November-December 2013

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IMMIGRATION STORIES In Search of the American Dream WHAT'S YOUR STORY? VOICE is looking for immigration stories to publish. If you have a story to tell about a loved one, a friend, or yourself, send it to us, along with photos. Brother's Legal Battle Inspires Switch from Business to Law by Ana T. Yngelmo L eaving Cuba with two small children was the hardest thing my parents ever did, but the opportunities in the United States were worth the sacrifice. At the time, I was 4 years old. I grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., an urban environment that offered more pitfalls than opportunities. Under the grit, however, the promise of something better was always present. Growing up, I took full advantage of the opportunities; unfortunately, my older brother, Pedro, did not. As children, we both excelled academically, but everything changed when we reached Elizabeth High School. My drive allowed me to avoid the negative influences and kept me on course. At graduation, I was ranked 8 out of 810 students. However, as I started my first semester at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, that same month, Pedro began serving a four-year prison sentence for a drug conviction. Going away to college always requires an adjustment, but for me, it was a different kind of change. Others looked forward to being away from home for the freedom and excitement of freshman year; I just wanted to escape the problems in my house. The police raids at our home, and my mother, who now needed medication to get through the day. I thought getting away would solve all my problems, but I was wrong. During orientation week, everyone spoke of their older siblings and parents in whose footsteps they were following at Penn. However, I kept quiet. I felt shame and anger for my family's situation, but most of all, I felt sadness. Seemingly, everyone had loved ones visiting them, but I had to communicate with Pedro via collect calls and letters. Eventually, I accepted the reality of the situation; after a while, it almost seemed normal. But all the anguish returned on graduation day, when I looked into the stands, and, of course, Pedro was not there. After graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C., to work at Deloitte & Touche, one of the top four accounting firms in the country. During this time, Pedro, a legal resident, was placed in deportation proceedings because of his conviction. It was this new legal battle that ultimately led to my decision to become an immigration attorney. "[MY BROTHER] PEDRO WAS CAUGHT IN A LEGAL LIMBO DURING WHICH HE SPENT NEARLY TWO ADDITIONAL YEARS IN CUSTODY WITHOUT ANY INDICATION OF WHEN OR IF HE WOULD BE RELEASED." N OVEMBER/ D ECEMBER 2013 19

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