Tales from a ‘Reluctant” Immigration Lawyer

Don’t get me wrong. I like what I do. Helping individuals, families and companies with their cross border needs is very rewarding and challenging. And I am proud of our track record and hope to continue doing what I do best for the forseeable future. 

But the truth is that I wish it all weren’t necessary. Imagine living in a world where people who want to move to a new country for a better life could simply pack their bags, hop on a plane, train or an automobile and pursue their dreams. No need for extensive applications, documentation and yes no need for immigration lawyers!  Imagine that!

But alas let’s get our heads out of the clouds. Dreams are not enough these days. In the “old days” people from Europe  and other regions fleeing oppressive societies, took great personal risk to come to Canada and to the US, sometimes with nothing but the shirts on their backs. These brave souls, some without any education or experience, worked hard to build a new life in the new world for themselves and their families. Our society is what it is today thanks to these pioneers.

Back then the government wasn’t really in the business of immigration. There was no “selection criteria”, point system,  occupation list. Rather individuals not governments ran the show.  But now? It’s the opposite. Government controls and manages all aspects of immigration from who can apply, who gets in and who stays out.

During the presidential debates today between President Obama and Governor Romney, the topic of immigration reform was raised. Romney said something very telling: He said that immigration lawyers should not be needed in order for people to immigrate to the United States. Well, Governor, I couldn’t agree more. But as he and his fellow regulators well know,  immigration lawyers are necessary because of government regulation; because of the red tape and because government is in the business of immigration.

Now while I think that when it comes to admitting people into our lands, there is a proper limited role for government: to conduct criminal and medical background checks but that is it. Yes what we need is an “open immigration system” And with such a system, immigration lawyers need not apply. In such a system it is our free market, employers, families who decides who comes and who stays. And as history has shown, there is no better judge than…..us.

But until the enormous red tape is removed and the law is simplified, immigration lawyers are here to stay and as one, I am charged with the duty to fight for my clients to cut though the red tape so their dreams can come true.


Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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