I practice immigration law in the rural, small capitol city of Charleston, West Virginia. This is not a place one would expect to find a thriving immigration law practice. However, I believe that the need has always existed here, despite preconceived notions that we are all poor, white, coal miners, and people would be surprised at the number of clients we have helped along the way, even in Appalachia. Clients used to come to my office after they ran into trouble more often than not, and I was forced to fix issues rather than strategically create a plan of action. But ever since Donald Trump was elected to office I have seen a large uptick in calls from potential new clients who are simply scared they are going to be rounded up and shipped back to whatever country they came from and wish to get compliant from the get-go.
There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, I hate to see people afraid of a US President; however, I have always advised people and have advocated for legal immigration as the best--and only true way to immigrant. If fear of increased enforcement makes people immigrant to the US the correct way, then that is fine with me. On the other hand, before this wave of "fear" I would often -- and still do -- get calls from immigrants who have long overstayed visas and who are facing 10 year bars from re-entry into the US. There are many horror stories of good people just simply not following the law and ultimately having to pay the price. The law is the law, and it doesn't care if you are a nice person. As a lawyer, my job is to get my clients to understand that it is always worthwhile to do the right thing.
In sum, I get how many perceive the President when he talks about deporting Mexicans and other illegals and "building a wall." I know that this type of rhetoric is scary to most, including those who are just trying to immigrant legally. However, if there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that more and more people who have or wish to immigrate to the US are calling immigration lawyers like myself much earlier in the process to make sure that they do so the right way--the way that provides them with peace of mind, and that is ultimately a good thing.
Seth Gaskins is a West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida immigration lawyer and founder of Cardinal Immigration, an immigration law firm providing legal services in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia and other underserved areas in the East Coast. Seth believes that immigrants in these areas are underserved and strives to provide these individuals with exceptional legal services that otherwise would require travel to big cities and large fees.
Seth S. Gaskins, Esq.