Pro Bono Work Brings Law Students to Fort McCoy to Help Afghans Seek Asylum

An edited version of this piece appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on December 30, 2021.

Fort McCoy — Write down every detail of what happened to you in Afghanistan that makes you want to never go back. Write down everything you remember.

Law students Ciara Hudson and Allison Childs meet with an Afghan woman at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, to help with her immigration work.

“I don’t want to remember,” the young woman said matter-of-factly in English.

For this, you have to remember, said Malin Ehrsam, one of two Marquette University Law School students on the other side of a table. Then, when you are done, you can forget.

For the Afghan “guests,” as they are officially called, remembering is crucial – remembering the threats, the fear, the deaths or torture of relatives, the ominous daily events, the abrupt and chaotic flight about four months ago from Afghanistan, where the government had collapsed and the Taliban had taken over. After various stops, the journey brought about 13,000 of them to Fort McCoy, a military base near Tomah in central Wisconsin.

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Black Immigrants, Part of the New American Story

[For Black History Month, we invited some of our alumni to provide their reflections as guest bloggers of the month. This post is from Emil Ovbiagele L’14.]

The American story is an unfolding tale. A rich and diverse story still being crafted. There are chapters we ought to celebrate with fervent praise. There are pages where it hurts to look. And most importantly, there are  more exciting narratives yet to be fully told.

Since the 1970s, February has been designated as Black History Month. But as America experiences seismic demographic changes, it is important to examine the breadth and depth of what constitutes black America. Specifically, the stories, struggles, and accomplishments of black immigrants, who as of 2016 account for 18% of the overall black American population, must be weaved into the unfolding American story.

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Tastemaker Spotlight: Interview with Isioma Nwabuzor, the DREAMer Next Door

I recently had the privilege of interviewing an incredible colleague — and friend — Isioma Nwabuzor. This intelligent, passionate, and compassionate woman has served as a role model for many youth of color in the Milwaukee’s legal and social communities.  Please enjoy her thoughts and insight into the good work she is doing for our city and for the future of the legal profession.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Isioma Nwabuzor and I am a transactional attorney at Baird. I am originally from Nigeria, West Africa, but was raised and lived in Milwaukee for as long as I can remember. I am a member of several professional and/or service organizations, including Rotary International, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Association of Corporate Counsel.

How has your journey to and through the legal profession been influenced by your life and roots?

My maternal grandfather was a high-court judge in the country of Nigeria. I come from a long line of attorneys on my mother’s side, so my family always jokes that my inclination towards a career in the legal profession is hereditary. However, from a different facet, all that I am motivates me to give a voice to the voiceless. My experiences as a member of several minority demographics (I’m a Black woman and an immigrant) has inspired a passion and fight in me that, I believe, lends itself well to adversarial careers, such as the legal profession.

Tell us about Dreamer Next Door, your new 501(c)(3).

The DREAMer Next Door, Incorporated is a non-profit organization that was borne from my TEDx Talk of the same name.

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