The majority of my clients are women. The majority of the cases we hear are about abuse and human rights issues, and although I would like to refer the case or turn it down, I can’t. “Help as many as you can,” echoes that paternal voice. It takes much strength to listen to these stories and to work the case. I can only be thankful that my staff has the patience to endure these sad cases. But it takes a toll and there is no one to say thank you.
Since the age of 16, I have been involved and learning immigration/international law. From filing to studying with my professors. I wanted the International Finance route to be my career, but Prof. Steinhardt insisted that I see the human side of International Law. So the die was cast, as they say, I volunteered. And along the way, my brother labored and toiled in the community here in Houston. After 30 years, he has persevered and is one of the most ethical and professional attorneys that I know in immigration.
When I see him want to give up, it makes me think that the community would lose such an important defender. And when I want to give up, he reminds me that we do it not for the money or the glamour but because it is our duty. No one asked us to give up some weekend or weeknights, away from family, to volunteer in the community, but we did and continue to do so. It’s not because we are chasing the publicity, or shiny award, or the myriad of clients. It is because we want to help and defray the corruption running rampant in the community with those with ulterior motives. It’s the least we can do.
Immigration Law, business or family, is grueling on an attorney’s lifespan, to say the least. We have seen it change and it has taken a hit in credibility and nobility in the last few years as many now try to elbow their way to the top of the tier. But there is no tier, just experience and endurance. So when immigration attorneys are criticized, unfairly sometimes, I take offense.
For those who know me and my family, it is not about the money. It never has been. We could sit back and enjoy our aging years without a worry. But it is for the love of people, and the remembrance that America was built on those wanting a better life from their countries; we are a land of immigrants. It is a promise that we have made through our faith and our parents; “thou shall not covet,” and giving back to the community is a duty, a way to be thankful for all of our blessings.
Being a lawyer is not always glamorous, and it shouldn’t be, after all we took an oath to uphold the law and defend the rights of many even when it is unpopular. It is a burden, to say the least, but one that I embrace.
Linda Vega is The Founder of Latinos Ready to Vote and a former Candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. @