“Life is a journey,” noted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “not a destination.”
Even for lawyers.
We never reach a point of absolute knowledge or complete victory.
Despite attorneys who pretend otherwise and treat clients as second class human beings, the quest for legal certainty never ends.
There is always, even for the most experienced or intellectual, more wisdom to gain, more battles to fight.
Our success depends on relying on what we have already learned and what we can reasonably anticipate happening in the future.
The road ahead is always uphill.
The life of the law, after all, is not logic.
It has been experience.
The Past: Why I Fight For Immigrants And Their Families
A few weeks ago, after being informed my client’s merits hearing was cancelled, I spent time with his family outside the court room, going over their reflections of his importance to each of them.
My client, of course, was disappointed the judge was sick and would not be able to hear his and his relatives’ testimonies. He wanted to get his life back on track.
- His mother, a lawful permanent resident of 30 years, was present.
- His two sisters, one a green card holder, the other a naturalized citizen, were also there.
- My client’s wife, born in San Bernardino, and their two high school age children, were present and prepared to testify about their individual relationships with their father.
For me, this is a typical America family, a blended family consisting of both immigrants born abroad and citizens raised here since birth.
About an hour later, as we started to head out, Esteban, my client’s oldest child, asked me, “Why did you become an attorney?”
“My father was an immigrant. He worked hard to support my mother, my sisters, and me. He mailed money home to his mother every week.
I was lucky to have some good teachers. They helped me understand that if I worked hard enough in school, I could become a journalist, a doctor, or a lawyer.
I had friends, whose fathers or mothers got into trouble and went to jail, many for petty offenses. I saw the destruction it caused for their families. Some of them had to grow up with a missing parent.
I witnessed the good and the bad.
But more than anything, I had a lot of family love and support. I was raised to help others and share my toys, my allowance, and my lunch with kids who had less than me.
Growing up, my life was a lot like yours is today.”
He smiled and walked away.
The Future: Passing The Torch Of Compassion
Two weeks ago, my eldest son graduated from law school.
As I watched him receive his diploma, I reflected on a blog post I wrote four years ago.
My son was beaten and stabbed a few nights ago.
By a group of young immigrants.
I’ve spent my career defending immigrants. My commitment faces constant criticism.
The incident a few nights ago shook the foundations of my world. My personal views on deportation defense were again called into question. This time I am the examiner.
I contemplated withdrawing from the practice of immigration law.
My son grasped the reality of his situation far sooner than me.
Throughout his physical recovery, he never lost his spiritual roots of love or social commitment to justice for those less fortunate.
His positive attitude grounded my negative emotions.
Fast forwarding ahead, I’ve been asked, “Is your son planning to practice immigration law like you?”
Not just like me. But with me.
When my son finishes state bar licensing requirements, he’ll join me in the practice of helping others achive justice and fairness in their legal matters.
He may assume day-to-day responsibility for our San Diego immigration law offices.
As a New Year approaches, I’m looking forward to practicing law alongside him, sharing with him tricks and traps I’ve learned during my career.
Eventually, he will take my place. He’ll do an outstanding job and take great care of clients, some of whom will likely be the children of my former clients.
Having watched his growth from diapers to diplomas, I have no doubts about his commitment to pushing for justice and fairness, and whomever he serves will be in the hands of a lawyer who respects all walks, all types of people.
One day, I’ll retire in peace, knowing he has assumed the journey – a journey of compassion in which lawyers can make a positive difference in the lives of many deserving, but less fortunate, human beings.
Like I said, nine years ago when I almost lost him.
Thank God, I still have my son.
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics