ATLANTA—The words in the indictment are searing. Bonnie Youn, a respected immigration lawyer, is accused of dishonest actions. The words in the press and on the Internet are searing, too. My first thought was, when did we dispense with “innocent until proven guilty?”
Breitbart picked up the story right away, on April 3: “An amnesty advocate that President Barack Obama’s White House publicly promoted as part of its “Champion of Change” series has been indicted in federal court on charges of fraud.” And “Bonnie M. Youn is touted by Obama’s White House as a recognized Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leader.”
She was honored for being like agricultural labor organizer Cesar Chavez. As if that is somehow suspect. As if being an amnesty advocate is fishy. Publicly promoted? Touted? How else would you honor an outstanding, civic-minded person? You would not do that in secret. That would miss the point.
I called the U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates’s office for an interview and got the classic highly courteous but even more highly circumspect federal information officer. They are known as stringent yet polite gatekeepers. The office declined to comment. In writing.
I called Youn’s attorney, Richard Rice. He was out for the day, said his highly courteous assistant.
Meanwhile, I went a-Googling. One title of a certain story caught my interest. “Obama’s Motley ‘Champions of Change'” from Accuracy In Media. It’s the word motley. One can free associate about motley, and get very creative. It suggests multi-colored. Multicultural.
Motley would mean the opposite of the good ole boys like the Georgia legislators who passed Georgia’s boneheaded, mean, stupid, wasteful, knuckle-dragging immigration law.
How boneheaded is it? You might be born here, go back 10 generations, and have a professional license or a driver’s license. You’d have to prove you are a citizen to renew that license. Just in case we had some librarians or barbers or chiropractors or veterinarians or plain vanilla car drivers who snuck across the Rio Grande.
Motley would mean not like the monochromatic, flint-hearted immigration judges in Georgia who have some of the highest rates of denying asylum requests in the country.
I digress, but I digress within a meaningful context. Youn is an advocate for immigration reform in a state with an especially backward and hateful take on immigration. She is an Ivy-league educated woman of Korean descent. I read her as a Democrat, though I don’t know that for sure; I never heard her say that.
Having seen her charisma and her excellent ability to make things happen, I wonder. I wonder if some of our Red State political brothers and sisters are delighted to pile on when they see a potentially electable person face a big bump in a formerly golden career path.
So yeah, when I read the stories my first thought was how they did not seem to presume Youn’s innocence as clearly as they should. Because we are all, always, innocent until proven guilty.
Here is part of what the indictment says: “We expect lawyers to uphold and defend the rule of law, not assist clients in breaking the law, as Ms. Youn is charged in this indictment,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Specifically, Ms. Youn is charged with obtaining legal status for a client in this country by filing false documents with the United States Government, and encouraging them to lie to federal agents.”
At first, Youn said nothing and referred reporters to her attorney. On Wednesday she released a statement, which says in part: “What I am experiencing cannot compare to the pain of families torn apart, or of those unlawfully detained. I am only made more fully aware than ever that there is injustice and unfairness in the world, and we must resolve to fight it in every way we can, with our every breath. It is the American way.”
It is. Like assuming somebody’s innocence before issuing a guilty verdict.