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AthleteI am Nadia Kean, AKA Smarty Pants, a skater for USA roller derby. AMA!

Apr 5th 2017 by SmartyPantsRD • 36 Questions • 243 Points

My short bio:

My name is Matt Cameron. I think about, write about, and practice immigration law nearly seven days a week. I have been a licensed attorney for twelve years as of September, and the managing partner of a three-attorney law office in the Boston area for the past seven years with a special focus on deportation defense and mitigating the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. I teach "Immigration and Urban America" at Northeastern University's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, am a member of the board of the Student Immigrant Movement, and regularly contribute background and commentary to local, state, national, and international media on American immigration matters.

I am here for you to AMA because there is probably no other major public policy issue in the U.S. with such a massive gap between the realities of the current policies and what Americans seem to believe the policies actually are. While the other big issues du jour like healthcare and climate change usually touch on things that we all have to live with, immigration is not an issue that most U.S. citizens ever have to personally confront in their own lives. (This, among many other things, might explain why we just elected a man who ran on the ugliest and most determinedly nativist platform in a century or more of American history while willfully failing to inform himself as to the system that we actually have.)

I thought an AMA might be one easy thing that I could do right now to do my part to fill the gap. For as long as I have been studying this issue, I have always seen people ask counterfactual questions like "why don't they just get in line?" or "why can't you fill out the forms like everyone else?" or "what part of legal immigration don't you understand?", and I thought this might be a good way to provide concise, factual answers to these counterfactual inquiries that could be useful to anyone who is genuinely trying to understand this stuff as well as to gain the benefit of the experience of discussing all of this with people beyond my immediate and extended social circles. (And to be clear: any and all of those three questions are absolutely welcome for further discussion, as are any others at all so long as they are made in good faith. Trolls will starve.)

I will keep my answers as objective and factually-grounded as possible, but full disclosure: I do have a strong pro-immigration (and pro-immigrant) bias, and am well past the point where I can study or work within the American immigration system without recognizing that it is foremost a function of centuries of historic racism and colonialism. So I won't pretend that I don't have my own ideological approach to this... but I also truly believe that immigration should be a non-partisan issue, and one which deserves an adult, open-minded dialectic.

I WILL NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR ANYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE LEGAL ADVICE here, so please no questions requesting a complete review of possible options once your H1B has expired or if your arrest record could cause current or future immigration problems or if you have all of the right supporting documents for your marriage visa or whatever. I am more than happy to answer those questions--on the phone or in person--for money.

My Proof:

1) My MA ID and bar card: http://imgur.com/gallery/kUenPeW

2) My FB page, in which most of my public posts are about immigration issues: http://facebook.com/mattcameronlaw

3) Twitter: @matt_cam

4) A recent piece in The Baffler on the realities of the American deportation machine: https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/strangers-in-a-cruel-land

5) Boston Globe story on three of my cases this week: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/27/vermont-activists-set-post-bond-immigration-charges/eIcbvNUSCoXJqI4SQDeU5I/story.html

6) Interview this morning on Democracy Now: https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/31/is_ice_targeting_undocumented_activists_for

Q:

Hey Smarty Pants! LOVED watching you skate the All Star Game at NEDC 2016!

Do you have any advice for how to mentally deal with facing skaters that are much, much more advanced in skills? I played a mashup scrimmage this past Sunday between our league's A and B travel teams recently and while my fellow B Team blockers were pumped at the opportunity to play with and against our own Lake Effect Furies, as a B Team Jammer, I felt nothing but fear and anxiety, which led me to be pretty down on myself before, during and after. How do I turn these experiences into positives?

A:

What would be the best way for attorney's who don't have a background in this area to help out?


Q:

Hey! You skate with Buffalo!

You're going to be an underdog so often that you really need to go into games thinking about yourself and your team rather than the competition. It sounds like you shut yourself down before the game even started! I'm lucky enough to play some of the best skaters in the world, so many skaters that I compete against are so talented, that if I hyper focused on their talent I'd never step on the track! I'd recommend that you go into every practice and every game expecting it to be hard, so that you're not surprised when it is hard.

A:

This doesn't seem to be a popular answer whenever anyone asks me this... but my first response is that if you are an attorney who does not practice immigration law, there is a much better chance that you are earning a decent living and could be in a position to help to fund the work of dedicated immigration attorneys and advocates. Consider becoming not just a donor, but a regular sustainer of a local or national organization (other than the ACLU, which I love but is doing just fine without you) which does immigration-specific work that you believe in.

I would recommend one of the following:

The Student Immigrant Movement (full disclosure: I'm on the board), which is helping DREAMers organize to protect DACA and one another: http://www.simforus.org

Kids in Need of Defense provides attorneys for minors in deportation proceedings who are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile status (a rare path to citizenship with several moving parts that most of us can't afford to do in full pro bono): http://www.supportkind.org

The National Immigration Law Center (http://nilc.org) was on the front lines of Drumpf's travel ban and has provided invaluable litigation support and resources for attorneys around the country.

Here in MA, the PAIR Project (pairproject.org) helps to set interested attorneys up with pro bono immigration cases while providing basic training and support for them. If you want to help, you may have a similar organization in your area that could use your time, money, and/or talents.


Q:

Hey Smarty! One of your TXRD babies here!

