On March 16, Trump's revised travel ban was supposed to go into effect, but federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked it from moving forward. The new document, currently on hold, uses more precise language and accounts for many of the special cases, but the substance of the order still is largely the same, and six Muslim-majority countries are subject to a 90-day ban on travel to the United States. In light of the new challenge, Trump has vowed to revert to the initial, even more punitive ban (good luck getting that one through the courts).
The weekend after Trump's first travel ban was issued, I spent the entire Sunday camped out at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). I'm a lawyer, so I had signed up through the International Refugee Assistance Project to be a volunteer coordinator for the other lawyers coming out to help defend some of the nearly 90,000 travelers who were targeted and affected by the ban.
As a Bay Area native, I had gone through the international terminal several times, and it usually felt tranquil and quiet. But on that Sunday, every floor was full of protesters and volunteers. They were busy, and they were making noise. At a certain point, SFO staff appeared to have left the terminal — we had seemingly "occupied" the airport. For the lawyers who came to volunteer, though, it wasn't an occupation so much as it was a serious legal-services operation.
In the middle of the day I was sitting on the ground in our "war room" corner of the terminal, with several of us huddled together, furiously coordinating efforts on our laptops and phones. Because I didn't have time to waste leaving that area, I was using my jacket for cover while I pumped. (I have a baby, and I was still breastfeeding, and you gotta do what you gotta do!) Clearly I have a liberal view about these things, but in that moment, I felt especially comfortable. It took me a while to appreciate that it was because there were women everywhere.
When I got home that evening, I realized that nearly every single lawyer with whom I had worked that day — even people like immigrant-rights staff attorneys at the ACLU who couldn't physically be there, but with whom I had spent significant time speaking on the phone — was a woman. It turns out SFO wasn't the only place where this gender disparity was apparent; it was happening all over the country.
I recently watched Eva Longoria speak at the MAKERS Conference, and she said something that stuck with me because it reminded me of my mother and grandmother. Eva described her mother as raising her with a motto of "Figure it out." You need extra money? Figure it out. You want someone to cook you a meal? Figure it out. At the heart of her message is that women are resourceful, and they are problem solvers: they show up, they roll up their sleeves. And they figure it out.
The airports are just one example of the ways in which women are on the front lines fighting this administration in a meaningful, ongoing way. What follows are two similar but separate interviews I conducted and combined. They are with women who spend their daily lives finding creative solutions for communities that need it most. Julia Wilson is a lawyer who led efforts following the travel ban at SFO through her role as CEO of OneJustice, and Julie Chavez Rodriguez was at LAX as a representative of Senator Kamala Harris's office*, where Julie is state director.