Before coming to Washington DC, I lived in El Paso, Texas as a Teach for America corps member in the borderlands region. Based on this experience, as well as my familial roots in El Paso, I have grappled with my decision to practice law in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) region. People frequently ask me why I am not “in the trenches” in the borderlands region practicing immigration law, where the need for legal representation seems so much more dire and urgent.
However, in my first six months of working at CAIR Coalition, I have found that there is a major misconception about where immigration lawyers are needed. While there is definitely a need for immigration attorneys on the border, our country’s detention system is designed in a way that detains immigrants in places beyond the border, often with no rhyme or reason. In fact, many of the immigrant children sent to detention facilities in the DMV region often end up reunifying with a family member living in the DMV area, making the child eligible for CAIR Coalition representation. Generally, a common misconception is that all immigrants come to the United States with no ties, no connections, and no family. On the contrary, many immigrants have well-built networks on the East Coast, in the Midwest, or the southern areas of the United States.
With this in mind, I feel lucky to be able to serve a vulnerable immigrant population in the DMV area, and I hope that immigration attorneys continue to practice law in a diverse array of locations within the United States.