I don’t think 2015 was quite the year anyone in the immigration field hoped for. We had dreams of expanded DACA and DAPA. We had hopes for higher asylum grant rates, the closure of family immigration detention facilities, and the broader use of prosecutorial discretion. None of these things happened.
Yet, small victories were won every day. I recently took a moment to look back on 132 cases we closed this year. While it’s true that not every case ended with good news, over 95% of them did. And these cases are more than files and paperwork. These are lives changed; these are families who are able to stay together here in the United States.
I look back on the list and I see so many newlyweds that we helped. Many of these couples are spending just their second New Year’s Eve together. They have the chance to build their futures together now, without the fear of immigration tearing them apart.
I see the names of individuals who were granted U Status three years ago who were able to apply for, and who received, their green cards. They were undocumented victims of crime and are now permanent residents. Their strength and belief in doing the right thing – reporting the crime and helping law enforcement – allowed them the opportunity to stay in a country that protects its victims.
Then there are names that stand out because of the unique challenges their cases presented:
- The woman who thought she was a U.S. citizen for her entire life until the Georgia Department of Driver Services told her otherwise – and we were able to show them that they were wrong;
- The family from Sri Lanka that the U.S. Embassy kept demanding more and more documents from, to the point of requiring DNA, and now they are all here in the United States;
- The woman from Russia who was granted asylum because of her sexual orientation – after waiting nearly two years for an interview; and
- The man who was originally ordered removed by an Immigration Judge, but we got his case reopened, and because he’s married to a U.S. citizen he was able to apply for his permanent residency.
I don’t know what 2016 will bring. Like most people, though, I hope that the new year will be better than the last. I look forward to meeting new clients, helping more people, and hopefully to victories on a national scale for immigrants I’ll never meet.