Turkey Tales and Supreme Court Travails

A few weeks ago, I put on a suit and was driving to San Francisco from my mountain home to represent a client. I live on a private narrow road with only room for one car. So if another car is coming from the other direction, someone has to back up and find a turn-out. It is intimidating at first, but with practice it works.

That morning when I was leaving my neighborhood, a family of turkeys was in the middle of the road. By family, I mean a mom, a dad, and TEN spunky babies! I stopped and my neighbor came over and said, “They’ve been doing this all morning! Just drive and they’ll get out of the way.” So I drove. But they didn’t get out of the road. Instead, the mom starting moving down the road quickly, and the babies lined up behind her keeping her quick pace. The dad turkey was running along side my car on the driver’s side. He was so tall that when I glanced out that window, his face was right there.

Suffice it to say that living up here has changed me. I stayed with those turkeys until they decided to take a turn-out. I just slowed down and watched those little babies in front of my car. I surrendered to almost inactivity on my part. In a world where we are valued by what we do, I cherish these moments of living when I am not doing much but watching this glorious life.

This observation of life has come to play as my role as an immigration lawyer. In my legal career, I have not seen big changes or advances in immigration law. Yes, I have seen many good fixes and new programs to help my clients. But I have had to observe time and time again great ideas and proposals disappear without becoming reality. I have developed a comfortable distance – like my car and the turkey family around me – to experience it but not be consumed by the outcome.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court tied 4-4 in the United States v. Texas case addressing DAPA and expanded DACA. When the decision came down, I was fortunate to be with my colleagues at the annual conference of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) and to hear a keynote address from Thomas A. Saenz, an amazing attorney who argued the case in front of the Supreme Court. He expertly addressed all the ways that the government has not done its job to help immigrant families. This may be true. But what struck me was that he, as a civil rights lawyer and leader, acknowledged that while we may not have won this time, we will eventually win. And we must suffer these so-called “losses” to get there.

Yes, this rings true for me. All social change is inevitable since it is in our collective consciousness to make things better. We must simply have the confidence that we are on the right path. For me, the turkeys just reminded me that literally there will be obstacles in the road. Please do not get discouraged by the latest development in immigration law; this is long road and we will get there, no matter what comes into our path.

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