We have a lot of clients who were fleeing terrible wars in Central America, like Oscar when he left Nicaragua, so we’ve got lots of clients that are in their fifties who have been here for twenty, thirty years. Then we have younger people coming from Central America because of gangs. The gangs kidnap and rape young people and forcibly recruit young people to be in their gangs. We are getting lots of kids who are coming who have seen horrible things happen or have had death threats or have lost brothers and sisters to the gang wars. We get a lot of women, coming with children, who have been raped or who have been severely abused by their spouses, or their spouses may have been murdered. They are coming and they are telling us their stories.

Ann working with clients

I think for the ones we can help it’s beautiful. I don’t feel their trauma as much because I can fix this and that feels really good. Many of them don’t qualify for programs and you’re listening to these horrible stories and you know there is nothing you can do. I think the worst part for me is that helplessness.

I’m lucky that I have never suffered any of this trauma so it doesn’t bring up bad memories for me. Seth has also been a big help because I feel like he brings me down to earth. As bad as things gets in the world, you just have to deal with it. With Seth we’ve had some bad experiences and it just keeps you on the earth. No matter how good things, are bad things can happen and then you can keep going.

There’s a lot of stress all around but it’s also wonderful. In a way I almost feel like it’s a cheating job because if you were any other type of attorney people work with you, they’re happy to work with you, but they aren’t super grateful. Immigrants are just always so grateful. Luckily we win their cases, and they’re just always happy and they give us hugs and we feel like we’ve done a good job. Other people do a good job too but they don’t get nearly as much gratitude as we do. I like that part of this job.

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