Hope

hopeWEB

Just when I thought that nobody gave a flip about the Undocumented, my wife and I stumbled upon an amazing non-profit organization called the Hope Resource Center of McKinney.

Six weeks into my wife’s pregnancy, we walked into the Hope Resource Center clueless, scared and concerned about our future.

The general advice I’d received from almost every hospital nurse that I’d talked to was to tell my pregnant and undocumented wife to hang in there, take prenatal supplements and then dash to the nearest hospital ER when her water broke.

As far as we were concerned, there was no way in Hades we were going to do that to our unborn child. So we ignored their horrendous advice and began looking for a center that would counsel us and point us in the right direction.

After some googling and calling around, we came across the Hope Resource Center and made an appointment with them . We arrived at the Resource Center on the appointed day with many questions, fears and reservations. Our trepidation was laid to rest when a very sweet Nurse came up to us and asked to see my wife. Later, she came and asked me if I wanted to join my wife in her office.

I jumped at the opportunity because I had a question. It seemed to me like every other second, my pregnant wife would complain that she was tired. So I asked the Nurse if this “tiredness” complaint would be there through all three semesters.

The Nurse smiled and instead of calling me a moron for saying semester instead of trimester, she assured me that it was natural for pregnant women to be tired. “Her tiredness” she said, “is because, among other things, the baby inside her is growing by leaps and bounds.”

About a week later we returned to the Resource Center for a free ultrasound. Nothing really prepares you for that very first image of your unborn child. Though hazy and still not really defined, I saw my child in all its glory. It was at that moment, it really dawned on me that I was going to be a father!

The staff at the center couldn’t have been nicer. They rejoiced with us as we watched the ultrasound of our baby and, before we left, they gave us hugs, gifts and promised to pray for our immigration situation. Their compassion and genuine love for us made up for all the hate, spite and insensitivity we’d received over the course of this past year.

After receiving ultrasound photos of our unborn child, a handmade shawl and a devotional book, my wife and I hopped into our ride and drove to the other side of town to meet with our immigration lawyer. We’d just left a place that was full of hope, love and support and were heading into the real world; a world that seemed to care less about us because of our immigration status.

My Story.

Everyone who has ever been deported or is in deportation proceedings has a story. Some peoples stories are sad, others tragic, others are absurd. Mine my friend was the latter.

How and where did I get “busted”? Well, I’m embarrased to say that I was busted while I was using the bathroom. Yes, I was on the porcelain throne, the mighty John…I was in the crapper when a whippersnapper of an Immigration and Customs Agent (ICE) burst into my bathroom and asked me to show him where my hands were and step out of the bathroom. This guy had a gun, a badge and a mean looking face. This guy was the real deal.

I remember that day really vividly. Before that, ICE agents were to me an urban myth. A thing of legend. I had heard rumors that the immigration agents in Texas had been cracking down on international students who had overstayed their visas. For some reason I felt immune to the wrath of ICE but it turns out that my days were numbered. My day of reckoning had arrived I was about to be ICE’d. Continue reading

How to pick an immigration lawyer.

After you get caught your life will never be the same again. I was so traumatized after being visited early this year by  two ICE agents. It dawned on me the day after I was released from custody that I needed a lawyer.

I needed a damn good lawyer, one that would fight for me with every fiber of their being. Sadly, such lawyers are few and far between. My search for a lawyer took me all over my city. I even spent a fortune interviewing and consulting lawyers. I eventually found a lawyer who was a perfect fit for me.

Here are some of the things one needs to think about when finding an immigration lawyer who is the prefect fit for you.

1. Price: Most lawyers have a consultation fee. In my experience the fees start at $50. Sometimes the lawyer will subtract the consultation fee from the total bill if you decide to go with him or her. Make sure to find out if the lawyer is billing you by the hour or whether he or she has a flat fee. Be on the lookout for hidden fees.

2. Gender: Gender doesn’t matter. I know people don’t like admitting that they’d rather have a male lawyer instead of a female lawyer. Truth be told I have found female lawyers to be way, way on top of their game than their male counterparts. But that’s just my observation.

3. Free Lawyers: To me they are a myth, a legend, just like the unicorn or the mermaid. Don’t get me wrong, i’m sure they exist but i’m yet to see one in their natural habitat. I’m also sure they are a rare species because my guess is a lawyer’s got to pay the rent and like my hommie MC Ray Marcusi says; “Dude, ‘free’ don’t pay da rent!”

I think that when it comes to lawyers, you get what you pay for.

When you get your Notice To Appear (NTA), the kind and benevolent folks at ICE will include in it a page that has a free legal services providers list. Don’t even bother looking at it. It’s a waste of time. I researched the list and most of those organizations that were on the list weren’t helpful to me. Many are swamped with immigration cases as well as inquiries from people like you and me who want to be represented for free. My advise would be to bite the bullet and hire yourself a good immigration attorney, one who you can afford.

4. Reputation: I have heard so many horror stories of lawyers really screwing their clients over. It’s really heartbreaking. To some lawyers you are just a paycheck. The money you give him/her will probably go to buying a single meal at The Ritz Carlton or some other fancy restaurant. This person is going to be defending you. His defense will determine the course of your future so you better choose one wisely. Do your homework, ask friends  and family members if they know any good lawyers. Do your homework thoroughly as though your life depended on it because really it does.

  • Tip: After someone recommends a lawyer to you get online and Visit the State Bar Website of the state you live in. I live in Texas so my State Bar website is http://www.texasbar.com/.  Then click on the link for “Find a Lawyer.” Type in your lawyers full name or bar number into the search box and click on “Submit.” You will find almost all there is to know about the lawyer you are thinking of hiring.
  • Another Tip: Here is a site you can use to find a local immigration lawyer http://www.ailalawyer.com/