Legal Aid & Legal Services Forum on the Future in a Trump Era

December 12, 2016

Along with the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, this week we hosted a forum to discuss the effect that Donald Trump’s election will have on organizations and employees that provide free civil and criminal legal services to New York City’s low-income residents. Our panelists discussed the likely effect that Trump and the Republican Congress will have on funding and legislation that affects our clients, and what we as legal services providers can do to mobilize and fight back.

Julie Kushner, Director of UAW Region 9A, expressed her commitment to helping to mobilize the UAW nationally to protect LSC funding, and noted that our region of the UAW has the ability to take the lead on educating our fellow union members and mobilizing them to protect the issues we care about.

Josh Nassar, Legislative Director of the UAW International, took us through the cuts and laws that Trump and the Republicans are expected to try to implement, and the mechanics of how they would accomplish that. He also reminded us that Trump does not have a mandate for an ultra-conservative society, and that just because someone voted for Trump do not necessarily mean that the country wants social services to be gutted.

Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director of the New York State Alliance for Quality Education, noted that communities of color and other minority communities were already under attack before Trump, but that his election has brought these dangers out into the open where more people can see them. She called on us to rebuild a true sense of solidarity, and to hold our politicians accountable by bringing our fight – and our clients – directly to their doorsteps.

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN NY, built on the theme of holding politicians accountable, and called on us to build a broad, intersectional mass movement that addresses all of our issues and mobilizes our collective communities. She warned against making deals with the Republicans, instead advocating a strategy of resistance.

LSSA members Ivan Marchena and Andrea Shang did a fantastic job moderating our panel and skillfully facilitating the questions and responses.

Thank you to all who participated.