As an immigration attorney who specializes in deportation defense, I’ve learned there is a common thread among immigrants who win their cases.
They give far more to others than they ask in return.
It’s an intangible quality. Yet, it’s very real.
Within the first 10 – 20 minutes of my initial meeting with clients, the presence of such a quality cannot be missed. I spot it as soon as we start to discuss my potential client’s immigration history and family situation.
It’s why this person left their home country, usually thousands of miles away, with nothing certain but uncertainty.
It’s why this person is worried about losing and getting deported back to their home country.
It’s why this person refuses to simply give up and arrived at my immigration law office seeking help.
And it’s why this person’s family needs him to win his immigration case.
Take Cipriano, a former client of mine from Mexico. He was 38 years old when he was apprehended by immigration agents for being here without inspection.
His family in Mexico was dirt poor and often went days without food. He was the second oldest son. As soon as he turned 18, he left for the U.S. His goal was to find temporary work in the fields which would allow him to send money to his family back home.
He did not intend to remain in the United States. But as luck would have it, he met Yolanda and fell in love. Over the course of the next 15 years, they had three children, two sons and a daughter, whom they raised in Moreno Valley, California.
All of the kids did well in school, never got in trouble, and took part in school, church, and community activities.
Cipriano participated in their school activities, often volunteering to set up equipment and booths for special school events, and building special shelving and tables for classrooms. He and his wife went to teacher-parent conferences regularly and were active in the PTA.
As we talked, Cipriano told me about how much he enjoyed taking his kids to the movies, to the library to read books and special shows, to Padres baseball games, and to church on the weekend. He laughed when he recalled teaching them how to swim. He was excited about being the coach’s assistant for their soccer team.
He did not doubt his ability to survive if he was removed from the U.S. But he was worried about what would happen to his wife and his children.
His cancellation of removal case at immigration court rested on a concept known as hardship. How would his U.S. children suffer, asked the judge, if Cipriano was deported?
I knew. It was my job to help Cipriano prove it.
Unfortunately, not all parents, immigrant or otherwise, are as concerned for the welfare of their offspring as Cipriano.
Some potential clients cannot tell me what classes their children are studying, what grades they’re getting, or what their children want to be when they grow up.
Obviously, something is missing from that kind of parent-child relationship.
And that “something” which is missing pervades everything in such an individual’s life, from his relationship with his wife, to his attitude about work, and even about his need to seek top quality legal assistance.
For such persons, being part of a collective whole – a family, a community, a nation – is not a priority.
On the other hand, those immigrants, who live a life dedicated to something larger than self, are far more likely to emerge victorious at the end of their court battles.
For by building a stronger family and richer community, Cipriano was helping to forge a greater nation.
Although Cipriano has never consciously pondered the meaning of John Kennedy’s 1960 inauguration commentary . . .
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
He has lived it.