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Prerna Lal
Prerna Lal helped to create a robust network of highly-organized and diverse undocumented youth with digital engagement capacity to fight deportations. Since then, her model of organizing has been used by immigration organizations across the country to end deportations. She is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School, with a Distinguished Accomplishment award in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Prerna has worked as an attorney on family law, complex immigration matters and federal court litigation. She also serves as a consultant on both digital strategy and social movement tactics.

Entries by Prerna Lal

Executive Action on Immigration: Good, Bad and Ugly

(1) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 1:40 PM

On the day of President Obama's immigration announcement, I went to bed late at night, doing a mental checklist of everyone I know who qualifies and does not qualify under the President's immigration action. As a community advocate and formerly undocumented immigrant who fought for this change, the word that...

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'Strong Year-End Executive Action' on Immigration: Legally Sound and Politically Helpful

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 9:47 AM

President Obama's constant wavering on executive action on immigration has frustrated many immigrant rights organizers who are continuing to request action without further delay. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi has now chimed in to suggest that delaying executive action would allow for a stronger year-end action. After President Obama's...

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Boycott the White House: The Pathway to Citizenship Begins With Self-Representation

(22) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 8:51 AM


This week, grassroots leaders from the immigrant rights movement went to several D.C. organizations with a simple request: Stop negotiating with the White House on behalf of directly impacted immigrant communities.

Convening in front of the White House this week, immigrant leaders...

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India's Supreme Court Re-Criminalizes Gay Sex

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 8:10 AM

In a shocking decision, the Indian Supreme Court has reversed the July 2009 ruling of the Delhi High Court decriminalizing gay sex between consenting adults. In doing so, the Indian Supreme Court has re-criminalized gay sex in India, rendering almost 20 percent of the global LGBT population...

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A Laundry List of What President Obama Can Do On Immigration

(1) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 11:00 AM

"There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless.' There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard."
-Arundhati Roy

Ju Hong's "yelling" to issue an executive order to stop deportations echoed across the country, and has sparked a series of actions mostly calling on the president to use his executive authority to stop deportations. Over 500 national organizations (and growing), including the Mexican American Legal and Education Defense Fund, United We DREAM, the National Day Labor Organizing Network and AFL-CIO, have signed on to a letter asking the president to exercise discretion in stopping his deportations. Even House Democrats joined the chorus, with 29 House Democrats signing a letter to the president to suspend deportations and expand DACA:

If your child has received DACA, you should not be deported. If you qualify for legalization under the Senate bill -- a bill the president and the rest of the country supports -- you should not be deported. We cannot continue to witness potential citizens in our districts go through the anguish of deportation when legalization could be just around the corner for them. We look to you to firmly contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA.

President Barack Obama said during a trip to New Orleans, "We should be fighting to make sure everybody who works hard in America, and hard right here in New Orleans, that they have a chance to get ahead." However, instead of trying to reduce deportations, the Obama Administration is piloting a new, unprecedented and extraordinarily harsh effort to hunt down and deport thousands of hardworking undocumented immigrants in New Orleans.

The Obama Administration's hypocrisy on immigration knows no limits. Instead of taking action, the president would rather hide behind the "rule of law" discourse, and pretend that he doesn't have power to do anything. Invoking the "rule of law" is not only disingenuous but dangerous because it is used to quell the demands of the lesser privileged for real, tangible, social change. President Obama says he can't stop deportations because it isn't within his powers. Yet, he finds it within his power to carry out mass surveillance, drone attacks, topple regimes, and order extra-judicial killings.

However, short of placing a moratorium on deportations, there are many things the Administration can do to relief the pressure on immigrant families across the country that are well within executive powers. These include:

  • Detention: Redefine "in custody" as inclusive of ankle-monitoring programs, in order to let people--62 percent of whom have no criminal records--out of detention;

  • Enforce existing memos that allow for parole of asylum seekers who have passed their credible fear interviews;

  • Stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) assault against undocumented law school graduates such as Sergio Garcia, Caesar Vargas, and so on;

  • Issue "Notice to Appear in Removal Proceedings" only in the most severe criminal cases, which would reduce the immigration court docket over time by more than 60 percent;

  • Work on crafting a narrower definition of "aggravated felon" -- a catch-all phrase that now includes both serial rapists and lawful permanent residents who have committed non-violent crimes in the past;

  • Put an end to Secure Communities (S-COMM), an administrative deportation program that targets persons with minor criminal records, and has led to the ICE detention of over 3000 U.S. citizens;

  • Roll back new harsh effort "Criminal Alien Removal Initiative";

  • Pardon prior re-entry;

  • Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to cover all childhood arrivals rather than place an arbitrary age cap;

  • Stop assault on lawful permanent resident parents by giving full meaning to the Child Status Protection Act so that thousands of young people, including many Dreamers, can finally reunite with their parents.

And the list goes on. Last week, a judge ruled that the president's uncle, Omar Obama, could stay in the U.S.

