We Educate the Public About Immigration and Constitutional Law
One of the most important contributions Immigrants First makes is educating the public about immigration and constitutional law. We believe it is critical to understand the basics of immigration law because it affects millions of immigrants, their families and employers. The ripple effect of who is touched by immigration is enormous. We also believe that a free country is founded on an educated public, especially when it comes to understanding their constitutional rights.
Over the years we have performed hundreds of trainings to thousands of people: immigrants and U.S. citizens; lawyers, judges and law enforcement; religious, political and community leaders; and students and teachers from elementary school to university doctoral programs. We are regularly asked to train lawyers at bar association conferences, we teach courses at universities and law schools, we give presentations to community organizations and adult education institutes, and we are frequently interviewed by the press on immigration.
Representative Trainings and Events
- Testified before Congressional committee on border conditions
- Publishing an immigration basics handbook through the Virginia Bar Association
- Filmed training for the Virginia Bar Association on Criminal Immigration Law
- Appeared in and cooperated behind the scenes of 9500 Liberty Street, a documentary on the effect of immigration enforcement on a community in Northern Virginia
- Panelist on Women in Conflict Zones, hosted by University of Maryland Amnesty International Chapter
- Annual trainer on Immigration Law and Updates, hosted by Life Long Learning Institute, Manassas, VA
- Panelist, Immigration Law Issues, hosted by The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VA
- Speaker on Women’s Human Rights, hosted by the Women’s March, Winchester, VA
- Moderator and Panelist on HIV/AIDS and Violence Against Women, hosted by Amnesty International, Washington, D.C.
- Panelist for two Amnesty regional conferences: Reproductive Rights as Human Rights, hosted by Amnesty International, College Park, MD, and Violence Against Women, hosted by Amnesty International, Washington, D.C.
- Panelist on immigration issues for Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project Advocate Training, Washington, D.C.
- Panelist on Women and Human Rights, hosted by Public Leadership Education Network, Washington, D.C.
- Speaker on Know Your Immigration Rights, hosted by the Council of American Muslim Professionals, area mosques, churches and synagogues
- Trainer on How to Work With the Media in Trafficking and Other Sensitive Situations, hosted by Vital Voices Global Partnership and Internews Network
- Presenter, Rape as a Human Rights Violation, hosted by Women’s Law Network, and Hogan & Hartson, LLP, Washington, D.C.
- Organizer for one-day training on Family Law Basics in Domestic Violence Claims and Safety Planning and Economic Empowerment for Domestic Violence Victims, Washington, D.C.
- Trainer for three-day, USAID-Funded workshop for 30 Russian NGO Leaders on domestic violence, trafficking, discrimination against women, the history of the women’s movement, self-empowerment and NGO capacity building issues, hosted by Femina, Tatarstan, Russia
- Presenter on The Global Epidemic of Human Trafficking, hosted by Dallas Bahai Center, Dallas, TX
- Presenter on Female Genital Mutilation, hosted by Zonta International, Atlantic City, NJ
- Organizer on Safety Planning for Domestic Violence Victims and Service Providers, community center, Falls Church, VA
- Panelist, The Comfort Women Then and Now: From Exploitation to Empowerment, hosted by the Free Library of Philadelphia for the Debut of Lines of Violation Sculpture Commemorating the Comfort Women of WWII, Philadelphia, PA
- Panelist, Trafficking Basics for Law Enforcement, hosted by Fairfax County Police Department, Fairfax, VA
- Panelist for Women’s Human Rights Issues, hosted by Women’s Information Network of Washington, D.C.
- Frequently consulted by international, national and local press on immigration issues, including the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Al Jazeera, Fox News, Laura Ingraham, Kobo Nambe Show, NPR, national and local TV outlets, and academic studies by various institutions including George Mason University
What People Say About Our Trainings
I am writing to pass on sincere thanks and appreciation for your willingness to meet recently with participants in a U.S. Department of State sponsored International Visitor Program titled, Combating Trafficking in People. The group was delighted that you were able to meet with them and described your briefing as extremely enlightening and informative. They were struck by the engaging and candid manner in which the meeting was conducted, and cited it as one of several highlights of the Washington phase of the Program. I am certain that the visitors will long remember their visit to the United States, thanks in large measure to your efforts on their behalf. I am delighted that you were available to assist with the project and look forward to the possibility of working with you again on future U.S. Department of State sponsored International Visitor Programs.
– U.S. Department of State Program Officer
I really enjoyed your presentation today at the International Organization of Migration. For me, you communicated the scope of the [trafficking] problem and its nuances in an accessible and captivating way. Your comments regarding the competition between “employer” and employee” for a seat at the patriarchal table were particularly interesting.
– Attendee from Human Rights Law Group
I would like to thank you again for your help in making the Comfort Women Then and Now seminar such a success. We were thrilled to have over 100 people in attendance, for the dinner and subsequent lecture. The stories of you work and experiences brought to life the current terrors that women around the world are facing. It was truly enlightening to have you address us at the Free Library [of Philadelphia].