So you started not just on the banked track, but with a banked track league that heavily favors entertainment, crazy costumes, fighting, etc. Now of course, you play at a high level of derby that resembles most modern sports in structure. You are a rare example of a skater who has seen derby from every level.

My questions are:

1- Do you believe there is room for "entertainment"/costumes/penalty wheels/all of that in modern roller derby of any kind?

2- Do you believe that it's possible for leagues that value entertainment as part of their sport to be competitive?

3- Generally, how do you feel about these two worlds and how they interact with each other? Should they be interacting more, or is it time for old school derby to die out? Where do you see derby in 20 years in that regard?

Thank you so much for chatting with us today! You are a very lovely person!

A:

Boston's WBUR just reported on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detaining five individuals who had "final orders for removal". They had shown up for interviews as part of the process of applying for a green card.

ICE Arrests Green Card Applicants In Lawrence, Signaling Shift In Priorities
http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/03/30/green-card-ice-arrests-lawrence

What are final orders for removal?

And, care to comment on this new development and, objectively, what it means for the various stakeholders (persons, people, government, etc.) as well as those on the spectrum of the immigration debate (both those for and against deportation of illegal/undocumented persons)?


Q:

Hey Jane! You're not a baby! But I will answer your question.

A:

This was big news in the local immigration law community this week... heard the rumor by email and I was actually on a panel a few hours later with Lawrence's (awesome) new state rep Juana Matias who confirmed early details.

A "removal" order is just the legal name for an order of deportation. Showing up to an immigration office with an old deportation order over your head is kind of like showing up to a courthouse with an old outstanding warrant... there's always a chance you'll be held. As with warrants, though, there are quite a few people out there living their lives who do not know or understand that they have these orders--which typically come either from being caught at the border and immediately returned, or from missing a scheduled immigration court hearing.

But just for perspective, this was a totally routine practice before Obama. It's only making news now because (1) it's been more than eight years since it was done anywhere and (2) Trump.

The bigger question for me is how the local USCIS district director (who is known to be firmly against allowing ICE to enforce on USCIS property) allowed (or was made to allow) this to happen.

I will say that immigration lawyers (myself included) got complacent under Obama. Although his administration was far from soft on deportations, it ended these kinds of inhumane enforcement tactics. Walking a client with an old order into a USCIS interview (always risky and never advised) is now only one of many chances that we can absolutely no longer afford to take.


Q:

Hey Smarty! One of your TXRD babies here!

So you started not just on the banked track, but with a banked track league that heavily favors entertainment, crazy costumes, fighting, etc. Now of course, you play at a high level of derby that resembles most modern sports in structure. You are a rare example of a skater who has seen derby from every level.

My questions are:

1- Do you believe there is room for "entertainment"/costumes/penalty wheels/all of that in modern roller derby of any kind?

2- Do you believe that it's possible for leagues that value entertainment as part of their sport to be competitive?

3- Generally, how do you feel about these two worlds and how they interact with each other? Should they be interacting more, or is it time for old school derby to die out? Where do you see derby in 20 years in that regard?

Thank you so much for chatting with us today! You are a very lovely person!

A:

keep my answers as objective

Then don't call him Drumpf. I'm pro-immigration too but unflattering nicknames are not helpful for persuading those who are not.


Q:

I need to think about how I want to answer your question, so I'll get back to it, I promise.

A:

Agreed--although it's more historical than unflattering--but this wasn't intentional. I still have John Oliver's "Make Donald Drumpf Again" Chrome plugin (and don't ever plan to remove it) and it automatically changed the name when I copied and pasted this comment after an edit. Fixed.


Q:

In your experience, is there ever a time/situation (other than being injured) where you would recommend someone NOT play derby?

A:

[removed]


Q:

Yes! Is this Trish, the Trish?

A:

Well said! The policy disconnect that I was talking about above is inevitable when a country continues to tell itself the story of how it is a welcoming place and how immigrants have made it great while simultaneously embracing and enacting policies which if in effect at the time that my great-grandparents and others came here would have resulted in a very different country.


Q:

At the beginning of scrimmages, I tend to cough and pee myself. I have no clue why. No clue why it happens every time- it's not a nerves thing. It's getting old though.

A:

Will the waiting time for sponsorship of family members ever speed up? I would like to be able to sponsor a family member for a green card but I believe the current wait time is something ridiculous like 15 years. Family member is Irish.


Q:

Do Pilates. That problem goes away. Pilates will make you a better skater, so it's two benefits in one.

A:

Guessing this is a sibling? Waiting times for Mexico and the Philippines are abysmal in this category... possibly over 100 years, by one calculation. Most of the recent immigration reform packages have proposed to eliminate the sibling visa and replace it with a faster merit-based visa in which ties to US citizens give the intending immigrants a substantial number of "points." (English skills, education, savings, etc are also possible factors, so your Irish (and any other white European) relatives would be in good shape if this were to happen.)


Q:

I made that noise during team practice last night because our littlest jammer basically tried to insert her knee into my butthole at top speed. It didn't hurt so much as was extremely surprising, although I did definitely feel it later. I don't think I would have even gotten a back block on her though if we'd had refs because I hardly moved, just absorbed the full hit - straight into my butt.

