Refugee-turned-lawyer Chanpone Sinlapasai ’02 helps others start anew
Beth Nakamura/Oregonian Staff
The following is an excerpt of an article written by Casey Parks and published in the Oregonian on March 11, 2017 featuring Lewis & Clark law alumna Chanpone Sinlapasai ’02. Sinlapasai was also featured in the Lewis & Clark alumni magazine The Chronicle in fall 2016 in an article titled “Protecting the Vulnerable”.
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She came to the airport as a lawyer. She soon became a ringmaster, a one-stop welcome committee, legal representative and menu-planner.
Chanpone Sinlapasai ushered the TV news crews to one side, volunteer greeters to another. She lined bags of donations against a partition outside the arrivals gate. She tapped out messages on her cell phone, her fingernails the same shade of pale pink as her iPhone.
She looked up from her phone and waved her arms. Five Iraqi refugees had arrived.
“This family has nobody,” Sinlapasai told a crowd of 30 people waiting to greet the newcomers. “We are their family now.”
The Iraqis had spent the past three years in a Turkish refugee camp. Their flight had been delayed by President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees.
Refugees have settled in the United States since the end of World War II. Most came silently, rebuilding their war-torn lives with the help of a few religious nonprofits. Trump’s executive order changed that.
And it changed Sinlapasai.