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Letters of the Week: Mar 31 - Apr 4

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  1. Kenneth Rinzler's Avatar
    Dear Colleague:
    How coincidental that AILA releases the BOG agenda for next week?s meeting the same day of my email.
    Not that it matters much at such a late date, as it?s too late (read ?expensive?) for anyone to make plans to attend and, more importantly, even if one does attend these rubber-stamp meetings there?s no time to speak anyway. The BOG meetings are for the general membership as much as the annual stock meeting of a big corporation is; they?re generally both just for show.
    But here are some items of interest:

    1. Note how the leadership is completely focused on advocacy (read ?amnesty?) efforts, to the virtual exclusion of everything else. If one looks at the Just Posted for the past week, there are 13 posts about advocacy/amnesty/stop enforcement of our laws, etc., and just one for the upcoming BOG meeting where, news to us all, they will be discussing some of the bylaw amendments we have been talking about forever:

    InfoNet Posts
    ? March 31 ? Call for Cases on Removal
    ? April 2 ? National Day of Action
    ? April 2 ? Detention Bed Quota
    ? April 2 ? Myth of Immigration Non-Enforcement
    ? April 2 ? AILA?s Take on Detention
    ? April 2 ? AILA Resources on Immigration Reform
    ? April 2 ? AILA Resources on Earned Legalization
    ? April 3 ? AILA?s Resources on Enforcement Updated
    ? April 3 ? AILA?s Resources on 2015 Appropriations
    ? April 3 ? Reforming Immigration in the 21st Century
    ? April 3 ? National Day of Acton Updated
    ? April 3 ? Video on National Day of Action
    ? April 4 ? BOG Agenda
    ? April 4 ? Keep CIR Alive

    Now we all know that AILA is in favor of amnesty for virtually everyone and completely open borders, but is this even to the exclusion of putting some focus on the members it purports to serve? Look at the above and see what the leadership considers most important.

    The proposed bylaw amendment on how to amend the bylaws is one of the most basic things this Association will ever consider, but notice that it was up for discussion was withheld from the general membership until only a week before the meeting. The leadership finds time to post so much drivel on InfoNet, including their endless pleas for amnesty, but not this??? We get so many emails from AILA and AIC soliciting contributions and promoting amnesty, but not a single email (let alone a timely one) from AILA national advising us that these proposed changes were up for discussion? Instead they are tucked away in a pdf file that remained on the homepage of InfoNet for only a few hours. Mike Owens has been begging for national to notify the members about his poll on this and related issues, but the leadership couldn?t be bothered. So if an interested member wanted to contact his chapter chair and express an opinion in time for the BOG meeting, most likely he wouldn?t know about the discussion until after the fact.

    In short, the leadership should send out an email to the general membership with the agenda in preparation for every BOG meeting, rather than always burying it in InfoNet without any real notice.

    2. The published agenda for the upcoming BOG meeting is woefully deficient in numerous ways; here are just two:

    ? Only one hour for five ?Discussion Items? to be presented, so a whopping 12 minutes for each, and then lunch. It takes 12 minutes for these people just to introduce each other, say how much all of the anointed have done for AILA, and read what the proposal is; doesn?t leave much time for discussion from the peanut gallery, does it? But then there is another hour after lunch (great way to break the continuity), so at best there will be 24 minutes for the general membership to discuss these things. 13,000 members, 24 minutes; you do the math. And then the leadership wonders why the membership sees no point in attending a BOG meeting?
    ? The ?Consent Agenda? (how aptly named, for it?s not like anything is challenged) is for all of five minutes long, and includes three items, including the 2013 Financial Statements. Knowing how careless AILA has traditionally been with its tax returns (reminder ? we have a long-standing #2 who apparently signed tax returns year after year without reading them, for how else could you explain the consistent filings which stated that AILA had no chapters?), it?s depressing to see that no real time is allowed for these things to be truly discussed.

    It took over ten years for the leadership to finally agree to share and discuss the 2002 ABA report with the general membership, and then they want to wrap it all up in a few minutes. Typical.

    3. If the 2013 Audited Financial Statements are now complete, why isn?t the tax return (Form 990) filed until after the Annual Meeting? Answer: because the leadership doesn?t want the general membership to examine it and ask questions at the annual meeting.

    ? The categories listed are overly broad and not too informative. That being said, $1.2 million for advocacy, a million dollar profit on the annual conference, and two million for ?management and general, leadership and governance? (whatever that encompasses).
    ? One of the most momentous years in American immigration history, over one million dollars of dues money spent on advocacy, and AILA was only cited 269 times in the press (being outshone by Ira Kurzban by over 2 to 1.) If anyone needed more proof that AILA is not considered a real player in the field, those figures alone speak for themselves. And we count the number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans? That is just sad (as are the numbers, by the way.) How much staff time and money are we wasting on these social media activities to preach to the saved, let alone counting vanity mentions in the press?

    And as with the present leadership, the anointed future ones for the upcoming ?election? stand mute?

    Kenneth Rinzler
    Attorney at Law
    Washington, DC
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