A:

Good to know. What is the chance of such reform passing? I don't see anything happening in the next 4 years with current administration.


Q:

I started derby in 2003, back then you'd practice "planned plays" as much as you practiced other aspects of the sport. You'd go to a practice and one of the things you'd drill is jumping over a hurdle-like device, and you'd do that for about 30 minutes. One of my most favorite planned plays was to get in a fake fight on the rail, flip on to the announcers booth, which made an extremely loud noise, then jump back on to the track and finish the jam. This type of stuff is part of our sport's important history. It freaks a lot of people out, especially hose that do not know much about the origin of derby, but it was super hard to pull off and was simply, straight-forward fun. I'm super happy that WFTDA rules are different from the early day bank track rules, but I wouldn't take any of that back at all.

A:

I know I'm not the only one reading this hoping that this administration won't last four more months, but honestly I'd rather wait four more years than see "reform" (such as it would be) pass under Trump. Whatever Congress ultimately passes will be at least in part a disaster (if not an actual disaster full of unforeseen consequences, IIRIRA-style), but we can count on anything Trump signs to have a healthy side of evil along with the inevitable incompetence, messy compromises, and poor drafting.


Q:

I support this, but it will make it hard for me as a blocker who is 6'. I'm 6'2 on skates...I'm a high block champ.

A:

Would it be possible for a permanent resident to gain citizen status from a grandmother due to issues with a parents citizenship?


Q:

Thus the Reddit name? I get high blocked from people who are under 5 foot, so everyone does 'em. There was one practice where I blocked both Fifi and OJ in the nose so hard, it was awful. I have a permanent mark on my nose from where I've been hit in the face. It's no good.

A:

I'm sorry, I'm not really sure that I understand the question. It is possible under some circumstances if the non-citizen were included as a derivative in a grandparent's petition for the parent, but this sounds like an extremely technical and specific question that you should take to a qualified immigration attorney for a private consultation.


Q:

Girl, you were amazing. There is nothing to be mortified about; just frustration over team penalties. I remember how tight the game was and the loss of momentum from that jam. I know the feeling of realizing you're the only blocker out there and it's not a fun one.

I've been a hardcore Texas fan since I started getting into derby. Every year you guys get stronger, and last year was the best yet. I know the team had what it takes to beat London (and Rose and Gotham and VRDL), and I was probably almost as disappointed as you guys may have been in the outcome. I can't wait to see the team at the Big O this year - I remember how you kept it so close against VRDL this time last year. I'm SO HYPED for T2K3!

A:

What should I look for and what questions should I ask to find a good immigration lawyer?


Q:

THANK YOU!

A:

Great question!

I'd start by asking around to other non-citizens if they have had (or know of someone who has had) a particularly good (or bad) experience with a local immigration attorney. This is such a personal service that nearly all of our new clients are from word of mouth.

Be sure that the law office/attorney that you are considering either exclusively practices immigration law or has it listed as one of only a select few practice areas. Be wary of someone who lists it way down the list after personal injury, bankruptcy, family law, criminal law, etc. as this is a highly specialized field which requires an intense focus.


Q:

Any chance you'll rejoin the Holy Rollers and experience that banked track magic again? My wife would (figuratively) die to skate alongside you and mess up some Putas, Cherry Bombs, Cowgirls and Hellcats. Also, I promise I'd have an all-time great Smarty Pants boutfit ready to roll. I'm pretty sure they'd get you on the roster with a quickness.

A:

As a DACA recipient wanting to leave the country, what is your advice when filling out the paperwork and leaving? I have no real reason to exit the US except to visit my family. Also, how does the future look for dreamers in your opinion?


Q:

That'd be so great. I loved playing for the MFHR and I'm super proud to be a Moldy Roller. I played in Jantastic this past January, and I have to admit, I believe I might have played my final bank track game. I got beat up in that tournament and I'm not certain that my body can sustain any more bank track. The last game I played with TXRD was a few years ago and it was SOOOOOOOOO MUCH FUNNNNNNNNN! I especially loved playing with my derby wife Cheap Skate and my bandmate Peachy Mean!

A:

NOT LEGAL ADVICE! It is certainly possible to have advance parole approved to visit family (although you might want to have a lawyer look it over), but AP is a much bigger risk now than it was before the inauguration. I am strongly cautioning clients against it, as are many other immigration attorneys. I have certainly heard of many accounts of DACA recipients and others still able to re-enter with it without too many issues (e.g. http://www.immihelp.com/experience/view-1-4-advance_parole.html) but you should know the risks.

And this is just one lawyer's opinion, but I believe that if Trump were going to revoke DACA he would have done it by now. My best guess is that he's waiting for Congress to pass BRIDGE or something similar to provide yet another temporary fix for DREAMers so that he can revoke it and brag to his base that he has canceled yet another unlawful Obama program.


Q:

How does one correctly decipher bout footage?

I know you get paid to do so, so you can't give us all the secrets, but any hints and tips??

A:

What's the best way for a Canadian to immigrate to the States? Is employee sponsorship the only path?


Q:

I'm currently rehabbing my shoulder and ankle still and I've decided that I need to call it something else besides rehab. What I mean by this, you might identify with- rehab sounds optional, almost like warm-up and cool-down sound like the optional stuff that you can do before or after the important part of the work out which is the workout.

