Ed. note: Please welcome our newest columnist, Tahmina Watson of Watson Immigration Law, an immigration law boutique in Seattle with a focus on business immigration law. She’ll be writing about U.S. immigration law and related issues.
I am so thrilled to be one of the newest columnists with Above the Law.
I started practicing immigration law in 2006 in Seattle. It was a reluctant choice initially. Having gone through the immigration process of moving from the UK, where I was a barrister, to the United States, where I became a lawyer, immigration law was not my first choice. I envisioned only asylum cases; I didn’t really know it could be more. But as life would have it, immigration law — and all its complexities — kept following me around until I succumbed to it. And it was then that I realized it was my calling in life.
My experiences of living in different countries, being of South Asian heritage (Bangladeshi heritage, specifically), and going through the immigration process in the U.S., made me understand and relate to my clients instantly. And they to me. Suddenly, my immigrant background became an asset and my lived experiences a source of empathy.
When I started my own law firm in 2009 — albeit timidly at the encouragement of my husband, who happens to be a patent lawyer — I immediately found myself helping a lot of people affected by the recession. Skilled immigrants, who were being laid off, found themselves out of status and potentially facing removal. Many told me they had always wanted their own startup firms — but were hindered in one form or another mostly because a suitable startup visa didn’t exist. It was then that I became really interested in immigration policy and reform and developed the passion and empathy needed to be part of the necessary change.
And that is how I started my life of blogging and writing. It eventually led to my first book in 2015, The Startup Visa: Key to Job Growth and Economic Prosperity in America (affiliate link), launched that year at South by Southwest. Coincidentally, that book is even more relevant in 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic that has hobbled the U.S. economy. (More on that in the coming weeks!) Most recently, having survived the Trump reign and his attack on immigration, my second book, Legal Heroes in the Trump Era (affiliate link), is the story of my work and that of other inspiring lawyers during that time. If you ever grow disillusioned about why you got into law, this book will likely remind you about the ideological sense of law and order you wanted to be part of.
Since 2009, I have built a successful practice focused on business and family immigration and naturalization. I have maintained a blog, been an advocate and activist, and, since 2015, hosted a podcast about immigration. (I have had two beautiful daughters along the way). I love that I can make such an impact on the lives of my clients and my community in a meaningful way. I am a voice for my clients because so often they have none.
Being on the ground helping clients, seeing the economic trends as they unfold and keeping an eye on what’s happening in Congress, give me an insight that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Any immigration lawyer can tell you heartbreaking stories of the stress and hardship we and our clients have endured over the past four years. I lead the response committee of the Washington Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) during that time, and both my practice and activism have given me the privilege of learning many new lessons. I feel my voice is even more important now to bring those lessons to the forefront, to give a voice to my clients, elevate issues that I see as important, and help highlight policies and laws that need to be changed.
So, I hope through this column I can give you insights into the world of immigration law to explain how current law and policies affect my clients and the community, why and how they should…
Read More: Tahmina Talks Immigration