How to Find Your Immigration Lawyer

Finding a lawyer at the best of times is difficult, but when immigration and citizenship is involved it can seem so much harder. Here are some tips to get you started:


This is key when you are in the market for any lawyer, obviously, but it is so important it bears listing first and foremost. Law practice is complex, and laws are added, amended, changed, or made obsolete every day. It is important that they not just understand the law as they knew it when they passed the bar, but the law as it stands today, with all the changes that have taken place. Also key is making sure that your lawyers is trained in the specific laws of your state, as many laws vary based on location. If your lawyer doesn’t have the right information he or she can’t provide you with the best legal representation.



Your State Bar, National Immigration Law Center, American Immigration Lawyers Association are all good places to start. Your local state bar will be able to connect you with licensed lawyers in good standing, and point you in the direction of specialty practice if you have specific needs. NILC is a non-profit organization devoted to assisting low-income individuals with immigration services they can afford. AILA is a national association of attorneys and legal experts who can teach and/or practice immigration law, so this is a good place to begin a search and feel good that you are finding someone well-versed in immigration policy. An AILA membership is not required to practice immigration law, so membership can show that they have dedicated themselves specifically to the practice.



Ask friends, coworkers, family, or anyone else you know if they know an immigration lawyer. Even if they haven’t been through immigration processes themselves, they may know someone who has, or have heard of a success story in your area. People love to talk about good experiences, and love to talk about bad ones even more. Word of mouth, online reviews, and references from clients of the lawyers are all helpful when beginning your search. When you interview your lawyer, make sure to ask them for references from former clients, a reputable lawyer should be happy to introduce you.


Speaks Your Language:

Literally and figuratively. It is important that you fully understand your lawyer and that they understand you. Multi-lingual immigration lawyers exist is most places, and it is important to make sure that they are fluent in the language you speak natively. It is also important that you speak with them in person, trust them, and feel comfortable putting your future into their hands, so make sure that your personality and goals as client and lawyer are a good match. Honesty is key, and so is communication. Make sure that they are willing to educate you on your case so that you full understand their responsibilities, and your own.



Make sure that you understand the fees and costs. Some attorneys charge hourly fees while working on your case. Some charge a fee per task, set in advance. Some charge one single fee for the entire case, beginning-to-end. Make sure that you understand the pricing of your lawyer, and that you compare prices of more than one attorney to ensure you get one that fits your budget.

Immigrant Children Representing Themselves in Court

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Recently, during federal court proceedings, Senior Justice Department official Jack H. Weil, (who, along with other responsibilities, is tasked with training other judges in proper procedure and conduct,) made a statement under oath that he believes three and four year old migrant children can learn immigration law well enough to be able to represent themselves in court, which would in turn save the citizens the costs of assigning taxpayer-funded attorneys to them.

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil said. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

Obviously, the backlash to this statement from both legal experts, and child psychology experts, was immediate and disparaging. Obviously immigration law is a deep and complex branch of practice, and children of that age are still learning how to cooperate with other children and develop fine motor skills, let alone represent themselves in a court of law.

“I nearly fell off my chair when I read that deposition,” said Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University, who is a witness for the plaintiffs in the Seattle case. “Three- and 4-year-olds do not yet have logical reasoning abilities. It’s preposterous, frankly, to think they could be taught enough about immigration law to be able to represent themselves in court.”

This testimony from Justice Weil came out during a case that is arguing for legal representation for every indigent child who cannot afford a lawyer to represent themselves in court. Immigrant rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union are both demanding that the courts be required to provide this. The Justice Department is contesting suit, and Weil has, in the aftermath of his statement receiving loud and virulent backlash, insisted that the statements that are being attributed to him do not “present an accurate assessment of my views on this topic” and are being “taken out of context.”

The ACLU officials are nonplused by this recant. “This is the person in charge of training immigration judges about how to treat children? And this is the witness the government puts forward to present their views as to how this is supposed to happen?” said ACLU deputy legal director of Southern California Ahilan Arulanantham, the attorney who questioned Weil under oath. “That is horrifying.”