If warm-up was called Phase 1 of the Workout, then you had Phase 2, which is the workout and then Phase 3 is cool down, skaters and athletes might be more inclined to do the super important warm-up and cool-down properly because they are considered part of the work out.

So, what I've decided to do is call my rehabbing Phase 1 of lifting, so that I do my rehab exercises and then I go into Phase 2 which is the bulk of the workout for the day. My hope is that I make the rehab more of a priority.

A:

You are the first Canadian in a long while I've heard inquire about this... most of the migration seems to be going the other way these days. :/

The TN visa is the best short-term option if you qualify, although it would go along with the rest of NAFTA if Trump were to make good on that campaign promise. Otherwise, Canadians are treated the same as anyone else in the immigration system. Best to consult with a qualified immigration attorney about your particular situation, though.


Q:

How does one correctly decipher bout footage?

I know you get paid to do so, so you can't give us all the secrets, but any hints and tips??

A:

You and I can swap places!


Q:

I don't think I really thought about it. I've only been to the doctor for a few injuries, so it's basically been rest when something feels bad, go back in when I feel healthy. I focus a lot on strength training and I've always cross trained. For my shoulder injuries, I was told that they would have been much worse if it hadn't been for all the rowing that I did. When my back was at its worst I started Pilates, and then that helped me rehab and stay so much stronger, which has also helped to keep me in the game.

Perhaps it's a perspective thing: maybe our bodies feel the same, but I just take it as additional information, rather than an indicator to stop? We should check in with each other in a decade and see if we're both still walking! :)

A:

Seriously--I've actually always thought this should totally be a thing, as either a temporary non-immigrant visa for a given period of time or an immigrant visa. It's almost certainly undoable (although much more so now with the Internet), but I love the idea of a sort of pair exchange program in which each side of the pair is responsible for the other one not overstaying the visa or taking public benefits while on it in the other's country. It would have to be by international agreement, like the visa waiver program, but it would have enormous potential to promote international understanding and cooperation. (Also, poutine.)


Q:

If you liked skiing, definitely try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing if you get the chance! Tried both this past winter - they were fun and gave a great workout.

A:

You should definitely expense lunch. That is a no-brainer. You have a legal mind and a legal staff. If you can't remember to do it, delegate.

If your clients can't pay, consider having them contribute work. They can bring food, clean your workers' offices and home, garden, provide massage services to your staff, etc. or, if not arms-length enough, have them donate their labor to a local charity.

That said, if you haven't done it, consider working for a charity that can pay you.

Lastly, I've updated my notes on my stance against further immigration, and will update more later.
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/62qvgp/i_am_a_practicing_attorney_in_boston_an_expert_on/dfooifd/


Q:

I've done both, they are awesome! We don't have a lot of snow in Texas, where I'm based. When I'm in Vancouver with my partner we play in the snow a lot. Luludemon of Pivotstar and I once went cross country skiing, but it was negative 17, so we turned back. We were sooooooo coooooooold.

A:

I just don't.... care? I guess? I know I should, but I don't. And yes, we've traded cleaning/painting/handyperson/food services for legal services in the past. It feels good to barter, as long as both parties come out feeling like they got comparable value from the exchange.

Given the total lack of state or federal grant money for this kind of thing mentioned elsewhere in this AMA, there are only a small handful of non-profits in my area (or anywhere) which can afford to have practicing immigration attorneys on staff. There are maybe 5-6 of these jobs total available in all of New England. I was actually just yet again discussing with a friend last night how we could formally convert this office to a non-profit, which is probably the more logical direction.


Q:

Hi Smarty, My wife is one of your biggest fans but is stuck at work with no reddit access.... She would like to know if you need a personal assistant? because she could shadow you for a year or two so she could "learn all the derby things !!! "

A:

What is the process of gaining permanent residency through marriage, and to what depth is it investigated? I'm from a well off country, where I had a professional job and family and a good amount of savings, but I'm still scared of the process.

My girlfriend's family doesn't know about us at all, let alone getting married because they're like religious nuts and I'm atheist, so I'm worried if they ask her family they'll say it's bull, and I'll be called a fraud.


Q:

I need about 10 personal assistants, so the answer is yes. But what I need help with is not at all exciting, it involves sitting behind a computer and making all the fun stuff possible!

A:

The process is different depending on whether you are adjusting status from another lawful immigration status while in the U.S. or immigrating through consular processing while living in your country. Either way, you need to provide some proof of the relationship beyond the marriage certificate (bills, leases, sworn statements from friends and family, photos, correspondence, etc.) and you need to be prepared for an interview.

And I'm sorry for your situation. I've worked with quite a few people whose parents weren't happy (or even didn't know) about the marriage and I know it adds another level of stress to everything. If it helps, immigration authorities wouldn't contact her family unless there was some reason to believe that there was an obvious, serious fraud going on... and if they're already investigating you that much (which I'm sure they wouldn't given how sincere and concerned this question reads to me) you're probably in trouble anyway. I may be somewhat biased because everyone I'm working with is legitimate (we don't get anywhere near marriage fraud) and is using an attorney to be sure it's done right, but it seems to me that if you provide everything they need up front and are open and honest at the interview that they will take things at face value. It's usually pretty easy to tell when people are only getting married for immigration benefits.

