Wednesday, June 20, 2012

AILA and Attorney Linda Rose on New Immigration Policy

By Cindy McCain

Last week on Thursday, June 14, I scheduled an interview for the following day with Attorney Linda Rose.  I was covering sessions at the Annual Conference on Immigration Law held by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in Nashville at Opryland Hotel. The stated purpose of the organization representing more than 11,000 professionals is to “promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.”

When I asked the AILA staff if there was anyone who could provide information for a “Layman’s Guide to Immigration Law,” the immediate suggestion was “resident expert” Rose; in fact, she was to receive the 2012 Susan D. Quarles AILA Service Excellence Award that night.

In her twenty-five years of practicing immigration law, Rose has served two years as MidSouth Chapter Chair and twelve as a member of the nationally elected AILA Board.  An adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School twelve years, she is listed on the Fulbright Specialist roster and was also recently awarded two Fulbright grants to teach comparative immigration law abroad.  Having taught lawyers and written articles on topics such as Prevailing Wages, PERM Labor Certification, H-1B Labor Condition Applications, and National Interest Waivers, she was a roundtable panelist on a conference session called “’Song for a Star’: Issues and Strategies for Athletes, Artists, Entertainers, and Other Extraordinary Individuals.”

Like many of her clients, she is a scholar, athlete, and artist herself. She practiced Go-Ju karate for 30 years.  Her sensitivity to cultural issues has been honed not only by a Master’s degree in Anthropology but also by living in Mexico and traveling multiple times to Africa. In addition to studying at Berklee College of Music, she learned to play the gyil (African xylophone) in Ghana, which she incorporates into her band, Rose on Vibes Quintet.  After our interview on Friday she was scheduled to play for conference attendees before dinner.

Just before I sat down with Rose on June 15, 2012, all had changed. On Thursday I had witnessed passionate and pragmatic professionals staying the course, Republicans and Democrats, working with what is while wearily waiting for what should be--real  reform of a broken system.  On Friday, the conference air was electric with renewed hope and elated energy. President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security will no longer initiate the deportation of illegal immigrants who are under the age of 30 if they were brought to the United States before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, and are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans with clean criminal records.

AILA had responded with an official statement:

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) applauds today’s announcement offering Deferred Action to eligible younger immigrants. This action will change the lives of young people who call America home, but who have been unable to live free from the fear of deportation to a country they may not even remember.

'Both sides of the aisle in Congress are discussing solutions for this highly deserving group. By using its legal authority to provide temporary protection from the threat of deportation and enable these young people to actively and openly contribute to our society and economy, the Administration is addressing an issue that has broad bipartisan support,' AILA President Laura Lichter said.

'This represents a triumph of reason over rhetoric,” Lichter continued. “However, it does not offer a permanent fix for these young people. This announcement creates space for Congress to truly take on this issue and find the desperately needed solutions to our broken immigration system.'
It was finally time to begin the interview with Linda Rose.  As impressed as I already was with the list of accomplishments of the Superwoman seated beside me, I admired even more than her intellect or prowess her humanity, her compassion. Still reacting to the President’s announcement, the American whose family members were immigrants from Portugal and Italy said with conviction, “There are no illegal human beings.”  And then she spoke of the children affected.

I asked her to outline myths about immigration, to explain how the system is broken and how it might be fixed.  What I learned from her and other experts will be kept for another time.  

Below is the part of the interview focused on the new policy.  Rose advises that those directly affected seek a reputable attorney whose expertise is immigration.  She recommends in addition to her office, Rose Immigration Law Firm which offers a financial sliding scale,  the Bar Association and Catholic Charities for referrals to competent, affordable legal advice.

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