Ed. Note: This is the latest in a series of articles about motherhood in the legal profession, made in collaboration with our friends at MothersEsquire. Welcome Nhu-Y Le to our website. Click here if you would like to donate to MothersEsquire.
“Can I move to Canada instead?”
A customer asked me this question when we were on the phone to discuss the schedule for their US green card process. This question came up almost three years ago and surprised me because most customers usually wanted to discuss their US immigration options and valued the US green card above everyone else.
It turns out that this was the first of many similar requests. Since then, I’ve received increasing interest in Canadian immigration, including requests from people who already have valid status in the United States.
As an economic migration attorney, my job is to help companies bring foreign talent to the US by applying to the government for work permits and green cards for highly skilled foreign workers. It was disturbing to see interest in US immigration from the pool of foreign talent declining.
Sure, the U.S. immigration system needed an overhaul, but it seemed like something deeper was going on. People were concerned about the cracks in American society.
And they were entitled to be concerned.
There were almost daily reports of escalating violence in the US due to racial tension that erupted after decades of cooking in a social pressure cooker. There were also signs of growing economic inequalities among hardworking people who struggled to make ends meet due to skyrocketing housing and health care costs. It felt like the US was slowly fading as a beacon of hope on the international migration map.
I can empathize with clients looking to explore other options outside of the US because I am a mom and an immigrant myself. As a mother, I naturally understood that people wanted the best future for their children. After all, I want the best for my 3 year old son too. Was America still the best place for him to grow up? If not, have I been insincere in helping other immigrant families – other parents with young children like mine – move to the United States amid the current social unrest?
For much of my career, I have prided myself on being an immigration attorney who was committed to helping other immigrants live better lives in the United States. But slowly doubts crept in and threw a fog about whether I was actually helping my customers. I had to think about whether I still believed the US was a good place for immigrants to live and raise their families.
I was trampling through this fog of uncertainty when I saw a video prepared by the Legalpad team. The video was a three-minute compilation of Zoom reactions from our clients, many of whom are startup founders, after learning that the government agreed to their petitions to move to the US to grow their businesses. Some people cried. Others screamed and cheered. One person was so surprised that he yelled, “Holy s * it!”
What all of the reactions agreed was the hope these customers had in the US. In their eyes, the US was the key to the success of their company.
These startup founders have ideas that could change the world, and they believe the US was the place to seed the innovation of breakthrough technologies that could revolutionize the industry. They believe the US was still the center for innovation, investment, mentoring, expertise, and professional connection. Here they wanted to expand their companies.
I re-watched the video over a dozen times because it gave me new hope. I cried when I saw the video and I even showed it to my son. (Granted, he’s a toddler with a short attention span and didn’t appreciate the video as much as I did).
Yes, there is racial tension, economic inequality and political turmoil in the US. These are serious issues that should not be taken lightly. As a society, we need to work together proactively to solve these systemic problems.
However, the video lifted the fog in my head because it was a reminder of the American dream. The ingenuity of the American people, the freedom to innovate, and the friendliness of the majority of Americans were qualities that drew startup founders to the United States. The video reminded me of why I became an immigration lawyer. I believe the US is still the best place in the world for immigrants to come up with new ideas and create opportunities for themselves. In this land dreams are made.
I want to raise my child in the USA. In the United States, I want other people to be able to raise their children.
Every time I experience excitement and joy when a customer learns that their immigration application has been approved, it confirms that I am doing the right job. I can confidently say that I can look my son in the eye when he is older and proudly tell him about my life’s work of bringing other immigrant families to the United States.
Nhu-Y Le is Corporate Counsel at Legalpad, a technology startup specializing in immigration issues. Previously, she was an internal immigration consultant for a Fortune 100 technology company. Nhu-Y graduated from Boston College Law School. In her spare time, she enjoys watching cooking shows with her 3 year old son and reading crime novels. You can follow her on LinkedIn for US immigration information and email her at [email protected]