That said, I would strongly advise that you seek out a qualified immigration attorney in your area based on what you've said here. If nothing else, you'll feel much better just having someone else handle the whole process for you.


Q:

Hi Smarty Pants!

Do you have any advice for other skaters who both block and jam regularly, either in terms of how to train to be versatile, or in how to switch your mindset between different roles?

A:

That's really great, thank you for your advice :)


Q:

Yeah, do both. Try not to over think it. Know that you're spending 50% of your time doing each role, so don't be frustrated if you don't progress as quick as your friends who only practice one. Make sure you Pivot, and get super good at it.

A:

Good luck! I think you'll be just fine.


Q:

The braced wall (by the way, thanks for that) changed the way defense is played in derby. What will be the next groundbreaking change to the game?

And on a non-derby subject: If derby didn't exist and skill/experience/time/location weren't limiting factors, what would you most want to do as an occupation?

A:

I brought my now wife into the US on a K1 Fiance visa from Canada without a lawyer, it was quite straightforward and easy, even 10 years ago, given online .gov websites, user forums etc. My family was never even involved or questioned.

I'm not saying there won't be reasons for YOU to need a lawyer, but we didn't, and most that we spoke to seemed to want a lot of money for a boilerplate process.


Q:

I think we'll go back to using a lot of strategies that were used in 2007-2011, but they will be played at a higher level. If I had the time, I'd watch all the Champs games starting from the first one and see how the strategy was changing, I'd then use that information to help fix some strategic issues I've been thinking about, and to forecast what is coming up next. If anyone has the time to do this, please send me the highlights.

I started off in this world as a musician. I'm a songwriter, singer and I play the guitar. I have a telecaster that is one of my most prized items. I'd go back to playing music again, it's been on the back burner due to the derbs.

I'm very interested in how people learn, and specifically how we treat humans who are considered to have learning deficiencies or disabilities. I'd like to continue to work in education and with coaches to further our knowledge and ability to help people have equal access to learning. Both in the classroom and especially in sports.

A:

No doubt. The K1 is one of the easier processes, as it is a non-immigrant visa. I've met plenty of couples over the years who have done their own marriage cases (with immigrant visas) as well. I'm not going to say that every non-citizen should need a lawyer to immigrate, no more than everyone needs an accountant to do their taxes. (But of course we're here for the same reason: it can be annoying and awful to do yourself, and with real consequences if you get it wrong.) I should also add that consular processing is very different from adjustment with USCIS, which (I think?) Is the question here.


Q:

Question from a leaguemate: Hey Smarty Pants!

You immediately became my favorite coach at North East Derby Convention last year. I've never seen someone give us that many visual cues and since then, I've become a lot more aware and reactive thanks to your workshops.

Do you had any tips for people who get anxious easily? I feel like I'm the weakest in my team, and more of a liability than someone who can truly contribute or help the team.

It's like I have a mental block, or rather a wall, before I jam or block. I feel like the team is disappointed in me when I mess up, and it becomes a vicious circle of mental failure that I can't seem to reset.

A:

Do you think with this new administration, will the timetable for applying to be a citizen of you're a green card holder will be longer or shorter?


Q:

I answered a similar question earlier. Every person brings something different to a team. You are important and you bring something to your team and your league. I bet you didn't join derby to feel anxious and unhappy. Why did you join derby? Why are you putting yourself on someone else's timeline or agenda? If you stop focusing on others and instead you focus on yourself you might have a better experience. Remember, it's impossible to have more than one thought at a time, so if you're on the track thinking about how you're the weakest link, you can't possibly be thinking about the game. Be present, be in the moment and when you start to have those limiting and toxic thoughts, you might need to literally tell yourself to "shut up". It's not a nice thing to say to anyone, but the thoughts that you're having about yourself are really not nice at all either and they need to stop.

I understand where you're coming from. I hope you're able to tackle these issues. Roller derby is for everyone, even the least skilled player on the team. Also, there really is no such thing as the least skilled player on a team, everyone brings something.

A:

I don't think it will change unless Trump takes steps to defund or scale back USCIS. This is certainly possible given that (no matter what he says) it is clear that he is also intending to limit legal means of immigration. But for the moment USCIS seems to be running as usual.


Q:

Did you ever have to correct bad form when learning how to skate? If so- how? Anything off skates? I'm consistently duck kneed and skate on my outside edges- but for the life of me, no matter if I think i'm on my inside edges... I'm not. :( :( :(

A:

How long, on average, would you say that a family would have to wait to immigrate to the US from Mexico? Let's say they're average working class people, neither poor nor wealthy.

Thanks for doing this, the answers are fascinating!


Q:

Hey- I don't know what duck needed looks like, but if you want you can tag me in a short video of yourself skating and I'll take a look at your skating style. I've learned a lot recently about how we should stand on our feet and how that translates into the muscles that you use, or should use. I taught myself how to skate as a kid, so I got to bypass learning as an adult, which has its pros and cons.

When someone tells me that I'm making mistakes on my skates I take it very seriously. Not many people critique me, but it's usually members of the Texies. Once I get over myself, and try to really look at what they are recommending, I usually take the correction head-on. Sometimes the correct form does not show up for a few months or a few years. So, it can take time.

