Clare Hanusz is the founder of Aloha Immigration and an immigration lawyer with a long career representing, writing about, and advocating for immigrants and more just American policies. She has lived in Honolulu since 1995, aside from an 18-month move to Melbourne in 2012. Before speaking at a Zócalo/Daniel K. Inouye Institute “Talk Story” event, titled “Does Hawai‘i Welcome Immigrants?” and held at Artistry Honolulu, she talked in the green room about The Cure, “Downton Abbey,” and why Hawai‘i’s public schools need more advocates.
Who was the last actor or actress who made you swoon?
I had a thing for Lady Sybil in “Downton Abbey” [played by Jessica Brown Findlay]. My husband was fine with it. I was very sad when she died.
What person, living or dead, would you most want to have a drink with?
My paternal great-grandfather, just because he came very young from Austria-Hungary but we know nothing about his story… I would love to talk to him and fill in some of the gaps of my family’s immigrant history.
What besides friend and family do you most miss about Ohio, where you grew up?
The cost of living.
At which restaurant do you most often eat?
[Long pause] Taco Bell. Bean burrito.
What song is most likely to get you on the dance floor?
“Why Can’t I Be You?” by The Cure.
What’s the best movie about immigration?
If you couldn’t live in Hawai‘i, where would you live?
What question do you get most from immigrant clients?
“Can you help me?” or “Do I have a chance?”
What’s the biggest misconception people have about American immigration law?
That marrying a U.S. citizen solves all problems.
What’s the worst thing you’ve seen in the American immigration system?
There are so many. The situation now at the U.S.-Mexico border. The agreements that have been made with Central American countries to keep asylum seekers away from the United States. It makes me sick.
You serve on the board of an advocacy group for public schools in Hawai‘i. Why?
Hawai‘i has more students per capita in private schools than any other state… So the public schools really suffer from a lack of political and social capital because so many of the middle class or upper class choose to send their kids to private schools. And they don’t pay attention to the public schools, which suffer.
What’s the best book you’ve read about Hawai‘i?
Haunani-Kay Trask’s book, From a Native Daughter, was a book that I read before moving to Hawai‘i 25 years ago. It’s really important to understanding the native issues—the book for me was very eye-opening.