Houston Immigration: 2016 Holiday Season & Year in Review

December 19, 2016 Posted in immigrant visa, immigrant, immigration law

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We’re in the thick of the Holiday Season here at our Houston Immigration Law Office and around the United States! During the Holiday Season that starts with Thanksgiving and goes through the end of the year, many Americans pause to reflect on what we are thankful for and take steps to show our generosity to each other.

At my office, we had our annual holiday dinner together to take time off work to enjoy a meal together. 

Christmas – the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus – is less than two weeks away. Many Christians will carry on the tradition of gathering with family or friends and giving gifts in remembrance of God’s gift to humanity. Many Americans – Christian or not -  will celebrate with gifts, cards, and gatherings.

Then, as the new year approaches, we look back on the year that is almost passed to reflect on its highs and lows as we prepare to move into a new year.  

 

Political Asylum Project of Austin 

Just after Thanksgiving, I was talking to a new friend about the work my firm has been doing. When asked about how I got involved in immigration law, I thought back to the year of law school during which I interned with Political Asylum Project of Austin (PAPA, now American Gateways).

During that time, I helped one of the staff attorneys represent a woman who was detained indefinitely that we worked to get released. She’d made a major mistake in her life, defrauding the state of thousands of dollars to pay for infertility treatments so she and her husband could have another child.

It was a sad situation – she and her spouse obviously wanted more children, and at that time, infertility treatments were prohibitively expensive. She was ultimately found guilty of fraud and was then transferred to immigration court. A judge found that she would be tortured if she were returned to her home country, but the government sought to keep her detained indefinitely as a person who might be dangerous to the public.

She was a person who clearly made a mistake, but was remorseful and we believed she deserved another chance. Under the mentorship and direction of the staff attorney at PAPA, we helped to get the woman released so that she could attend her daughter’s high school graduation.

 

Immigrants Treated Unfairly

I recalled the first couple of years of being licensed to practice law, working at a prominent immigration firm in Houston. As a new citizen attorney in Houston, I watched the more senior lawyers around me as they worked to help our clients through their cases.

One attorney stands out to me for some of the work she did. She was devoutly Christian herself, but began to represent Muslim immigrants who had been subjected to background checks which often meant extremely long delays in getting green cards or citizenship. In some cases, it meant extensive fraud investigations which sometimes produced inaccurate information about their activities in the United States.

I was moved and inspired by her work, not just because she was very skilled and effective in advocating for her clients, but also because she seemed to understand that regardless of the differences in beliefs that she and her clients had, they had rights that could – and should – be asserted. They were subject to difficulties that others weren’t, and without evidence of any wrongdoing, this was unfair.

Her clients were from a completely different ethnic and faith community than she was, but she zealously advocated for them. I respected that so much. I don’t know where she is now, and I don’t believe she is practicing immigration law anymore, but her example is something I’ve kept in mind for years.

 

Our Year in Review

It has been a year of unexpected news, some concerning. We have heard that there may be a registry for Muslims in the United States regardless of whether there is any evidence of wrongdoing. We have heard that all undocumented people might be deported and then heard that this might not happen after all.

None of us know what the future holds right now. But we’re in the midst of a time of gratitude for what we have and generosity toward each other.

Although we are all concerned about our country’s future and our security, our office is grateful for the contributions our clients make to our local community, the economy, national interests, and character of the United States.

We will continue to represent our clients – from all backgrounds, with varied experiences, impressive skills and amazing visions of the future – in the new year.

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tagged immigrant visa, immigrant, immigration law

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