Practicing DC Immigration Law

As an immigrant and a Latina woman, I have always felt that I should be of service to my community. I felt that being a lawyer would provide an opportunity to represent and advocate for those communities that were marginalized or subjugated. I was not completely sure what more I would embrace as an attorney or even what area of law I should practice, but I saw the legal profession as a logical means of accomplishing that goal.

I did not know that I wanted to practice law in the traditional sense (as in providing direct services to clients) when I first began law school. In fact, that is why the first two years of my career were dedicated to doing advocacy through a non-profit organization agency rather than representing individual clients. It was not until I became a project attorney for that organization, supervising a legal orientation program for custodians of unaccompanied minors, that I realized I needed to shift my focus to direct services and give back to my community in a more immediate fashion.

Main Area of Practice

For my entire career, I have been practicing immigration law. I began doing immigration advocacy with a DC-based nonprofit organization and after a few years shifted my focus and began representing clients before USCIS and in the immigration courts

Immigration law is understanding the prescribed procedures for entry into a territory, remaining within that territory, and the procedures of removal from the same.  The very essence of the concept nation-states permits the regulation of the entry, stay, and removal of individuals within its borders.

Immigration law therefore also concerns the treatment of those immigrants once inside a country’s borders, which delves into issues of due process, equal treatment, and the economic, political, and social implications of the immigration system.

A Passion for Immigration

My passion for immigration comes from my experience as an immigrant. When I first arrived in the United States, there was a certain air of mystery to the United States Immigration System. My parents were treated just as other immigrants; they went through the process of residency, and I ultimately obtained citizenship in the United States.

However, these processes were extremely confusing to my parents.  I recall as a small child translating forms for my Spanish-speaking parents, explaining what documents were needed, and when to submit them to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

To an intending immigrant understanding what forms to complete, what documents to send, and determining how long the process will take, can lead to a great degree of frustration. This frustration derives from navigating immigration procedures that appear overly complicated and tedious.

However, my goal as an advocate is to try to avoid or minimize the apprehension and frustration with the immigration process. As I got older, my passion for immigration only grew with the implementation of stricter immigration laws and policies. I viewed these new changes as an affront to the American ideals and values that led my family to immigrate.

Typical Immigration Cases

My cases go from removal defense, family petition, employment-based petitions, and certain visas where the immigrant is a victim of crime and victims of trafficking. All my cases involve individuals with different statuses. I have clients who are present in the US undocumented, abroad awaiting entry to the United States (both under immigrant and non-immigrant status), and clients present in the United States who would like to extend their stay, or, change from non-immigrant to immigrant status.