Parvandeh maa chi shod?
I love being a lawyer and helping
Iranians, no matter how annoying. But...
August 24, 2003
Working in a law office is hectic, daunting, exhausting, and downright
Working in a law office catering to an exclusively Iranian
the above look like an idyllic gondola ride on a sunny day in Venice,
by a Michelangelo's David look-alike singing O Sole Mio in
a voice that
would make Andrea Bocelli cry of envy.
The first group that comes to mind is the "Antibiotics". These
are people who, much like antibiotics, you have to take every hour
so. They'll call asking,
"Khob khaanom, parvandeye maa chi shod?" (Well, what's happened
to our case?)
No matter how many times you strain to explain to them that nothing
possibly change in the status of their case between 10 a.m. and
11 a.m., they just don't take you seriously and continue
with their hourly inquiries.
They thinnk their file is sitting somewhere
dust in an antiquated drawer, and only their perseverance will
the lazy no-good bum on the other end of the line (that would
be me!) to
meet her duty. Often, they don't realize this type of nuisance
the opposite feeling.
Then, there are the "Conspiracy Theorists". This
particular group believes we attorneys somehow have a private wink
wink, nudge nudge, deep throat type of secret informant
within the INS that we can
reach through a red telephone line to "speed along" or "approve"
applications. It's just impossible to make them believe we don't
INS officer on the payroll, no matter how hard we protest.
Often, they use
the antibiotic method described to plead with us again and again: "Peleeze
khaanoom... Can yu tell aay-enn-ess vee need deess verk
permeet very very fast?"
Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo... I don't
many times I have explained we have no discretion over processing time of
governmental agencies. They just look at us with their contrite
and a "You could help us if you really wanted to" expression.
Another group is the "Man az yeki az doostaam shenidam..." (I
heard a friend saying...) These are the people who have a bit more
initiative. Much like a suspicious patient
who seeks a second medical opinion,
these people can usually be found in local Iranian coffee shops,
auto dealerships and the like, complaining out loud about their
conundrum until finally they find a willing audience for their
Then they come back triumphantly with the news that "Man
az yeki az
doostaam shenidam ke pessare baraadare ammeye baghaale sare kuchashoon
apply kardeh bood baraaye green card, kheeeeeeyyyyyylllliiii kamtar
keshid... cheraa parvandeye man engahd toolaaniye khanoom?" (Just
imagine the translation)
patiently to explain that every case has different facts, and different
laws. But it's a lost cause. They just shake their head and look
at you with
that same incredulous puppy-dog look.
Some clients are so unique they're worth discussing
on their own.
Once a woman called in total panic asking us
to cancel the visa for her fiance from Iran because
she had just found out he had
given her a sexually-transmitted disease on her last visit there.
And there was the man who wanted to know if he reports his
wife to the INS as a
fraudulent immigration-only wife, would he could go
to jail, too?
One young man had been detained in an INS
jail for god
knows how many months. He asked whether he has a better
chance at getting US asylum if he becomes a homosexual?
So, after all this, why do I stay at my job?
Well, believe it or not, all being said, I love what I do.
It's that David and Goliath mentality in me. I know
it's naive, stupid, infantile etc. I guess it's just
the price I pay for my bleeding heart liberal
The thing is, I believe most of these people deserve a chance
at a better
life. I can't sit with my hands under my butt while women who
beaten, insulted and imprisoned for an "incorrect" wearing of
the hejab are
deported back into the arms of their persecutors. I like seeing families
reunited. Or doing pro bono work for a couple defrauded out of
hard-earned money by an unscrupulous con artist posing as an attorney.
Call me crazy! I like to help people!
More often than not, my clients have just arrived from Iran,
or even if they
have lived here for many years, they just can't shake the homegrown
that the LAW and the GOVERNMENT are a mysterious, untrustworthy maze,
of corruption and injustice.
Guess what? They're not that far off!
Under the current
Ashcroft regime, which has turned the
a bunch of John Wayne wannabes who indiscriminately reject perfectly
applications solely on the basis that they feel like they are the
at the gates, protecting America from a "Middle-Eastern threat".
So I have more than sympathy and understanding when they ask
me to hold
their hands and guide them through these murky waters. It's just
sometimes... phewwww... well some days I get more testy than others.
feels good to rant once in a while.
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