A most extraordinary member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Arthur C. Helton, died in the bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad on August 19, 2003, reportedly while in a meeting with United Nations Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Viera de Mello, who was also killed. Arthur was in Iraq to assess humanitarian conditions.
Arthur had devoted his life to global advocacy for refugees and immigrants, with consummate skill and effectiveness. His impact reached the conscience of lawyers from mega Wall Street firms to our sole practictioners throughout America. Arthur reached our conscience and souls and motivated us to take the time to help the refugees among us, enabling us through his mentoring to do so effectively and ennobling us in the process. Arthur wanted skillful and effective representation for refugees and asylum seekers so he created videotapes of mock asylum interviews and deportation hearings and distributed them to AILA members and pro bono attorneys from Wall Street to the Rio Grande. He inspired us to act upon our oath as attorneys to render pro bono service to the disenfranchised.
Arthur's enormous influence on both creating and protecting the rights of asylees and refugees reached from the international policy arena to asylum trials in Immigration Courts and asylum interviews. He united AILA members in the cause of asylees and refugees, eliminating the artificial distinctions among us as business immigration lawyers and "all others".
I had the personal honor of working with Arthur over the years on the asylum hearing videotape project and on the AILA-INS Refugee and Asylum Headquarters Liaison Committee. To the extent that I am effective today in asylum and refugee advocacy, I owe the most to Arthur, relearning the compassion which I lost somewhere in law school and learning asylum advocacy skills.
Arthur left a legacy of lawyers with a conscience and extraordinarily skilled and effective representation of asylum seekers. I hope we can collectively insure there is no conscience gap among the immigration bar by each of us acting to participate in asylum and refugee work. A simple call to the local AILA Pro Bono Committee representative to offer time, talent or money or all three, would, I am sure, please Arthur immensely.
Arthur's death is a loss to the world community of conscience from those of us who know what we lost to those languishing around the world in the unspeakable squalor of refugee camps, who benefit from Arthur's work. He died while serving as our conscience and an international voice for human rights. When faced with our own mortality, would we not wish for such an end to our chapters
At the time of his death, he was serving as the Director of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Over the course of his life after law school, he wrote more than 80 scholarly articles and wrote several books, the last of which was reviewed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. He was awarded both undergraduate and law degrees by Columbia University, in 1971 and 1974, respectively.
May we be exhorted and inspired by his departure from us to find time to devote to those amongst who need our help and are homeless, penniless, and without a country.
Thank you Arthur.
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM