Friday, February 27, 2009
By now, we are all aware that the immigration system is very much a believer that immigrants are guilty until they can prove otherwise. Guilty of what you ask? I don’t know and neither does INS or ICE-they are just guilty. This story is a direct result of immigrants and detainees having no right to court appointed lawyers and then having to resort to inexpensive and sometimes inadequate legal service. In this story we have a Dominican immigration attorney who practiced law in Dominican Republic but was never admitted to the bar in the United States. This man, Mr. Espinol, nonetheless declared himself an immigration attorney and targeting desperate immigrants, abused of the trust his Latino immigrant clients put in him. Mr. Espinol received payments from his low-income clients but would not file applications for green cards when he was paid for that among other services. Mr. Espinol infuriates me. Here is a man, in the position to help his community. The assumption is that he knows the despair in his clients; that he understands. Instead Mr. Espinol abused and exploited some of the most vulnerable people who sought him out for help. At the mercy of volunteer lawyers from the City Bar Association (NYC) in a legal clinic, Mr. Espinol’s clients find themselves in a dire situation. Some face deportation and have missed deadlines to file applications among other things. This story should remind us of the great responsibility we have taken. Many of us have met our clients and need no reminder of how REAL this is. I don’t want to resemble this Mr. Espinol not one second throughout this semester in respect to the inadequacy of my service to the client I am working with. This goes for all of us. We may not be real immigration attorneys, but everything we read, write, touch is real in these cases, and we must always be true to that.