Margaret D Stock, lieutenant colonel (retired), is an attorney with the Anchorage office of Cascadia Cross Border Law Group LLC. Ms Stock developed and implemented the Department of Defense’s recruiting programme, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI). In 2008, she earned the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Pro Bono Award for founding the AILA Military Assistance Program. She was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2013.
What inspired you to pursue a legal career?
My early involvement with the legal system and my observations of how good lawyers can change people’s lives for the better.
What do you enjoy most about practising immigration law?
Immigration law is exciting and changes daily, so you are never bored. I enjoy getting to the office every morning and finding out the latest changes in laws, regulations and cases.
You have an extensive military background. How has this helped to shape your career?
My time in the military taught me to be disciplined and to understand how bureaucracies work. I also learned many leadership and management skills that have served me well in the legal profession.
You undertook pioneering work on the MAVNI programme. What has been the effect of the programme?
The MAVNI programme allowed more than 10,000 highly intelligent foreigners to join the US military, where they made strong contributions to our national defence. Without the programme, they would not have been permitted to serve. The MAVNI programme also had very positive second- and third-order side effects that were not anticipated when the programme began. For example, we did not anticipate that the MAVNI programme would give the United States a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Paul Chelimo, who won the silver medal in the 5000 metres men’s running race, was a MAVNI. He would not have been on the US team or in the Olympics at all if he had not earned his US citizenship through the MAVNI programme.
How has your role as a professor enhanced your work in private practice?
Teaching taught me how to explain things clearly, a skill that works not only with students but helps me to explain law and policy to immigration clients. There’s an old saying that you can’t understand something unless you’ve been asked to teach it to someone else. I understand immigration law much better because of my experience as a professor.
What particular corporate immigration challenges exist in Alaska? Are there any particular sectors that have seen an increase in work in recent years?
Alaska suffers from a shortage of qualified workers in many industries. Our workforce is ageing and we need many more younger workers to fill jobs, but there aren’t enough younger workers available in the native-born population. Employers in many sectors are seeking to hire immigrants to fill their workforce needs. Key sectors that are affected include healthcare, the fishing industry and education.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of corporate immigration practice lie?
Unfortunately, corporate immigration law is getting more and more complicated. The Trump administration promised to reduce bureaucracy across the country, but that hasn’t been true in the immigration field. In our field, the bureaucracy has exploded, and people find it quite difficult to navigate without a skilled attorney. There’s a growing demand for talented people who can understand and help clients navigate the increasingly complicated and irrational corporate immigration system.
You have enjoyed a distinguished career to date, including being a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (“Genius Grant” recipient). What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I’d like to achieve rationality and efficiency in the US immigration law field. That’s my dream.