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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.