I wanted to post a quick thought while we’re all busy for the holidays.
I have now been at Milagros Immigration Law for about four and a half years. In that time, the thing that I have noticed, the thing that makes me the most proud, the thing that absolutely amazes and impresses me, is to see what happens when someone gets residency in the United States. It is amazing and beautiful and something that truly makes me proud to be an immigration attorney, and proud to be an American.
People become residents in many ways – whether it’s through asylum, cancellation of removal, a family petition, or through employment, it’s always almost universally the same. With all of the negative things people have said about immigrants over the past year, I have to say my experience could not be more different. I cannot think of a single person who I helped become a resident who has taken it for granted or abused it. Instead, almost universally, they become proud to be an American. They work even harder for their families and their communities (and they were already working hard in the first place). And, importantly, they become happier people, often at peace for the first time in their lives. I see this the most with asylees. They come to the United States escaping bad situations – often a combination of poverty and violence – with the hope that they can find safety and make a better life for themselves and their families. They’re scared, but they’re hopeful and striving for a better future. These are the people who pick themselves up by their bootstraps – they overcome more than any native-born American I have ever met.
Once they are granted asylee status in the US, you can immediately see the relief, but it usually takes a while to see the full effect – I think it takes a while for someone to fully accept their new future when their past was so full of violence and struggle. After about a year we hear back from them because it’s time to apply for residency. In that year they have become part of a community, are working, are providing for their families, are going to school or learning a new skill, and are incredibly grateful for what this country has given them – the chance to rise up.
If all Americans could see this side of immigrants – what I think is a nearly universal truth – I think many would come away with a new understanding and a changed opinion.
Thank you to all of our clients over the past year, and thank you to all of the people who come to this country to make a better life for themselves, because they in turn make us a better country.
Happy New Year!