A Day in the Life: Nadia Dahab

Nadia Dahab is an attorney and passionate runner hailing originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, and now living in Portland, Oregon. In the latest of our “A Day in the Life” series, Nadia shares how her personal and professional life have been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

How has the last month been for you?

Quarantine is definitely wearing thin! As difficult as it’s been to be physically disconnected from family and friends, I’ve been feeling very fortunate for my work, technology, and for the slower pace of life, which has made me establish new habits that I think just might become a part of my post-quarantine life. I walk more thoughtfully, pay more attention to the world around me, better manage how I fuel my body, and check in on my family much, much more often. I have “virtual” dinner with my 5- and 7-year-old niece and nephew a few times a week these days, and it keeps me grounded.

What’s changed for you at your place of work?

I feel fortunate to have a job that can readily be done remotely, and to work at a place already equipped with the technology necessary to make that happen. The biggest change has been for the people I represent–my job is focused on fighting for immigrant and refugee justice in and outside of court. That includes Oregon’s immigrant communities (many of whom are working in high-risk jobs or have lost their jobs altogether, don’t quality for unemployment insurance or other federal benefits, and won’t be getting a stimulus check), DACA recipients who are bracing for a potentially devastating Supreme Court decision this spring, and people seeking humanitarian protection in immigration court. Work has changed for me because the battle has changed for them–we’re fighting on all fronts.

Nadia (right) with her co-worker

What’s something others might not realize about the work you’re doing right now?

We had to go to federal court last week to seek an order requiring the government to implement social distancing in the immigration courts. The stories have been horrifying–the immigration courts are operating “business as usual,” putting individuals with asylum cases, where the stakes often are a matter of life or death, in the impossible position of showing up to court and putting the public health at risk, or potentially waiving humanitarian rights their lives depend on. I spent three hours on a telephonic hearing with a judge last week, begging the court to step in and save lives. She said no. Since then, we’ve turned to raising relief funds for immigrant families in Oregon, and advocating for the Supreme Court to delay the DACA decision until next year.

What differences have you noticed in the ways that your communities are operating? (Whether that’s your place of work, neighborhood, clubs, inner friend circle..)

Everyone seems a little more mindful, and so much more deliberate–with work, friends, family, even neighbors, it feels like everyone moves a little slower, with a little more appreciation for the moment they’re in, with a little more gratitude for the people and the nature and the spring blossoms around them.

Have you had to make any adjustments to your schedule or routine for yourself or other members of your family?

Thankfully, no. The biggest challenge has been to keep my routine, so I can stay focused and not dwell on the pandemic.

How has running/fitness fit into your life with everything that’s going on?

I run more! I was sidelined all winter with a stress fracture, so I’m very very grateful for a healthy foot and the flexibility to still get outside and run in my neighborhood or on the trails. I’m mostly running solo, around Irvington or in Forest Park, which I very much love. Definitely bummed, though, for the chance to get to know this team to get put on hold.

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