kennedy s bill was being sabotaged by the AFL CIO while the partisan hijinks of the election year were looming but Tom and HERE had just pulled off the biggest immigrant rights mobilization the country had ever seen As Tom found out what the DC advocates had been up to he lifted the curtain for us on how the AFL CIO really operates Expectations that HERE could come up with a quick fix were misplaced but Tom s plan proved much more effective It was the start of a beautiful friendship so to speak Tom and HERE evolved into a major force for CIR in Washington Tom joined the board of directors of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform CCIR also known as CCIR NAOC or New American Opportunity Campaign is a non profit immigrant rights advocacy organization based in Washington DC These days Tom is Chief of Staff for UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm It s been a very tumultuous

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/tom-snyder (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    a staffer for Sen Dianne Feinstein who was Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism Technology and Homeland Security LaVita was working with her Republican counterpart from the Terrorism Subcommittee Elizabeth Maier and two staffers from the Immigration Subcommittee Esther Olavarria and David Neal Watching LaVita and her colleagues we learned a lot about the dynamics between cosponsors LaVita s boss and Elizabeth s boss are from opposite sides of the aisle but they are both from border states they both are focused on terrorism and they are good friends Over the years we saw that when Senators have that kind of connection it s usually stronger than party ties but it was LaVita and Elizabeth who first let us in on that Senate secret Sen Feinstein is known in the Senate as someone who makes up her mind on a case by case basis particularly with immigration bills which sometimes complicated LaVita s negotiations After the Border Security Bill we crossed paths with LaVita quite a bit till she left the Hill in late 2003 to work for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops LaVita is now LaVita Strickland LeGrys and is back in government service as Assistant

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/lavita-strickland (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    Margaret Klessing and Becky Jensen about possibly cosponsoring a bill with their bosses Michael was Legislative Director for Rep Silvestre Reyes a Texas Democrat and former Border Patrol Agent and that summer s most sought after cosponsor for immigration bills Michael had to figure out which legislation would be best for his boss to cosponsor not only what policy was best but what was best politically It seemed like the whole town was calling him trying to push him on or off of Rep Kolbe and Rep Flake s bill At that point we d been primarily filming in the relative calm of the Senate Judiciary Committee so this kind of full court press was a change of pace for us Michael took it all in stride and taught us a lot about how someone as powerful as Rep Reyes operates in the House In the years that followed Michael s work didn t bring him into the stories we were filming which we regret to this day he was a lot of fun Michael started on Capitol Hill as a staffer for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 2001 fresh from a high profile campaign victory with Rep Adam Schiff

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/michael-torra (2016-04-27)
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  • Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants
    lesbian gay bisexual and transgender LGBT people Vu s position is the first of its kind for an LGBT organization and sets an ambitious mark for HRC to unite the strength of its 750 000 members and supporters with people of all races and backgrounds to end discrimination and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all She is currently leading an effort to bring the LGBT and Latino immigrant community together to support each other s concerns A refugee from Viet Nam Cuc spent more than a decade in the labor movement working on cross cutting issues including comprehensive immigration reform equal pay for women workers rights and civic participation At the Service Employees International Union the fastest growing and largest healthcare union in the country Vu s leadership on immigration issues helped to establish SEIU as the most effective union on immigration issues according to the Washington Post Cuc is still deeply connected to the immigrant community She serves as President of the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and Secretary of the board of the Civic Participation Campaign two national nonprofit organizations that she co founded with her mentor Eliseo Medina Cuc s story is

    Original URL path: http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/participants/cuc-vu (2016-04-27)
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