According to statistics that were collected by the Justice Department, more than twenty thousand unaccompanied children that were involved in deportation proceedings that took place over the course of 18 months from July 2014, a whopping 42% of those children had no attorney. In many cases the children facing these charges do not speak English, and are relying on government-provided interpreters to understand what is happening to them, let alone to understand how to argue for themselves in court. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats recently introduced legislation stipulating that government-appointed counsel be afforded to all children in immigration court who had crossed the border alone or are victims of other duress such as abuse, torture or violence.


US Immigration Law in Politics

Abogado Aly Immigration law in politicsStuart Anderson said, “The surest way to change the law in America is not by lobbying Congress but by convincing enough of the public the laws must be changed.”  When talking about the immigration debate in politics, there seems to be many political pressures felt by  policy makers to make the immigration policies we see today. Political pressures that cause policy, however, are different for every country because of geographical location, wealth, and beliefs and values. For example, in 1924, the United States Congress was forced to establish the U.S. Border Patrol to catch illegal Hispanic immigrants who were trying to run across the border to the United States. This is an example of the United States’ geographic location causing policy change. Canada does not have an illegal immigration problem because it only boarders the United States, so they do not need to put a lot of political resources in containing illegal immigration.

Throughout the history of Immigration Policy in both the United States and Canada, we can see different political pressures that affected both immigration policy. The opposition towards immigration to Canada and the U.S. was borne mostly by the Chinese during the mid to late 19th century. Not only was immigration rising during the mid to late 19th century, but diversity in the immigration groups was also on the increase. There were still English, Irish, and Germans coming into the United States and Canada; however, new ethnic groups, like Hispanics and Asians, were taking advantage of the great opportunities that these countries offered. This brought about a sense of national identity to the already settled natives, and their distrust and dislike for different ethnic groups were becoming greater and greater as the threat of an ethnic takeover was a possibility. What the natives felt threatened by was the different traditions, values, and loyalties that the diverse immigrant population would bring to what the natives  thought was an already great nation. There was even Protestant opposition towards the Catholics; however, there were already too many Catholics groups settled and not a big enough ratio of opposition towards them for legislation to be passed restricting Catholics. The Chinese came to the United States because of the gold rush and they were willing to work for lower wages than the natives. The natives did not feel like this was fair, so with extreme pressure from the West Coast and the Democratic party, the Republican Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.



Bureaucracy Laws Impede Immigration and Silicon Vally Growth

Abogado Aly Immigration LawImmigrating to the United States of America is not made easy by all of the laws an bureaucracies put in place. Many people in the United States are against amnesty and other forms of citizenship that allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Their rational being that if the illegal immigrants want to stay in the United States, they should apply for a visa and wait until they are legally approved. This makes sense at first glance, but within the constructs of the law is an extremely untimely bureaucratic process that gives immigrants little hope of living legally in the United States anytime soon.

A recent study done by Forbes suggests that a computer programer from India has to wait 35 years, on average, if they want to live “legally” in the United States. Someone from Mexico with a high school diploma has to wait an average of 130 years! Complex rules and regulations are creating a difficult situation for both immigrants and the United States.

Studies show that immigrants make up most of the founders in Silicon Valley as they invent things twice as fast as native-born Americans. A lot of Sillicon Vally tech startups are feeling handcuffed by the US immigration policy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hire highly skilled immigrants. The tech startup industry is all about speed and efficiency. The US immigration process is too slow for the hiring processes of these growing startups, which limits their hiring abilities and thus limits competition.

Low skill and high skill is not a factor in the start-up rat race. Labor is a spectrum where all levels of labor are needed to keep up in the industry. These startup companies are hoping that the immigration laws become more relaxed so that they can hire who they need to hire.



