Two friends started a law firm for the Trump era. They're already getting results.

The day President Trump signed an executive order barring immigration from seven predominately Muslim countries was the day Victoria Slatton knew she'd have to quit her job.

As an asylum officer at the Department of Homeland Security, Slatton helped determine whether some of the world's most vulnerable people had the right to settle in the United States.

Now, she feared, she'd be expected to shut the door on far too many.


"I didn’t feel like my morals aligned with my old job anymore," she explains.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Discouraged but fired up, Slatton teamed up with best friend and law school classmate Michelle Stilwell to start a firm to help immigrants face down forces attempting to keep them out and send them home.

Stilwell proposed the idea — half-seriously — after discussions with her roommate, a non-citizen, who was worried about how members of her family would fare under the policies of the incoming administration.

"She basically told us, 'If you ever go into the immigration field, there’s a lot of people that could use you,'" Stilwell recalls.

The pair had discussed starting the firm prior to Slatton's decision to leave her job, but the "Muslim ban" put their plan into hyperdrive.

Stillwell (left) and Slatton. Photo by Jeff Ferrell.

With less than three post-law-school years between them, the partners gave themselves a crash course in running a business from scratch — setting up bookkeeping practices, planning a marketing strategy, and how to accept clients, which they began doing in April 2017.

Now, they help their clients — several of whom hail from the seven named countries — navigate the complex, ever-shifting challenges related to the ban.

With the uncertainty surrounding the Supreme Court's recent stay of the lower court decision pre-empting the ban, the pair are primarily advising those affected by it to be careful and stay up-to-date on the news to prepare for whatever happens next.

A detainee after his release at Los Angeles airport on Feb. 2. Photo by Mark Ralson/Getty Images.

"With a lot of people, no matter how watered down the travel ban has gotten or where it is now, I think the fear is if the Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favor, it’s kind of like, ‘What is the next step?'" Stillwell explains.

Slatton says she was surprised by the intensity of some of the backlash the firm has generated.

After a series of early news reports on the new business, the pair say they received a raft of racist, graphic, violent emails, including some death threats.

"As white women, you’re not used to that sort of hatred and animosity and racism just being flung at you," Stilwell says. "To think that our clients and other people, other immigrants in the world, are going through that on a daily basis, it was shocking.”

Nevertheless, they've been overwhelmed by support they've gotten, even from "very conservative" relatives.

Explaining their devotion to their work to their families, both report, has been an ongoing process involving many conversations and personal anecdotes about their clients to remind relatives that no two immigrant stories are the same.

Both feel they've made progress. Recently, Slatton's father relayed some of those stories to a group of his friends.

"Just to hear him defend not only me, but my clients, it was heartwarming," Slatton says.

Despite the cloud of the ban, Slatton and Stilwell are excited for what comes next.

The partners become most animated when talking about their successes — small and large — on behalf of their clients, like preparing a case for a man who was labor trafficked into the United States.

Or discovering that a recent assault victim suddenly qualified for a rock-solid humanitarian visa.

Or the veteran who they encouraged to apply for the green card he's owed.

In an era of uncertainty, this is how they're holding firm to their values.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

"[It's] a lot of work, but really satisfying when you find a solution for them," Slatton says.

With each victory, they join the growing ranks of Americans who are making a difference by sticking their necks out for the most vulnerable — whether by making calls, sitting in their senators' offices, or starting a law firm.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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