Born to Jamaican immigrants, Dana Morgan’s first American dream was when she was a child living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, watching Vanessa Williams crowned Miss America 1984.It was the first time an African-American woman captured that title.
“I thought about the day I would go from typical girl to being a princess and wearing a tiara, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be on that stage one day,’” said Morgan, who is now an attorney living in Atlanta and New Jersey.
In 2001, Morgan, who was Dana Powell at the time, moved closer to that goal by becoming the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in the Miss USA pageant. Donald Trump owned the pageant at the time, and she recalls her “boss” as having a rare, commanding and powerful presence. She did not finish in the top 10.
To say that much has changed since those pageant days for both Trump and Morgan would be an understatement.
Now, President Donald Trump is moving to deport millions of illegal immigrants, while Morgan is representing some of those people striving for their own piece of the American dream. Morgan, 37, recently opened an immigration law practice in New Jersey.
“I had my eureka moment last year,” she told Metro. “Initially, my passion was for abused women and children, and I still have that passion. But my heart moved in a new direction last year when my grandfather, the patriarch of the family, passed away. It was their story [her grandparents] of coming to this country that made me realize this is what I have to do.”
Morgan chuckles when she thinks of her experiences as being a Miss USA contestant for a Trump-owned organization, and now being an immigration attorney “considering everything that’s going on.”
She started her law practice in late January, just as the president was moving to sign executive orders banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. What she discovered was the fear that the order instilled in people, whether or not the immigrants were from the affected countries.
Her priority is to address Trump’s executive orders targeting undocumented immigrants and his new policy, which could result in the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants for minor crimes.
On Friday, Morgan will participate in the launch of the Jamaica Diaspora Immigration and Deportation Prevention Task Force in the Bronx, to address immigration rights and the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen. It takes place at 6 p.m., at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene, 971 E. 227th St.
“If it were not for our immigration laws, I am not sure I would have had the opportunities my parents and I were afforded,” Morgan said.
Americans, she added, want to be safe and secure, so national security should always be among the priorities. But whatever the government does, Morgan said, “has to be constitutionally sound, and has to make sense, and it’s my hope that our leadership will execute the law of the land soundly.”