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.
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
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?
What would be the best way for attorney's who don't have a background in this area to help out?
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.
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.
In your experience, is there ever a time/situation (other than being injured) where you would recommend someone NOT play derby?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Would it be possible for a permanent resident to gain citizen status from a grandmother due to issues with a parents citizenship?
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.
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.
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!
What should I look for and what questions should I ask to find a good immigration lawyer?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- What steps did you take to move from the role of a "trainer" into the role of a "coach?"
- 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?
- What were your derby goals when you decided to move from banked track to flat track?
I am well aware that they were both admitted as children and radicalized in this country.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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?
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.)
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?
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.
Are you bilingual?
Do you need to be bilingual to practice immigration law?
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.