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Representative Press Article Summaries

Our Firm is a go-to-source for reliable information about immigration
issues in the Northern Virginia region and across the country. We have
appeared on various television and radio news sources as well in
numerous national and international publications. Below are representative article summaries highlighting the work of our Firm and Lisa Johnson-Firth.
Lisa Johnson-Firth in front of the “Liberty Wall” at 9500 Liberty Street,
Manassas, VA, which for months represented an immigrant declaration of
grievances and claim of rights.

Prince William, Va.
Residents Create Plans to Clean Up Community

Everyday Democracy, The Washington Examiner, Manassas, VA
June 1, 2009

Speaking in reference to a community action forum, Lisa Johnson-Firth, said “The project helped bring together residents on opposite sides of major issues, such as illegal immigration. We had everyone from Help Save Manassas to someone like me – an immigration lawyer – come together on this issue. I think the [initiative] helped heal a lot of division -
at least for the people who participated.”

Immigration Issue Polarzies Suburban America

Chicago Tribune
September 25, 2008

Noting that since Lisa Johnson-Firth and her partner hung out their “shingle” as a law practice, they have been “flooded with work.”

“Some days, she [Lisa Johnson-Firth] feels like she’s standing on an endless beach . . . throwing starfish back into the ocean one at a time.”

“After a recent morning spent on asylum and detention cases, she [Lisa Johnson-Firth] was heading out for lunch when a Pakistani woman came in with her young son, a plump boy who spent the next half-hour singing and laughing as his mother talked with Johnson-Firth about her green card application. She wanted permission to stay in the U.S. on her own, independent of her abusive husband.”

Speaking of the division in her community over immigration, Johnson-Firth says, “I wouldn’t say its racism,
though there’s some of that,” . . . “Its more like people have so much and they don’t want to share.” Johnson-Firth later states, “the country’s founders ‘set out a way for very different people to live together’ . . . ‘and we have strayed so far from these ideas.’”

Get the facts straight about immigration
Editorial by Lisa Johnson-Firth, Esq.
Manassas Journal Messenger
May 7, 2008

In light of Mr. Stewart’s recent actions to solicit support from the public for his “rule of law” resolution, I would like to encourage the board to be vigilant about getting the facts concerning immigrants in Prince William County. For instance, there has not been a decrease in serious crime because most of the immigrants detained were picked up for minor traffic violations.

It does not take a two-year study to see that the resolution has already had a drastically negative impact on the county and the rule of law under the Constitution. We now have ghost neighborhoods, school and ESL classes down in attendance, increased community fear and home foreclosures, 40 to 80 percent business drop-offs for some business owners, increased hate-speech rhetoric, police due process violations, anecdotal evidence of profiling and the building of negative perceptions. There are also new family issues to grapple with.

For those of us raising children, it becomes challenging to teach the concept of “love your neighbor as yourself” when the next door neighbor is being deported or is fearfully fleeing.

Even at this early stage, it should be evident to the board that the resolution was ill-guided and must be rescinded or, at the least, suspended, while the board conducts hearings and solicits expert testimony and studies. An easy solution would be to recognize current federal and state laws supporting immigration enforcement, including the recent 287(g) agreements between ICE and the Prince William County police and sheriff’s office, and the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center.

Arrested Lansdowne workers released by ICE

Loudoun Times-Mirror
April 22, 2008

Lisa Johnson-Firth, in regards to the release of ICE detainees from the Landsdowne raid, said that ICE released two of five her clients and that at least two more would be let go soon.

Johnson-Firth said other Lansdowne workers were released, many with “no bond” requirements placed upon them, but she did not know how many. She further stated that one reason for the mass release is
lack of ICE bed space.

All God's Children
Appeared in the following publications:
Tucson Citizen
San Diego Union Tribune
Ashville Citizen Times
April 18, 2008

Linda Chavez, Chair of Virginia State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, quoted
Lisa Johnson-Firth’s testimony before the Commission in her editorial on the Pope’s visit to the US and his stance on immigration issues calling for humane and dignified treatment of immigrants.

Chavez cited Lisa Johnson-Firth’s describing the experiences of her law partner who is from Eritrea:
“She's been pulled over in the last two months three times by Prince William County policy officers and Manassas police officers for apparently no lawfully-stated reasons that either of us as lawyers could ascertain.”

Chavez cited other examples from Johnson-Firth involving the harassment of Latinos. In one instance, a
Latino male — a lawful, permanent U.S. resident — was harassed by police for 30 minutes at a local
convenience store; another legal resident, who was a passenger in a car, was ordered out of the vehicle,
searched, and handcuffed and held for over two hours until his immigration status could be verified.

