Q&A With Staff Attorney Anne Jang

Q : What were you doing prior to joining RILA?
A : I was primarily a stay-at-home parent for the past couple years, though I still occasionally took on legal work on a contract basis for a small appellate litigation firm. Before that, my most recent full-time employment was as a law clerk for a federal judge on the D.C. Circuit, following stints as a law clerk for a federal district court judge in Boston and as a litigation associate at a large law firm in D.C. That firm had a very robust pro bono practice, particularly in the area of immigration. As a young associate, I had the chance to work on VAWA petitions and an asylum case, getting a crash course in those topics along the way. Helping my client and his family secure asylum after numerous legal setbacks was, without a doubt, the most rewarding work I did while at the firm.

Q : What are some of the hardest struggles our clients face?
A : I think the hardest struggle our clients face is wrestling with and healing from the trauma that they've suffered. Our clients have fled from truly dangerous situations in their home countries. They've experienced and witnessed horrific things; lived through threats, assaults, extortion, torture, and worse; survived harrowing journeys to the U.S.; and encountered mistreatment, discrimination, and uncertainty once here. But even after the urgency of those circumstances has dissipated -- even after, say, a client has successfully received asylum and is now living safely in the U.S. -- there is still the difficult road ahead of grappling with the mental, emotional, and spiritual toll of everything they've endured. And unfortunately, I don't know that many of our clients have the luxury of time, energy, and resources to really devote to that healing process.

Q : What about this work encourages you?
A: I am blown away by the courage of our clients, that they have somehow found the hope and strength to pursue a better life for themselves and their families despite tremendous obstacles along the way. I am also so encouraged by the dedication of RILA's staff and volunteers. The people who offer their time and skills here feel passionately about serving our clients and being conduits of love, care, and justice to the newest members of our community.

Q : How has your experience here so far affected you?
A : I have been learning so much from my work with RILA! Not simply about the ins and outs of immigration law (though there has been plenty of learning on that front), but about people and hope and justice . . . and God. There are some days where it's very easy for me to get bogged down in the horror and tragedy of our clients' stories, or to feel such sorrow and hopelessness about the dire situations from which they fled. Or to get angry and frustrated about unjust aspects of our country's immigration system and policies. But I am constantly reminded at RILA that God is greater -- greater not only than the sin and darkness we encounter in our world, but greater also than our limited capacity to love and fight and "fix" what is wrong. God sees RILA, and He sees our clients. And ultimately He is able to provide the safety, healing, and justice that we all long for and need.

Anne joined RILA in June as our Staff Attorney. She currently lives in Alexandria with her husband and two young children.

Mel Chang