Breaking The Immigration Stigma With Cynthia Grande
Cynthia Grande grew up in San Pedro, California, in a heavily Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Her parents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador and pushed her to be the most educated woman she could be.
She witnessed first-hand the number of friends and neighbors that did not have the legal help they needed due to language barriers, lack of resources, education, or just plain fear. The struggles these people went through and their need for help are what inspired Cynthia to become the attorney she is today.
Cynthia earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California, and later, her Juris Doctor at the University of the Pacific-McGeorge School of Law. After school, she returned to her hometown in the South Bay area of Los Angeles to serve and represent those in need. Many people are afraid to contact a lawyer because they are afraid of the process and don’t have much faith in the end result.
Cynthia’s goal is to shift the conversation about working with lawyers, so clients know not only what to expect, but can have confidence in the process. She wants to set the example for law firms to provide the top level care and commitment. She wants to be the guiding influence to help her customers navigate the legal situations they face with comfort and conviction, in hopes that they can again have peace of mind.
Tell us about your journey to become an immigration attorney?
CG: My parents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador and being the daughter of immigrants impacted the way that I wanted to make a difference in my community. Growing up, I saw how challenging it was for them and other families to get legal representation. It was hard to find lawyers that could understand their experiences, speak the same language as them, and ultimately give them the legal representation that they deserved. This motivated me to pursue my law degree and ultimately become a licensed attorney with my own law firm that specifically serves immigrant families.
What do you like and dislike about your work?
CG: I love the impact we’re able to make in the lives of our clients. Many times people will contact our firm and it’s their first time speaking with an attorney. These are people who have been living in the United States for years, but have been scared to ask for legal advice. I enjoy being able to educate them on what their legal options are, help put their fears at ease, and ultimately help them navigate the legal system so that they can live the American dream. What I dislike about my work is the inability to help all the families we want to help.
What is the hardest part about what you do?
CG: The hardest part about what I do is telling families that they don’t have any options to immigrate to the United States. These are families that have been in the United States for decades, have paid their taxes, and have contributed to society, but due to the current immigration laws – they have no pathway to legalize their status.
What drives and inspires you to practice immigration law?
CG: My parents and family are the ones who drive and inspire me to practice immigration law. I know how much my parents had to go through to provide a better future for our family and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had as a result. Whenever things get tough, I remember my parents’ hard work and resilience and remind myself to persevere and advocate for immigrant families.
Immigration is a popular and sensitive news topic these days. Can you tell us a little bit about the realities of practicing immigration law under the current administration?
CG: Immigration law is a complex and constantly changing area of law and I think is one of the areas of law that is most underestimated by people who don’t practice immigration law. Immigration forms are a part of the practice of immigration law and unfortunately people tend to think that it’s simple to legalize someone’s immigrant status in the United States. However, due to constant litigation, changing application of the law by different administrations, and inconsistent application of the law across the country; anyone who practices immigration law has to be willing to adapt constantly to be the best advocate for their clients. While there have been improvements under the current administration, immigration law continues to be a challenging and complex area to work in.
What advice do you have for those in need of an immigration attorney?
CG: Do your research. There are many people who hold themselves out to be immigration attorneys who are actually not attorneys or do not have experience in immigration law. It is important that whoever you hire is someone who is familiar with immigration laws and is up to date with changes in the law. You also want to make sure that you feel comfortable working with your immigration attorney and their office. Hiring an immigration attorney is an investment in your future and it’s important that you feel heard and valued as a client.
How hard is it to win immigration cases?
CG: It depends on the circumstances of each case. Some cases are more simple than others. I’ve had cases that have been approved in 3 months and others that have taken 9 years in court to get approved.
Can you give us an example of the hardest case you’ve had to solve?
CG: One of the most challenging cases involved a family from Mexico requesting asylum due to targeting by the cartels in Mexico. They came to me after hiring another attorney who stopped answering their phone calls after taking full payment for attorney fees. Families from Mexico who have been targeted by the cartels generally do not get approved by immigration for asylum due to the belief that this type of targeting does not rise to the level required for asylum. Preparing the family for the interview was incredibly heartbreaking due to the suffering they endured in Mexico. Fortunately, their case was granted and they are now living lawfully in the United States.
Check out Cynthia Grande’s official website: thegrandelawfirm.com/