when it’s too much

May 18, 2008

Just the other night I was e-chatting with a friend from immigrate2us.net and mentioned how difficult it is for me personally to be a consistent advocate for immigration reform. Having been a sort of religious fanatic for years, I burned out having to worry about a “cause” all the time, and while I have few doubts about my views on immigration, it’s a struggle to remain motivated.

Especially when most of the news suggests that increasing numbers of Americans resent immigrants, when deportations are on the rise, and there are few reports on the lost spouses and children who are separated from their families every day because of immigration laws.

And then something really horrible happens. It happened a year ago, to a woman I did not know personally. Her husband, waiting in his town in Mexico for his I-601 waiver to be approved so he could come back to the U.S., was randomly beaten to death. Senseless, violent acts that happen to people already separated from their loved ones.

This weekend, it happened again. Liz (not her real name) had been apart from her husband for about 6 months, since he went to his visa interview in the border town of Ciudad Juarez (where all U.S. immigrant visas are issued to Mexican applicants) last November. He was not immediately approved for his waiver and had to remain in Mexico waiting an estimated 6-12 months for a decision.

This weekend, he was kidnapped with two other men from the apartment he was renting in Ciudad Juarez and found dead several hours later.

Thinking objectively, violence happens. There is risk of violence and danger everywhere, although Ciudad Juarez is a violent city even by Mexican standards. It is the center of drug trafficking and a hub of many battles in the “war on drugs.”

But there is an extra measure of horror when a man has been, in many ways, needlessly separated from his wife and kids for six months and is then killed. When a woman has struggled for half a year to maintain her life without her partner, thinking every day: “we are one day closer to him coming back to us,” only to have that hope murdered.

And there is no solution, nothing that relatively few regular people can do to change this particular system. And I suppose that is why writing about immigration is a source of burnout and why I have to go to law school. To be able to do SOMETHING, even if that is just helping a few families get the assistance they need. But for today, there’s just anger and sadness at the injustice…


in and going

May 14, 2008

Well, who would have thought? Seven months after a few anonymous blog posts (elsewhere) about applying to law school, I’ve taken the LSAT, scored just well enough to slide into the excellent school in my Midwestern state capitol, (also my alma mater), decided to go, found housing, and begun warning my husband about my impending descent into 1L hell.

new vocabulary

May 14, 2008

Law school has its own terminology. Here are some things I have learned from recent reading:

One L/1L (n.) – A student in his/her first year of law school, or the actual first year of law school.

When you go to admitted students weekends people from the school introduce themselves as 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls, graduates or professors. There is also a famous book by Scott Turow titled “One L,” about his first year at Harvard Law in the 70s.

Socratic method (n.) – The method by which most (all?) law professors run their classes. This involves some variation on choosing one student per class period to answer questions about the case or issue being discussed. Depending on the professor there are apparently various levels of interrogation, and also various degrees to which a professor will accept the answer: “I’m sorry, I’m not prepared today.”

I have never, ever been the class-participation sort, so out of everything I have learned about law school, this part terrifies me the most. I had a vague idea of what the Socratic method was before a month ago (okay, that vague idea came from Legally Blonde) but the fear of being called on in class is one of my biggest challenges. I know I will have to overcome it. I will have to come to class prepared or deal with a deep sense of fear which will hinder my ability to take notes and learn.

Gunner (n.) – a law student who makes it a habit to voluntarily participate in class at every opportunity.

As I’ve just started orienting myself with the world of law school, I’m surprised how prevalent the frustration with the “gunner” is on blogs, forums, etc. I can only assume that is because every class has its gunners, meaning I will have to deal with them too. I will not be a gunner, and I will probably dislike the gunner(s). I don’t really enjoy people who believe in the inherent importance and special benefit of everything they have to say.

Class participation has nothing to do with ones grade in law school classes. Your grade depends completely on one exam at the end of the semester.


May 14, 2008

I was getting ready to write about some crazy, shocking, heart-breaking immigration stories today but this report from the Washington Post on the administration of anti-psychotic drugs to detainees is more shocking than anything I was going to post.

More on the engaged couple who the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez decided is actually married and therefore denied the wife’s visa later. Oh, and the couple who went through the entire foreign-filed waiver process (same as Fermin and I, just a few months later), including a 9- month separation, only to have their marriage questioned during adjustment of status. And the family who is facing a 10-year bar because the husband was actually deported from the country when he tried to cross the border years ago, and not “caught and released,” like most of us thought.

better luck next time

May 13, 2008

No free trip to Mexico for me. I did get an honorable mention though. Considering the other postings, I’m guessing it was between her and I, but that cheese-headed cat took the prize. Oh well!

random updates

May 12, 2008

So, last week I wrote several short entries for OnMilwaukee.com’s travel blog contest. They are nothing earth shattering, and most of these stories have previously been documented somewhere in my archives, but if you are interested, here are the links to: Christmas in a small, Mexican town; Hiking el rancho; Cooking adventures; and Looking ahead in West Texas. I could say that is why I didn’t blog here, but I’m not really sure if that is true. I’ve been busy. I am working on a project, working on my garden, planning a little work on my house and reading in preparation for law school.

It was fun to write some random travel posts though. I will find out tomorrow if I actually won an ironic 3-night trip to a swanky all-inclusive resort resort near Cancun.

Since I wrote this post about my summer reading list, I have returned Torts and Legal Research In a Nutshell as well as Scott Turow’s memoir One L. I read about half of One L, Turow’s account of being a first-year Harvard law student in the 70s, and while it’s a decent read, I don’t think it’s super representative of what I will experience as a woman at the University of Wisconsin in 2008, and the book wasn’t holding my attention enough to justify the time needed to finish it. I have been advised to buy a different set of summary-type books which I will use next year in place of the nutshell guides. I ordered those on half.com for far less than half their retail prices.

I have gotten a some hits from other law-school bloggers, and have linked a few interesting blogs in my sidebar. I also ended up in an e-study group with Terra Nullius and A Woman in Law School. We will start working through the exercises of another recommended pre-law school book, Legal Writing in Plain English, as soon as I get the book. I am currently reading, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams. I don’t really plan (or expect maybe) to excel on law school exams, but I wouldn’t mind if I did. I don’t need to be a top student to be an immigration lawyer, and frankly, most of the stuff I have to excel in to take these exams is fairly irrelevant to the eventual practice of immigration law.

However, my goal in preparing this summer is to alleviate the stress that I know is coming once school starts. The better equipped I am to deal with the mental challenges of law school, the less stressed I will be with studying, classes, etc, I hope. I am a married woman and will live in two cities starting in August. I will be returning to academia after six years of working. I am looking forward to the change, but not really to theĀ  additional stress.

shameless plug

May 6, 2008

I am participating in a blogging contest on OnMilwaukee to try and win a trip to, of all places, Mexico. I know I have been to Mexico a lot, but I would otherwise never go to a resort like the one they are promoting, and maybe a good pre-law school activity would be spending three nights near Cancun? In any case, I am going to blog 5-7 times this week, and I think it would be cool if some of you would check out my posts and maybe comment or rate them? Pretty please.

Muchas gracias!