At RedLine, we love working with organizations doing good work, and Airport Lawyer fits the bill perfectly.
We recently donated translation services in Arabic, Farsi, and Somali to the Seattle-based nonprofit.
Airport Lawyer Meets a Critical Need
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769. It was titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.
The order barred citizens of seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—from traveling to the U.S.
It gave rise almost immediately to several lawsuits, one of which resulted in the issuance on February 3 of a temporary restraining order. In other words, the travel ban was no longer in effect.
During those first chaotic days, travelers were detained at airports and U.S. citizens protested, with the international community widely condemning the travel ban.
And that’s when Airport Lawyer was born.
The organization was founded by Seattle-area immigration lawyers and New York legal software firm Neota Logic. Its aim is simple: to provide legal aid to immigrants and refugees at U.S. airports.
Volunteer lawyers run the outfit, coordinating with other volunteer lawyers in U.S. airports to assist foreign travelers affected by the ban.
Pro Bono Translation
Citizens of the countries in question, of course, may not speak or read English. For example, Iraqis, Libyans, Yemenis, and Syrians overwhelmingly speak Arabic.
While Somali is written left to right (like English), both Arabic and Farsi are right-to-left (RTL) languages. Of course, we’ve got plenty of experience working with RTL languages, but they can present challenges for designers.
Do Business and Politics Mix?
Conventional wisdom holds that business owners shouldn’t discuss their political views. Business is business, the thinking goes, so it doesn’t make sense to show your highly partisan colors and risk alienating half of your potential customers.
Here’s an opinion in Entrepreneur magazine that makes this exact point. (And this was written in late 2015, well before American voters elected Donald Trump president, a man who is, to put it charitably, “highly polarizing.”)
And just last week, APM’s show “Marketplace” had a segment about politics at the Oscars. In other words, I’m not the first person to ever wonder if it’s a good idea to mix business and politics.
But I knew right away that Airport Lawyer was an organization that we could and should help.
Immigrants who don’t speak English are operating at a huge information deficit when they come to the U.S. Most TSA agents don’t speak Arabic or Farsi, after all. (English is the de facto national language in this country but is not the official language; in fact, the U.S. doesn’t have one.)
As corny as it sounds, helping people communicate is what we do at RedLine. And if we’re able to translate a simple info sheet into Arabic to help those coming to the U.S. (yes, the travel ban affected real people), then we should do it.
It’s that simple.