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Congressional Record: Recognizing Maunica Sthanki


______ HON. JERROLD NADLER of new york in the house of representatives Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, today I rise, along with Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren, to thank Maunica Sthanki for her service to the Judiciary Committee.

Maunica has served as a counsel for the Committee since 2014. During this time, she has been a passionate and dogged advocate for women and children seeking asylum, for refugees from Syria, Africa, and other war-torn regions--indeed for all immigrants who come to America seeking a better life for themselves and their children.

For Maunica, immigration and protection of the most vulnerable is personal. While her family's story in many respects began in Uganda in the 1970s, it is an American story. In 1972, Ugandan military strongman Idi Amin issued an order expelling Asians living in the country. Her father, one of approximately 60,000 persons of Indian descent in Uganda at the time was left stateless. Her mother, who had a U.K. passport, was able to move to England. But thanks to America's generosity and a Jewish charity, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, her mother and father were able together to resettle in the United States. Like so many immigrants before them and immigrants who would come in the decades that followed, Maunica's parents came without much more than the clothes on their backs and settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Maunica would be born.

Maunica attended Baton Rouge Magnet High School, one of the Southeast's most competitive public schools, Louisiana State University, and the University of Texas School of Law. She began her career in law representing migrants and children along the border, and became a professor of clinical law at the University of the District of Columbia, imparting to others her passion for the rule of law.

Maunica began her work for the Committee in 2014 just as we were experiencing an unprecedented increase in the number of unaccompanied children arriving at our Southern border. Within days she was responsible for organizing a congressional delegation to visit with parents in detention, children and adults in crowded Border Patrol stations, and attorneys on the ground. Maunica's advocacy skills and unbending sense of justice during that summer steeled her for fights to come. She became an advocate for ending family detention and a defender of laws that ensure that children have the opportunity to apply for asylum in the United States. That these laws remain on the books is a great tribute to Maunica's commitment.

After the Paris bombings of November 13, 2015, Maunica knew immediately that the U.S. refugee program--an ocean away and with an extensive vetting process-would be subject to the same xenophobic attacks that followed 9/11 and were the very reason she became an immigration lawyer. She, again, fought to preserve asylum and refugee protections--laws that set the standard around the world and provide a safe haven to the most vulnerable irrespective of their faith, ethnicity or nationality.

In January 2016, when the first Executive Order banned travel to the United States for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, she recognized it as what federal courts would later declare it to be--a Muslim ban so infected with racial and religious animus that it could not stand. Perhaps, again, it was personal. Maunica's husband, a man of Muslim faith, has dedicated his life's work to combating bigotry as a prosecutor with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

Earlier this year, when the Trump Administration began separating children from their families, Maunica worked tirelessly to help draft the Keep Families Together Act, legislation to end family separation at the U.S. border. Her expertise made the legislation stronger, and her passion and commitment led 190 Members of Congress to cosponsor the legislation. Together, we mounted a campaign to stop the policy and reunite children with their families. Work that continues today. We thank her for her dedication and compassion to helping others.

Maunica is a vegetarian because of her faith, and as her daughter would tell you because animals are our friends, and she is also a rabid LSU football fan. She is an irrepressible spirit who has made great sacrifices to serve the Committee.

We wish Maunica Sthanki the very best in her future endeavors and thank her for her outstanding service to the Committee and our country.


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