A:

An average family with no prior connections to the US would likely have no opportunity to immigrate from Mexico whatsoever. Was there a particular basis for immigration that you had in mind?


Q:

Hi, Smarty Pants! Thanks doing this!

My sister did derby up until she was 12 (now 14). She was small, but she played with a lot of girls 5 years older, a foot taller, and ~70 pounds heavier than her, and she still made great contributions to the pack, even though her size made her a better jammer. She had to stop because our place was moved to somewhere much less convenient for us.

Now in high school, she hasn't grown much bigger, and she has two years of rust. If she were to try to get back into derby, how difficult would the path be to get back into it? What would she need to relearn and/or practice? Also is there something in Los Angeles that I can't just look up that you could hint us on?

Thanks again!!!

A:

No basis in particular, I'm just looking to get a better understanding of how long the process of immigration takes / who qualifies and doesn't so that I can talk to people (republicans) from a stronger position.

An unrelated question, any books you'd recommend?


Q:

Hey! Tell your sister to play derby again. There are so many skaters of all sizes. One of my favorites is Shortstop of Gotham, she is not massive but she is one of the best jammers in the sport. One of Texas' best blockers was Shortcut, she was also just about 5 feet, but was one of our most skilled blockers. Pollygone, another super talented and not massive player. So tell your sister to start up again. Also, there is so much derby in the LA area. Go to derbylisting.com and find derby leagues both adult and juniors all around.

Thanks for asking!

A:

Virtually no one qualifies to immigrate to the U.S. unless they have an immediate relative (not including a sibling--that's going to take a very long time, as discussed above) or have an opportunity for a high-skilled job. There's no such thing as just sort of generally immigrating or "getting in line."

As a starting point, I'd recommend "Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal" by Avi Chomsky and "Guarding the Golden Door" by Roger Daniels.


Q:

Hellarad fan or nah?

A:

So we've basically thrown the "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." out the door, cool.

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it!


Q:

Long live Hellarad. I remember reading over the final issue at Rollercon, and learning all the reasons Hellarad was hanging up their skates. One of my favorite signs ever held during a game was in the hands of a Bay Area fan, it read, "I hope you both lose". You've got to laugh at things, it's easier than letting them make you mad.

A:

JFK suggested that we should add to that "as long as they come from Northern Europe, are not too tired or too poor or slightly ill, never stole a loaf of bread, never joined any questionable organization, and can document their activities for the past two years." That was in 1961. It's much, much worse now. Thanks for reading!


Q:

Hi Smarty! I've been fortunate enough to skate derby in the same city as you for my entire 6+ years of skating, but there are still so many more things to learn!

  1. What steps did you take to move from the role of a "trainer" into the role of a "coach?"
  2. With so many years of teaching under your belt, do you have a way that you organize drills in case you're looking for something specific?
  3. What were your derby goals when you decided to move from banked track to flat track?
A:

I am well aware that they were both admitted as children and radicalized in this country.

The Tsarnaevs traveled to Dagestan for training

Dude, do you work for CNN? This Tsarnaev case seems to be the perfect example to support the kind of travel ban Trump proposed. Yet you claim local "close enough to hear the bomb" cred and then try to use it to further your dismissal of the OPs seemingly genuine question.

I'm glad my immigration status isn't depending on your skills in dealing with hostile parties, your credibility seems to be evaporating quickly here.

My wife immigrated from another country and I am familiar with the background checks conducted on her, as well as how easy it would have been for her to buy clean local criminal records. Another quite drunk friend shared how he purged very sketchy war-crimeish military records. I'm not at all convinced the US can effectively "screen" immigrants, especially from war ravaged primitive countries like Syria. I have friends from there too.


Q:

Hey Hannthrax!

I moved into the role of coach the moment that the concepts I was telling skaters were my own, rather than someone else's. I think that a trainer can lead a practice, but they are not teaching. A coach also leads practices, but they are teaching and developing while they do it. I do have drills organized, but so many of them are in my head and it's very common for me to create a drill on the fly when working with teams. My concept of a drill is when you take a scenario, decide if you like or dislike what is happening in the scenarios and then you practice the outcome or what should have been the outcome. My last season of banked was 2010, I was going to retire. I really wanted to try flat track before retiring, but I was not sure if I'd be able to. I asked my friend Curvette if I could skate with her team, the Texies, and they decided to let me know, so I started playing flat in 2011. I loved bank track, but you can think of it as going to school. You start in middle school, you go to high school, then college, then.... I played banked for 7.5 awesome years! I was ready for a different version of the sport, so I tried flat. I compared derby to being on a train earlier, sometimes you've got to know when it's your stop, your time to get off.

A:

You are a hostile party. I was hoping this could be more of a conversation than an argument.

And I am sincerely baffled by your take on the Marathon bombings. You're going to have to explain what that link has to do with the travel ban, or your point, or anything. You don't seem to know anything about the perpetrators or their immigration history.

"Buy" clean criminal records? Did you immigrate before 1965? This is a serious question.


Q:

Hey Smarty, I loved your classes when you come to colombia. I have a little question, what do think are the best roller skates?

A:

Hi Matt,

Can someone who is the spouse of H-1B (H-4 visa) who is not allowed to work in the US, form an LLC as a "passive" member? Whats the proper language that should be in the LLC agreement to clarify that the person's role is passive?

