Immigrants are ‘Backbone of Our Communities,’ Says U.S. Lawyer, ‘We Need Them’

Heather Moretzsohn’s life has always been about immigration. Her father was an immigration lawyer, and all of his children married people from other countries. Moretzsohn’s own husband is a biology professor from Brazil. She now lives in Corpus Christi, and as an immigration lawyer herself she understands that our communities depend on immigration. She believes the United States needs swift reform.

People need to understand that this isn’t a simple issue, and it’s not black and white.

Moretzsohn, a partner at the firm Rodriguez & Moretzsohn, says that about 15 percent of her business involves helping immigrants obtain professional visas, 15 percent involves helping people fight deportation, and 60 percent involves helping families stay together, either by preventing deportation or by bringing loved ones into the country.

“In 1996, the borders were much more relaxed,” says Moretszohn, who began practicing immigration law in the ‘90s. “People would drive across the border in their car without any issue, decide to stay, and have petitions filed by siblings. But now, because of an incredibly outdated system, that paperwork can take more than 20 years before a family member can get their lawful permanent residence. Meanwhile, these immigrants have become the backbone of our communities. They’re the cooks in the restaurants, the people that build our houses. We need them.”

Because of her line of work, Moretzsohn has a unique understanding of the many complexities that come with immigration. “People need to understand that this isn’t a simple issue, and it’s not black and white,” she says. “We need everyone to be more empathetic and interested in understanding the situation.” She’d like to see immigration reform that, in the near future, allows undocumented workers to have legal status. “Let them legally contribute and pay taxes, and let us acknowledge that we depend on them,” she says.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…