This week my column Consulta Migratoria® celebrates five years of publication. On this occasion I explain why I have dedicated my time and knowledge of immigration law to inform and guide the immigrant community on important issues that affect them through this space.
This is the column:
Since I started writing Migratory Consultation® for the newspaper La Opinión Since April 2011, hundreds of my columns have been published and I have answered many questions with a simple objective: to inform the immigrant community about their rights and responsibilities, changes in the immigration law and how it affects them and, above all, to alert them to possible scams and the dangers of going to notaries or immigration consultants for important immigration procedures.
Why do I do it? Because I am also an immigrant and I have experienced firsthand the odyssey of millions of people who come in search of a better life in the United States. I have seen how lack of information and fear make our community more vulnerable. I have also seen how unscrupulous people take advantage of the immigrant community to benefit themselves economically. That is something that saddens, disappoints and angers me.
That is why I have dedicated myself to the practice of immigration law - to be able to help people like my mother, who came to this country alone with little money, but a lot of hope; a woman who left her young children in El Salvador in search of a better life in this great country; a woman who became undocumented, but managed to obtain permanent residency by working as a housekeeper and was able to go find her children and bring them to the United States.
I have never forgotten my mother's sacrifice, nor the difficulties we experienced in our early days in this country. That is why I understand the concern of so many immigrants seeking to regularize their legal status. And that is why, as an immigration attorney, I have always tried to help, as much as I can, the immigrant community.
Over the years, I have provided thousands of hours of pro bono legal assistance and consulting, I have been a defense attorney for migrant children in immigration court, and I have helped people with TPS in different cities in the United States obtain their driver's licenses and recover jobs and benefits because of mistakes made by government agencies. These are just a few examples of my pro bono work, the success of which has given me great satisfaction.
But where I can have a greater reach and offer more guidance is through my Consulta Migratoria® column, my blog Immigration Todaymy television segment The Lawyer at Your Sidewhich is aired on NY1 News, and the immigration segments of Un Nuevo Día Telemundo.
Being well informed is essential to know how to proceed with an immigration case and where to get the best legal help to be successful with your paperwork - whether or not you have the financial resources. Through these platforms I try to keep them informed and guide them through the process.
Five years ago, I dedicated my first column to a topic that is still relevant today: the importance of good legal representation for your immigration proceedings and how to verify the credentials of the person who will provide you with immigration services. The second column was about how to avoid falling victim to immigration fraud. My recommendation from that time still stands: never go to notarios or immigration consultants.
If you do not have sufficient financial resources to hire an attorney in private practice, you may turn to licensed non-profit organizations that have attorneys or representatives accredited by the federal government to provide legal services. In both cases you should ask to see licenses and permits to practice law and inquire about the experience of the licensed legal representative.
Unfortunately, over the past five years, I have had to report to you several cases of notarios or immigration consultants who defrauded immigrants. Some have faced criminal charges, but many others are still operating businesses, harming the immigration cases of thousands of people.
Although during the course of these five years I have answered many questions, I have received thousands of questions from readers whose greatest desire is to have an answer and a solution to their immigration status in the United States.
As a matter of space and time, I cannot answer all the individual questions that come to me. The reality is that there are no simple answers to most of the questions I receive. What may serve as an answer for one person does not apply to another, because each case is different, as each immigrant's experiences and background vary.
Each individual case requires a thorough analysis to find the best solution to an immigration problem. My answers to your questions are just a starting point. It is the beginning of a conversation to guide you to the next step.
I thank La Opinión and impreMedia for placing your trust in me and giving me the opportunity to provide you, through this platform, with information that can help and guide you on how to obtain legal status in this country and fulfill your dreams of a better life for yourselves and your families.
And thanks to you, my readers, for reading my column, sending me your questions and writing me positive messages about this column and my blog. I hope to be able to continue to inform you in this way for many years to come.