Ep 170: Why advocate for asylum seekers?
What does it take to change the world? Hear the inspiring story of Judy Wood, an immigration attorney whose story is the subject of the newly released movie - Saint Judy. Hear what inspired and drove her to change the lives of so many vulnerable women. Be inspired to make a difference.
Our guest: Judy Wood. Judy is a Los Angeles-based Immigration Attorney specializing in political asylum. Her landmark court victory in 1994 opened the door for women fleeing violence to seek refuge in the United States. The decision is the subject of a motion picture titled Saint Judy, starring Michelle Monaghan and Alfred Molina. In addition to a thriving legal practice, Judy also heads up the Human Rights Project, a non-profit devoted to advocating for the rights of refugees around the world.
For more details on the movie release of Saint Judy check out www.saintjudymovie.com.au for all the cinema details.
Check out the upcoming The Edge event Let Justice Roll Down on Sept 15 (featuring Brooke Prentis and John Dickson).
Check out the video from our Monday night Facebook Premiere (you can still access the video after the Premiere).
Invest in Bigger thinking for as little as US$1 per podcast on Patreon.
Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Just to clarify, you're not Judge Judy are you?
Now Judy you’ve been practising law for a long time. Is real life law the same as the television legal dramas like Suits, Law & Order, Boston Legal or Perry Mason?
Now apparently you had some dramatic training and a brief acting career off-Broadway. Did that help you as a lawyer?
Now Judy, you specialise in political asylum and immigration law, that doesn’t seem to be a particularly glamorous area of law. What made you want to work in political asylum?
There was one particularly significant case involving a female asylum seeker from Afghanistan, which has been made into a movie. Can you tell us about the case?
One of the challenges with political asylum is the challenge to prove a real danger from persecution and not just someone who is an opportunist looking for better economic outcomes. How can you tell the difference between genuine refugees and those who aren’t?
What changed as a result of your work?
Judy, this is a powerful story and one which sounds worthy of a movie and in fact your story has been made into a movie. How did you react when you were approached about making a movie about your story?
So how accurate is the film?
Did you have to do much with the production of the film?
So how do you feel about the title of the movie identifying you as ‘Saint’ Judy? Do you feel like you’re a saint?
Spiritual connections and motivations
You’ve been described as a deeply spiritual person - how important is Christian faith to your journey?
There are a couple of parts of the Bible which particularly resonate for you. The New Testament book of Hebrews speaks about faith. Hebrews 11:1 says,
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
How has this been important to you?
Defending the rights of the poor and needy is a theme in the Scriptures. Proverbs 31:8-9 says,
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
How do you resonate with this in the Scriptures and your work in defending the rights of the poor and needy?
Do you get weary advocating for changes when the problems just seem to be enormous or too difficult?
The Big Question
So Judy, why advocate for asylum seekers?