But justice is nowhere in sight for those of us with no ties to the president, our...

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Immigration Reform Is Dead But We Must Continue to Push Forward

(26) Comments | Posted November 14, 2013 | 4:12 PM

The Not One More Campaign
An image from the "The Not One More" Campaign. Credit: NotOneMoreDeportation

As an undocumented organizer, it pains me deeply to write this, but it is abundantly clear from various sources, including the Hill and leading...

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But We Are Criminals: Countering the Anti-Racial Justice Framework of Immigration Reform

(59) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 2:20 PM

He can be known as the Abraham Lincoln of undocumented immigrants. But thus far, President Obama's record on immigration is depressing and dismal.

The first black president has deported more brown people than any other President in U.S. history.

For someone working on building a racial justice movement, one...

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Why I Support the Bring Them Home Campaign

(37) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 11:48 AM

Several immigrant youth, who have been leaders in the undocumented youth movement in the United States, have crossed the border into Mexico, and plan to turn themselves in alongside other undocumented youth who left or were deported from the United States at a border crossing. With applications for legal...

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Now We Are Stealing American Spouses Too

(2) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 5:59 PM

As if being accused of stealing American jobs was not enough, today I was offered a full-time, unpaid offer to marry my wonderful, beautiful, sweet U.S. citizen partner.

This was inspired, in part, by the decision of the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA as unconstitutional, but also because...

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Why I Sat Down In the D.C. Mayor's Office for One City, One License

(2) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 5:11 PM

Last week, Mayor Vincent Gray of the District of Columbia, introduced a new bill to allow undocumented residents of the District to obtain driver's licenses and ID cards. This legislation might represent a great step forward for equality and safety in D.C., except that Mayor...

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Senate Immigration Bill - The Good, Bad and Ugly

(11) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 3:13 PM

The Senate immigration bill dropped last night and I've finally done a quick-read through. These are my initial thoughts about the legislation -

The Good

  • DREAM Act - No age cap on the DREAM Act, which would allow anyone who was brought here before the age...
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How Pinkwashing Masks the Retrograde Effects of Immigration Reform

(10) Comments | Posted April 15, 2013 | 1:58 PM

Co-authored by Justin Feldman

As marchers for immigrant rights took on Capitol Hill last week, some of us saw the return of the Human Rights Campaign's "equal sign" logo, which had adorned countless Facebook profiles in late March during the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality. But on their return,...

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Moving Beyond the 'Illegal Immigrant'

(7) Comments | Posted April 4, 2013 | 1:43 PM

This week, the Associated Press announced that it would stop using the phrase "illegal immigrant" to describe an individual present in the U.S. illegally, or who entered the country without proper authorization. This is a great victory for the long history of organizing against the word "illegal" beginning...

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How Queer Undocumented Youth Built the Immigrant Rights Movement

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2013 | 5:03 PM

How did we build an immigrant rights movement? As undocumented queer immigrants, we learned from our own experiences.

Frank Sharry's latest opinion piece in The Washington Post extols the gay rights movement for teaching the immigrant rights movement how to fight, and in doing so, he places himself...

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How the GOP Can Win on Immigration Reform

(43) Comments | Posted February 22, 2013 | 3:17 PM

Republicans are going to become increasingly irrelevant in national politics unless they do something about their waning support among the nation's fastest growing voting bloc: Latinos.

Thus far, they have tamed down the extreme rhetoric considerably and many in the leadership ranks have come out in support of...

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Obama's Words on Immigration Reform Fall Short

(12) Comments | Posted February 4, 2013 | 9:37 AM

Sometimes, reforming the immigration system means fully implementing existing laws on the book.

During his much-awaited immigration speech in Las Vegas, the president spoke, in part, of fixing the legal immigration system such that "if you are a citizen, you shouldn't have to wait years before your family...

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'Gang of 8' Senate Blueprint Provides No Real Pathway to Citizenship

(6) Comments | Posted January 29, 2013 | 5:41 PM

I'm the same-sex partner of a U.S. citizen, a daughter to lawful permanent residents, grand-daughter of a U.S. citizen, a sibling to a U.S. citizen, and so on. I'm about to graduate with a law degree from one of America's best law schools. Least I forget, for two years now,...

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The Right Thing To Do

(47) Comments | Posted June 19, 2012 | 5:42 PM

President Obama took a stand last Friday to stop deporting certain young people from the United States and allow them the right to live and work here. Behind his pronouncement was a simple idea - that deferred action for a certain class of young people was...

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The Government Has to Do a Much Better Job if It Wants to Deport Me

(49) Comments | Posted June 14, 2012 | 7:40 AM

The federal government has finally started to review the many deportation cases backlogged in Bay Area immigration court with the hope of closing down cases deemed a low-priority for deportation. My own deportation case is among the ones undergoing review. But if we are offered prosecutorial discretion, we...

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