Is it necessary to mention why the person has equal interest [33%] (e.g. contributed contacts)? Is it Ok if every member has no salary and all profits are distributed equally among members?

Anything to keep in mind to avoid problems with future green card application for the H-1B holder (spouse)?

Thanks in advance!


Q:

I miss Colombia! I love Antiks!

A:

You are seeking incredibly specific legal advice, and I'm guessing from context here that you can afford to speak with a qualified immigration attorney to get the answers you're looking for. Good luck!


Q:

Sgt.Sugarbush here, ex mascot for the Gnarlies Angels in Rossland. My question is how are you today?

A:

This may or may not be within your grasp of law. I want to give my friend Omar 2% in my company but he is from Pakistan. How do I do this?


Q:

I'm very good Sgt Sugarbush! Just trying to wrap it up so I can hang with a former Gnarlies Angels skater. :)

A:

You're right, I don't really feel qualified to answer this. Good luck to you both.


Q:

Hi Smarty Pants! Alaska skater here, and a huge fan. I'm going to move away from derby questions for the moment:

If you were to name one piece of clothing that describes you, what would you say?

What was the best thing that happened to you this past week?

If you could be an animal for one day, what would you be and why?

A:

In terms of immigration, don't customs officers really have the absolute final say regardless of how thorough the paperwork you do is on the backend?

Like as thorough as you are, all it takes is that one customs officer to deny it for whatever reason they want?

EDIT: talking as someone who was denied a work visa

EDIT 2: spelling


Q:

hoodie I went on an amazing trail run in the mountains in the snow, with a beautiful dog and a very strong woman I'd love to be a blue whale.

What about you? What's your favorite t-shirt? Do you think flossing every day is important? Do you eat/ drink gluten?

A:

Not exactly. They can't turn you away because they don't like your Nickelback T-shirt or whatever (although, maybe flag this for future immigration reform?) but if something comes up at the time of admission that indicates that the visa was fraudulently obtained or that you intend to do something in the U.S. on it that you're not supposed to do (usually working) they can cancel it and turn you around. (E.g., you provided documentation to the consular officer in support of your tourist visa that you'd be staying with your aunt, CBP calls the "aunt" and the person who picks up doesn't know who you are. Or you're entering on a valid student visa and explain to the officer that you have a really good job waiting for you when asked what you plan to do during your stay in the U.S.)


Q:

What are your favorite travelling traditions? What are your must-haveS?

A:

So for someone like myself - who works for an American company at a Canadian branch - who was getting a promotion in a US branch, which involved a work visa - the customs agent basically didn't think I had enough education to back up my promotion. So I was turned away (I wasn't denied - he said he would say it was "deficient")


Q:

I travel with a stovetop espresso maker. I try to run in every city I go to. I try to only travel with a red messenger bag that I got in NYC in June 2004. No matter where I go or for how long I travel, I try to fit everything in the bag. I love to travel by the way, and it's one of my favorite parts of the job.

A:

Interesting... was this on a TN?


Q:

What advice would you give a skater who has mostly blocked for years being asked to be a spot jammer.... How do you switch from blocker brain to jammer brain mid game?

A:

I believe so? It was a year ago so I'm a little hazy?


Q:

Don't over think it. Just do it. If you're being asked, it means you're good at it.

A:

Yeah, that would be my guess from what you described. TNs are fairly informal and controlled much more by CBP gut checks than other visas.


Q:

Hey Smarty! Not sure if this has already been asked but what is your opinion on the slow pack game that has emerged since skating backwards was allowed?

A:

For all I know (and for all you know) every single one of them is perfectly legal. It's not my job or concern to check their immigration status, any more than it is to check yours. They are my neighbors and entire families should not be living in a single room. I'd like to assist them if I can. Please post the rest of whatever you have to say in T_D as I'm sure this gentleman doesn't value you in his AMA.


Q:

I love all derby. I love when the game is slow, when it's fast. I love how the rules and strategy drives how a game is going to be played. Bring it ALL on, I want to play it!

A:

All children deserve a safe and stable place to live. But there is no excuse for this kind of poverty in one of the world's most prosperous nations. Blaming immigration--especially immigration driven by our disastrous economic and foreign policy, and encouraged by employers relying upon an exploited underclass--for these problems doesn't seem like the best place to start for me.


Q:

Hey Smarty. It's Kier from Jersey. I recently aged up to adults and I feel like the majority of my team, though knowing me forever, does not think that I know my shit. They never want my input when we are in discussion and they ignore me, but then someone will bring up exactly what I said and they will talk about how smart that was. Do you have any tips?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

Hey Kier! Yeah, here are some tips: don't be surprised by what's happening, it happens a lot. It's intimidating to play with someone that is not only smart but also young, so it might just be something that you have to deal with right now, but in time it might be resolved as you've been on the team longer. RD can sometimes have an unfortunate hierarchy that is hard to crack, so instead of trying to tackle it, just focus on playing and dob't be surprised when that happens. I'm sorry that it is happening, it can be the worst, I've experienced that too.

A:

That depends entirely on the charges, as well as the timing and nature of the dispositions. I couldn't possibly advise you until I had complete arrest and conviction records in front of me. Proceed with extreme caution and do not file your naturalization petition until you have consulted with a qualified immigration attorney in your area.