– President, Women’s Development Institute International
You’re great Lisa, and taught us all a lot today.
– President, Vital Voices
We really appreciate the contribution made by Lisa Johnson-Firth [now Lisa Shea]. She is a competent lawyer, a top-level expert. Her participation enriched the seminar, and all our trainees are interested in our continued cooperation.
– President, Femina, Russia Vital Voices Global Partnership
Lisa, thank you so much for helping us with our Belarusian journalists and making their training in DC a fulfilling experience. With your expertise and insight, you added tremendous substance to the technical instruction provided by our media trainer, which was absolutely wonderful in terms of giving our participants a full picture in addition to providing them with skills to cover the issue as journalists. So, many thanks, once again.
– Program Associate for the NIS Region, Internews Network
Lisa’s legal skills are excellent. She is thorough in her consideration of an issue, creative in her assessment of possible remedies, and wonderfully articulate in her advocacy writing.
– Executive Director of National Women’s Rights Advocacy Organization
Lisa! What you have written is just superb! How can we publish some of this? We should consider writing an article based on how to provide such legal services, as it would attract national attention. Don’t get tired of my expression of appreciation, I feel it from the bottom of my heart.
– Executive Director of Local Immigrants’ Rights Center
Thank you for presenting at DVRP’S Advocates Program training. The information you provided was invaluable and will ensure that our advocates will provide quality services to community members. We look forward to working with you in the future.
– DVRP Executive Director
Lisa, thank you so much for coming all the way up here for our event! We were so happy you came and served as a discussant for our Q&A session. I’m still reeling from the event. SO MANY PEOPLE! I counted 60 who stayed for the discussion – for us, that alone is a pretty big event. I’m also really glad that our Amnesty Stop Violence Against Women Coordinator got a chance to meet you. She came to our meeting the week after you presented and was just astonished at the crimes against women around the world such as acid burnings, rapes, sexual crimes, honor killings, etc. She has turned the information into really positive, creative energy. I think especially after the event and meeting you she will feel like she is part of a big, successful movement. You not only contributed to a terrific event – one of our best ever, if not our best – but you also helped strengthen our group internally and promote us to the university community. Thank you, so much.
– Amnesty International Coordinator
Prior to founding MIRECS, I served in the Sierra Leone Foreign Services in various diplomatic posts for many years and worked tirelessly to advance human and civil rights.
I have known of Ms. Johnson-Firth’s [now Lisa Shea] fine reputation for commitment and excellence in the nonprofit sector through her work as the director of legal services for two outstanding nonprofits assisting trafficked and abused women and through Ms. Johnson-Firth’s public speaking engagements. Ms. Johnson-Firth is an exceedingly competent lawyer and professional; she brings heart to her work. She has a quick mind, great ambition and is passionate about caring for all those with whom she works, be they clients or colleagues.
– Executive Director of Migrant and Refugee Cultural Support, Inc. (MIRECS)
Ms. Johnson-Firth [now Lisa Shea], I am originally from West Africa and I am student from the Northern VA Community College. You presented in my domestic violence class last Thursday and I was simply amazed by the whole presentation. You captivated my attention as soon as you spoke and it was actually one of the best presentations I have ever attended.
– Student Participant in Seminar on Trafficking
I wanted to thank you again for presenting for today’s Brown Bag lunch.
You have a marvelous way of stringing thoughts together for maximum impact… while creating buy-in! Needless to say I am so pleased…and believe that your talk will have lasting impact.
– Domestic Violence Advocate, ACTS/Turning Points
Once more an outstanding presentation! Your topics are always eye opening, watching student faces it was apparent some were shocked. I hope you will continue to do these presentations. Thank you so much for taking the time to come and speak to my Domestic Violence Class.
– Adjunct Professor, Retired Police Officer, Northern VA Community College
On behalf of the Virginia Advisory Committee and the Eastern Regional Office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, thank you for appearing before the Committee’s public briefing on the Prince William Resolution on Illegal Immigration - held on December 14, 2007. The proceedings established an important record on this matter, and helped to highlight the need to establish policies and practices that are non-discriminatory. Thank you again for your contribution to this review.
– Director, Eastern Regional Office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
I want to say thank you very much for your role as a panelist for Amnesty’s Youth Activist Kollege. I want to take this opportunity to recognize the role you played in making the program such a success. With your help in the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Panel the participants acquired a lasting appreciation for Amnesty International’s work, as well as the motivation and skills to be leaders in their local AIUSA chapters. Your contribution is recognized by the staff of the National Training Program.
– Director of Training, Amnesty International USA
– Executive Director of Local Immigrant’s Rights Organization
Thank you so much for taking the time to grace the Public Leadership Education Network participants with your presence. I have acquired so much more knowledge in foreign affairs from your presentation. I am indebted to you for that.
I’m interested in structural adjustment/sustainable development policies and terrorism after taking classes in both. Yet after attending the conference, I learned there is so much more offered in foreign relations and I wanted to know if I could contact you!
– PLEN participant