I have been practicing immigration law for over 30 years. I was originally attracted to the field because it offered the opportunity not only to help people in a truly meaningful way, but to contribute to this country. I see immigration as a core value and critical lifeline of the United States. It’s a vital resource that has driven this country from its beginning and defines who we are as a people. Except for a very small number of indigenous Native Americans, we are all “from away.“ Our ancestors are likely to have come to America seeking opportunity and personal freedom and, in truth, are not really all that different from the folks who are arriving on our shores today. My ancestors fled the pogroms of Czarist Russia arriving in New York in the 1890s with not much more than the clothes on their backs, dreams of economic opportunity in their heads and the longing for personal freedom in their hearts. Therefore, for many reasons immigration truly resonates for me. Although I know I could have made more money practicing a different field of law, I can frankly say that I do not know another field in which I could have obtained a greater sense of personal satisfaction.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of being able to help many foreign physicians practice in medically underserved areas throughout the U.S., to assist universities, colleges and research institutions to employ outstanding professors and researchers, as well as to work with many businesses to allow them to employ foreign workers with critically needed skills. Of all the cases I have handled in my more than 30 years of the practice of law, I can honestly say the cases that have been some of the most rewarding have involved representing persons who have fled persecution abroad and have come to the U.S. seeking asylum. From the Iranians exiles in the early 80s, Russian dissidents in the 90s, and Africans escaping genocide today, I will never, ever forget anyone of these clients and their remarkable stories. If I could, I would devote all my time and energy working on these kinds of cases. Unfortunately, however, I would not be able to make a living doing this work, or even handling a significant number of these matters at one time. These cases are just too large, require too many resources and, needless to say, almost always involve clients with no money. The stakes are staggering, life and death hang in balance, so the emotional toll and stress involved can be overwhelming.
This is the work the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) does every day. The amazing attorneys, paralegals, staff and volunteers at ILAP help new immigrants who do not have the resources to obtain representation and have no other place to turn. Statistically, the significance of representation involving asylum claims is mindboggling. Only 10% of individuals without legal representation in the asylum process have their cases granted. On the other hand, nearly 90% of asylum applicants who are represented prevail. It is therefore no exaggeration to say the work ILAP does saves lives. ILAP also helps a great many people; nearly 3,000 persons a year receive services from ILAP and virtually no other organization in Maine provides similar services.
Please join me in supporting a truly remarkable organization by making a generous financial contribution; anything you can afford will be greatly appreciated.
If you know of someone else who might be willing to support ILAP, by all means please pass this along: ~~: http://www.crowdrise.com/OpenDoor-ILAP/fundraiser/peterlandis Thank you.
I remain forever grateful,
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