Even though Jay Stansell says his parents taught him discrimination was unacceptable, he admits that, growing up in a small Ohio town, his view of the world was limited. College in North Carolina widened this outlook, though his cultural vista expanded considerably at UW Law School, where he worked with refugees. “That’s when I began to see how broad the world is,” says Stansell.
Now, as an assistant federal public defender, that worldview incorporates local happenings that carry global implications. In 1999, he served on a legal team working to free immigrants, such as Cambodian refugee Kim Ho Ma, held indefinitely in a local detention center. The Ma case, combined with another, worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2001, Stansell helped to argue, successfully, that indefinite detentions of immigrants awaiting deportation to countries without repatriation agreements were illegal. Due to the ruling, thousands were freed.
Stansell says that case, and the 1,000-plus others the Defender’s Office has tackled, have convinced him that all people, regardless of race or nationality, are his brothers and sisters, something he teaches his two children. “Now,” says Stansell, “I have a life that doesn’t have borders.”
For copy of actual issue, go to https://www.realchangenews.org/2007/01/31/jan-31-2007-entire-issue