Q:

Why is it so difficult to get a visa to the US even for just tour? Even when you have all the docs. The only reason to deny you would be travel experience. Where do they expect you to start your travel experience from ? You have got to start from somewhere right? If every embassy says travel experience then I guess no one can travel?

A:

I'm not sure what you mean by "travel experience," but most tourist visas are denied because the consular officer does not believe that you can show sufficient ties (usually financial, often personal) to your home country. They need to be convinced that you are not going to stay in the U.S. once you arrive.


Q:

Thanks for the reply. Travel experience means you have never been out of the country.

A:

I thought that's what you meant... but that's not really a factor for a tourist visa. They're mostly looking for a bank account, not a resume.


Q:

My mom just applied for citizenship after being a green card holder for almost 30 years. How long is the process? Is it longer under Trump?

She just did her fingerprints a few weeks ago.

A:

Depends on the backlog in your local field office. (It's about 5-7 months from filing here in Boston.) No changes under Trump so far.


Q:

How does the process to get a Green card works? I need to already live in the US or I can apply While still living in my home country?

A:

Totally depends on your circumstances. Some people qualify to apply for residence while they are here, some immigrate through their consulates.


Q:

I'm going to assume you don't support Don the Con, but would you say he's been good for your business?

A:

Good for business. Very, very bad for my physical and mental health. I'd happily give up the business for a better future for my clients and our country.


Q:

The grounds for allowing immigration and tolerating illegal immigration is because they are fleeing war torn places, drug cartels, seeking a better life for their family and all that. It's for the betterment of the individuals and families that come. If it is equally or more important for the money they send home and those economies, then is it actually immigration or exploitation? I'm not trying to be an a$$ about this, but I'm looking fr clear cut legal reasons why we shouldn't follow the guidance from the administration. Is it only political points of view and compassion for other humans or is there actual legal ground to stand on when defending undocumented workers that is not based upon an appeal to emotion?

A:

I'm doing my best to give you a legal answer here. The "guidance" from the administration is a set of executive federal enforcement priorities. While I can and do disagree with them, they are written fully within within the executive's authority. But they are not law. They are just how the President intends existing law to be enforced.

Several times in this thread, I think you've conflated law enforcement with law itself. In our federalist system, ICE enforces federal law and state and local authorities enforce state and local law. Obama created a system in which ICE could work entirely apart from state and local authorities to identify non-citizens who posed an immediate threat to public safety and deport them, whether or not they lived in a sanctuary city. I don't understand why Drumpf wouldn't build on that instead of wasting time arguing about whether or not state authorities should be forced (or shamed) to spend money they don't have doing things that aren't within their job description.

Finally, I don't see anything in this conversation having to do with whether or not we should enforce federal law or the desirability or efficacy of that law. That's an entirely separate conversation. Your concern seems to be with how involved state authorities (who have neither the resources nor the training nor the will to be immigration agents) should be in enforcing federal law. I hope I've been fairly clear here that there is no obligation whatsoever for them to have any role in it at all. That's not just my opinion, that's the law.


Q:

The grounds for allowing immigration and tolerating illegal immigration is because they are fleeing war torn places, drug cartels, seeking a better life for their family and all that. It's for the betterment of the individuals and families that come. If it is equally or more important for the money they send home and those economies, then is it actually immigration or exploitation? I'm not trying to be an a$$ about this, but I'm looking fr clear cut legal reasons why we shouldn't follow the guidance from the administration. Is it only political points of view and compassion for other humans or is there actual legal ground to stand on when defending undocumented workers that is not based upon an appeal to emotion?

A:

Again, if police chiefs were ordering their officers to actively interfere with ICE arrests (or shoot ICE agents on sight or whatever), that would be an obvious problem in the direction of the "rebellion" you mentioned above. But I think there's a lot of misunderstanding around what "sanctuary cities" actually are and what the implementing laws and regulations look like. Happy to clarify if I've been unclear on something here.


Q:

Are you bilingual?

Do you need to be bilingual to practice immigration law?

A:

I can understand and read Spanish, but prefer to speak back to clients through an interpreter as I don't think I sound particularly lawyerly in anything other than my native language.

And you're much better off as a practitioner if you can at least gain a basic fluency in the language that the majority of your clients speak. While most of my clients do speak some English, the things that we are discussing are far too technical and complex for me to expect them to understand them in anything other than their native language. Unless you know for sure that you would be working with a certain population that is typically fluent in English, I would advise anyone who might want to consider a career in immigration law to put the effort into learning Spanish.

All of that said, my office is run by superbly talented, fully bilingual staff who do most of my day-to-day communication on our behalf. They are the best ambassadors to our clients that we could possibly have, and I'm so proud to have them working with us.


Q:

I have had plenty of Spanish classes, but I have come to understand that I am simply not going to be fluent in conversation unless I immerse myself.

Thanks for the response.

A:

For sure. Big difference between an American Spanish class and the everyday Spanish (with many national/regional dialects and vocabularies) that your clients will be using. Getting out and talking to regular people as often as possible is the only way to truly learn any language. Happy to answer any other questions you have about what I do if you do think it's something you're interested in pursuing.