Chavez cited Johnson-Firth’s testimony of numerous other incidents, some involving U.S. citizens, who
described being routinely stopped for questioning by police when going about their normal business,
simply on the basis of appearance or accent.

59 Workers Face Deportation - Resort Employees Arrested Tuesday
Washington Post
April 13, 2008

Documenting the Lansdowne Resort raid where 59 workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico,
Honduras, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina were arrested on charges of having used fraudulent or stolen documents to get jobs at the upscale resort on Woodridge Parkway near

"They're terrified," said Elinor Tesfamariam, a lawyer with Immigration and Human Rights Law Group
(now Immigrants First) in Manassas referring to relatives of those arrested. Her organization is working
with the group Mexicans Without Borders to assist the detainees. "I have a man who is 70 years old" and
in poor health at one of the jails, she said.

Jailed illegal immigrants released after promising to leave United States
The Examiner
April 9, 2008

After at least six illegal immigrants jailed in last month’s federal raids on a Manassas construction
company have been released from jail after promising to leave the country.

“Some thought they were free to go, to live their life,” said Elinor Tesfamariam, a lawyer with the
Immigration and Human Rights Law Group (now Immigrants First) in Manassas who advised the men at
an emergency meeting Friday night. “These people did not know what they needed to do.”

The workers are collecting their things and preparing to leave, Tesfamariam said. “They are realizing
they have no choice.”

Corey Stewart Police chief criticizes by meeting with Mexican Consul

Metro Latino USA
March 30, 2008

Covering the meeting with Chief of Police Charlie Dean and the Mexican Consul to address concerns of
the Prince William County immigrant population,
Elinor Tesfamariam was stated to be critical of the lack of quick response of the Mexican Consulate after
a raid in which immigration authorities arrested 34 people and immediately transferred to other

ICE arrests 34 illegals in Manassas
The Examiner
March 25, 2008

Federal agents arrested 34 illegal immigrants in raids of two CMC Concrete Construction work sites in
Prince William County Monday.

Lawyers advise immigrants before Pr. William crackdown
The Examiner
February 28, 2008

A week before the crackdown is scheduled to occur, lawyers and civil rights advocates are giving information to the immigrant community about what to expect once the resolution becomes effective.
Prince William County’s resolution has taken action that has made national headlines for its aggressive policy towards illegal immigration.

About 300 people attended a lengthy legal briefing Tuesday night at a Woodbridge restaurant, said Lisa Johnson-Firth, a lawyer with the Immigration and Human Rights Law Group (now Immigrants First) in Manassas, adding demand has never been higher.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

When the resolution takes effect, police officers will begin checking the legal status of immigrants involved in even minor crimes if there is probable cause to believe that person is in the US in violation of federal
immigration law.

If an immigrant is questioned about his or her status, Johnson-Firth said, the person should, “Remain silent. Remain silent. Remain silent. Request a lawyer.”

Pr. William jail backlog raises questions of ICE ability

The Examiner
February 7, 2008

Prince William County has such a large backlog of jail inmates who have been identified as illegal immigrants under the first phase of a new crackdown that the federal government cannot keep up, raising concerns about the government’s ability to handle the second phase coming in March.

“I’m hearing many, many cases of people are being picked up for very minor crimes and being put in detainers, and then having to wait,” said Lisa Johnson-Firth, a Manassas immigration lawyer.

Illegals at center of testy exchange - N.Va. county's ordinance under scrutiny during civil rights
panel's hearing
December 15, 2007

Prince William County's tough new measures targeting illegal immigrants prompted a heated exchange at
a federal civil rights panel's hearing yesterday.

Lisa Johnson-Firth was quoted as saying that, racial profiling already is occurring in Prince William County and that her law partner from Eritrea had been stopped three times in the past few months. She said one officer asked her partner why she was on "this side of town."

Although a federal judge recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by opponents of the county's measures, Johnson-Firth said she and other lawyers are assembling plaintiffs for a new lawsuit challenging the

Latino Immigrants Stand Their Ground
Washington Post
October 25, 2007

Latino immigrants and lawyers in Prince William County are working to inform immigrants about the policy
change in the county that will target out of status immigrants.
Lisa Johnson Firth, an immigration lawyer in Manassas, said her firm is advising callers and clients about how to prepare for the possibility of being detained and deported.

"They need to have a plan. They should have money in the bank, emergency transportation, someone who can care for their children, someone who knows where their documents are," said Johnson-Firth, who was handing out legal rights fliers in a church basement last Thursday night. "Once they are detained and may be deported, everything becomes much more difficult."

Working with other rights groups, Johnson-Firth's office has also printed “remain silent cards” that immigrants can hand to the police which indicate they are maintaining their right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. Johnson-Firth made it clear that even illegal immigrants are entitled to full due process.