A History of the United States Immigration Policy

Abogado Aly Immigration History“What do the American people want immigration to do for the United States”[1]? According to George Borjas, one of the leading labor economists who specialize in immigration issues, this should be the fundamental question in the modern immigration debate. Technically, everyone who now lives in the United States has some ancestor that immigrated to the United States from abroad and there was a point in time where there was no immigration policy. As the United States became wealthier and wealthier, an immigration policy became necessary to keep overpopulation and major wealth divisions from happening. Typically, when policy makers of the world focus on the immigration debate, they seem to use economics as their main basis for policy change. This is how immigration policy is implemented in most countries. If immigration were to make the native people economically worse off, why wouldn’t a country impose a strict immigration policy? On the other hand, if immigration were to make the native population economically better off, why wouldn’t a country impose a more lose immigration policy? This paper will describe the political forces in Canada and the United States that led to their different historic approaches to immigration, and then analyze their respective current policies in both political and economic terms.

The United States is a nation of immigrants. During the colonial era, from 1607 to 1820, a little less than one million people arrived and settled in the United States which comprised of about 600,000 Europeans, about 300,000 African slaves, and a small mix of Scots, Irish, Dutch, Germans, Swedes, and French.[2] This was considered the first wave of immigration to the United States. The second wave occurred from the years between 1840 and 1870 where about 15 million immigrants entered the country. Most of the immigrants came from Ireland (because of the Irish Potato Famine) and Germany while some Spanish speakers were coming through the southwest region and Chinese laborers were coming to California (because of the California gold rush).[3] The third wave of immigration, during the years between 1880 and 1920, was really when immigration opposition began and the need for an immigration policy became apparent. During the third wave, there were about 25 million immigrants. Most came in from England, Ireland, and Germany; but this time around, there was an abundance of immigrants coming in from southern and eastern Europe: Italy, Poland, Greece, Russia, Hungry, and other smaller nations.[4] Immigration public policy was marginally discussed by the mid-19th century. There were minimal attempts to keep criminals and other extreme undesirables out, but other than that, immigration did not affect people’s lives enough for there to be public discussion about it.


[1]George J Borjas, Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1999) xvi.

[2] John Isbister, The Immigration Debate: Remaking America (West Hartford, CT: Kumarian, 1996)32.

[3] Isbister 32.

[4] Isbister 32.


Immigration Reform Needs Some Work

Abogado Aly Immigration ReformIn 2013, the Department of Homeland Security deported 368,644 immigrants from the United States at a rate of 1,010 people a day.

In the past, President Obama has trained Homeland Security to only target criminal immigrants who are a threat to the public and national security. This is not the case; however, since the number of immigrants deported last year would be an astonishing amount of felons. There were multiple immigrants deported for a simple traffic violation or misdemeanor. In New York, immigrants have been turned in for open container violations or sleeping in the subway. Because of this, the private detention centers that Homeland Security uses to house potential deport is pact to the brim with immigrants waiting for their removal hearings. Despite the ridiculous amount of mistreatment and poor conditions, the US Government has shown no sign in easing up on these allegations.

A recent study by a policy organization at Syracuse University discovered that persecutions for illegal reentry, which are classified as a felony, are rising even though prosecutions for illegal entry, which are classified as a petty misdemeanor, are falling. This is exactly why it was so disappointing to hear that the White House was going to delay their review of Homeland Security’s deportation policies for two months because Obama is trying to impress the Republicans at the House of Representatives.

The federal government also has a Secure Communities program that immediately captures people fingerprints at the time of their arrest, regardless of weather or not they have been convicted or charged with any crimes. This makes it a lot harder for the US government to capture real immigrant felons when they are relying on a database of 32 million individuals who may or may not be criminals.

Detainers are asked to keep immigrants incarcerated after their state or local charges have been revoked or their sentences expired so that the ICE has time to transfer them straight to federal custody. In the past couple of years, the City Council has passed laws that keep the Correction Department from honoring detainers except if the target person is a felon, committed a serious misdemeanor, seen on a terror watch list, has been previously deported, or meets other criteria. Today, lawyers estimate that the city enforces about 2/3 of ICE’s detainer requests.