August will mark the first full year of existence for the Assyrian American Bar Association … and what a fantastic inaugural year it has been.

The Assyrian American Bar Association was formed in Chicago by a small group of lawyers who recognized a need within the community to “promote high standards of competence, professionalism and integrity and cultivate a strong network of attorneys with a comprehensive range of legal expertise.”

An essential element of our mission is mentoring young Assyrian Americans who aspire to join the legal profession. This year, we focused more on our formation and building a strong foundation for our association to better assist both our lawyers and community in the future. Our numbers have increased from that small founding group of a few, to nearly 60 members strong and growing.

Within a year, the association has taken enormous strides toward actualizing its mission. When our community became a target of immigration raids last year, we strategized and held “Know your Rights Sessions” to provide information to affected families. Association members visited more than a dozen churches and organizations to explain in layperson’s terms what rights we have as citizens.

We partnered with several local associations, and made sure questions were answered in order to explain that a rule of law does exist.

After all, and similar to Law Day, it’s sessions like this that allow us to reflect on how the governmental structure — and the protections it provides its citizens — is working. We also hosted a breakfast with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq Joseph Pennington where we discussed, among other issues, the administration’s immigration policies.

Law Day celebrates our democratic way of life. It was founded on the premise that we should reflect upon and appreciate a nation that is governed by laws. As we consider the 2018 Law Day theme, “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom,” we must not forget that the founding fathers felt it imperative to delineate, through the Bill of Rights, which matters were ascribed to the responsibilities and restrictions of government and legislation and which of those to the individual. This is articulated in the preamble to the Bill of Rights, which states in part: “… in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added … ” to the Constitution.