It’s no secret that during the past two years immigration as an issue and a problem has taken center stage in my life. Years back, my husband’s undocumented status seemed almost a novelty. Not the lack of status, I suppose, as much as the values behind it: the decision to come to the U.S. at age 19 to work, a decision that undeniably lifted his 10-member family out of dire poverty in a matter of a few years, is still, to me, remarkable.
In early 2005, married a little less than a year, we started the long process toward changing that legally defined status. There was paperwork, waiting, an interview in Mexico, an 11-month separation, and finally, in July, there was a green card. Thankfully, immigration is no longer an issue in my marriage, but it is still all around me: I see it in the news, in the blogs, the issue’s toll on people that I interact with every day, in the voices of old friends.
During the last 18 months, among the things that helped me keep my life together was learning about as much immigration law as possible. It started on the immigrate2us.net forum, and once I started understanding the laws that applied to our situation, I wanted to know others. I found that my logical side (thanks Dad) seems well-adapted to understanding and applying laws, and my level-headed sense of compassion (thanks Mom) allows me to empathize with people without becoming irrational.
My current job allows me plenty of time to post on the forum, and my typing speed and love for writing hasn’t hurt my capacity to be one of the top posters on I2US. (Okay, okay, the top poster). After a while, answering questions, helping people with their hardship arguments and becoming more and more proficient with the way some of the laws work, I started to think, “sheesh, I really should have been a lawyer.”
Laurel Scott, the attorney specializing in I-601 waivers like the one my husband needed to get his visa, also a member of I2US, once mentioned that she had waited several years between her undergraduate graduation and her decision to go to law school. It was a subtle hint of sorts, but at that time, before we were certain about our future, I just laughed off the idea.
But as the summer ended and our life got back to a wonderful normalcy, I couldn’t kick the law school idea. I have never been interested in being a salesperson for life, but part of me has always thought my future would involve some sort of writing career. The problem with a writing career is what makes me such a happy blogger – never wanting to write about something I couldn’t give a shit about. I’ve rarely regretted not becoming a professional reporter for exactly this reason. Only a fraction of lucky journalists get to cover things they actually care about. I’d much rather sell vaccines than be one of the rest.
A friend’s boyfriend is a first-year law student, and we started chatting about it regularly. She kept saying: “I think you should do it!” “You would be great!” I kept saying, “I can’t believe I am even talking about this – Law school??? I’m 28, this is crazy!!” Nevertheless, I succumbed to ‘net temptation and read the entire University of Wisconsin Madison law school web site. Then the friend gave me her boyfriend’s e-mail. He laid it out there: if you want to pursue this for 2008, you’re going to have to take the LSAT in December and apply to UW as soon as possible. He told me what the best prep books were, and gave me a lot of great tips. I talked to Fermin, and he said go for it.
I decided to stop blogging for a while for a number of reasons. I hadn’t been feeling very inspired. I had a steady stream of drafts that I never finished. I don’t want to post the same articles and commentary that a number of other great pro-immigrant bloggers are already doing. I didn’t exactly have a direction for this blog, and I like at least a little direction. Besides, I knew the next 4-6 weeks were going to involve copious amounts of study time at coffee shops and libraries, and focus would be key. I also needed to write personal statements, compile application materials, and most of all, practice, practice, practice. It’s not that I couldn’t still keep the blog running, but it just seemed like a good time for a little break.
And here I am. The LSAT is next Saturday. (Wish me luck). Despite my initial goal of UW Law or nothing, I’ve decided to apply to Marquette University here in Milwaukee as well. Besides the obvious benefits of not having to move, they have a part-time evening program that I could do while continuing at my current job. Besides, UW is top 25, and it will be significantly easier for me to get into Marquette.
If I get in, it will take a while, but I will eventually go into the private practice of immigration law. It’s lame to say, “I want to help people,” but that is definitely a big factor. So is the idea that I would have a very secure and flexible career doing something challenging and rewarding. So is the idea that I would be able to assist lots of people like like Fermin and myself, who wandered into this process confused and came out informed, successful and stronger for it. A lot of people in my life have recently suggested – “oh, you could do family law, or adoption law,” but no, I don’t want to do any of those things. Never say never of course, but this decision is based on a desire to help immigrants and their families, and in an abstract way, to affirm the good parts of our nation’s history in our modern world.
I’ll be around.