Did you make any resolutions for the new year? I didn’t. I know enough about myself that I probably won’t stick to a plan to practice yoga, study Spanish, eat better, and stress less. I can have the best schedule in place, the best teachers, the best recipes – but after a few weeks, I find it hard to stay motivated.
After nine years of working in immigration law, though, I still feel just as motivated to get up and fight every morning as I did on the first day.
If you watch the news, you would think that immigration law is the most depressing, awful area that an attorney could work in. Why?
- Refugee mothers and children are being picked up by ICE in raids – announced just before Christmas! – and deported back to near-certain death in Central America;
- Immigrants feel unsafe in this country simply because of how they look, dress, or practice their faith;
- U status applicants who apply today for relief will likely not be eligible to apply for their green card for ten years, instead of the regular three years, because of an arbitrary limit on U visas that can be granted each year; and
- Immigration courts continue to be horribly backlogged, with many cases not scheduled for their first hearing until November 2019.
Yet, within just the first ten days of 2016, individual stories of hope keep coming into the office. Justice still prevails, I still get to provide good news, and clients still smile.
- R.C. was taken off the U visa wait list and instead of having us mail her the approval letter and her work card, she chose to drive nearly four hours to our office so she could thank us in person;
- After six months of no communication from a rural law enforcement agency, we were able to get a U certification for C.M., which will allow her and her husband to apply for legal status in the United States after decades of living in the shadows;
- H.M. had her claim to U.S. citizenship denied, but with a little liaison work, we were able to get her case reviewed and demonstrate that she had been a U.S. citizen since her birth in Europe – despite what the Georgia Department of Driver Services was trying to say 30 years later; and
- G.C.M. had her green card approved within 35 days of filing – record time!
Sure, winning is nice, but it’s knowing that these lives will never be the same that gets me up every morning. Even in the face of ugly speeches and draconian laws, I can help change someone’s world. I can’t think of anything more motivating than that.