A few months ago, two twin brothers in the mid-60s came to my Riverside immigration law office to discuss a letter they had received in the mail a few days before.
They had been scheduled for an appointment at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office to provide proof that they were really born on American soil.
They had been U.S. citizens since their birth over six decades ago. They had no arrests or convictions. They had faithfully paid their taxes each year and owned homes. They were married with adult children.
They now faced possible deportation.
They were born in a Texas border town with the assistance of a midwife.
Learning there is more than one way to skin a cat – that different approaches to the same problem may be equally valid – is one such virtue of living in a home with parents from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Early in my career, at a seminar for new attorneys, a judge gave me a piece of advice that has guided me in representing immigrants at various courts, agency interviews, and immigration appeals to this day.
The advice, though simple, was profound.
Good lawyers, said the judge, prepare in advance. They know their evidence before their hearings start. They maximize their clients’ chances for success.
Several years ago, I moved into a new neighborhood. Being a multiculturalism enthusiast, a family of five living across the street quickly caught my attention.
The wife was fair-skinned, short, with wavy red hair. The husband was dark, tall, with straight black hair. She was from Ireland. He was from Mexico. Their children’s pronunciations were unlike any version of English I had ever heard before.
I sensed one of my new neighbors lacked legal immigration papers.
The ordeal of migrants from Central and South America is a dangerous journey.
Yet, thousands make this trip every year, often with limited, if any food, clothes, money, or water.
Few really understand the ordeals they face like Joel Smith, Director of Operations at Human Borders, a Tucson, Arizona non- profit organization dedicated to taking death out of the immigration border equation.
One of the toughest issues to understand is why would millions of Latin Americans leave their homes families to make an illegal, expensive, dangerous and sometimes deadly journey to the United States?
To the extent this issue is discussed in the public arena, it is usually explored at a surface level, without a deep exploration of the causes or consequences of such migration.
This lack of truth and honesty prompted Ellin Jimmerson, a minister and civil rights activist, with a Ph.D in History, to produce “The Second Cooler,” an award-winning documentary on the immigration problems caused by NAFTA.