What is your legal background and what kind of law have you practiced?
I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of California, Davis, and my Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law. I am a member of the California Bar and admitted to practice before the California Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
I currently practice immigration law exclusively with emphasis on family-based immigration, citizenship and deportation defense. I am an active member of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association. I was selected by the National Advocates Top 100 Lawyers for 2015, American Society of Legal Advocates Top 40 Lawyers under 40 in 2015 and also Rising Star by Super Lawyers for 2015. Also, I was recently elected as president of the Eastern Alameda County Bar Association.
What got you interested in pro bono work?
I migrated to the United States in the 1980s as a refugee from Afghanistan. My first experience upon arriving as a young refugee was the countless people that provided my family and me with support in adjusting to our life here. This positive experience left me feeling grateful for all that had been done for my family and me by strangers who only had the desire to provide us with support to adjust to a new life.
One of the difficult aspects of my childhood was that while I was able to migrate to the United States with my siblings, my mother, unfortunately, could not come with us because her immigration papers were not processed properly. As a result of these mistakes, I lived without my mother for almost 10 years, and this had a tremendous impact on my life growing up and my desire to become an immigration attorney.
I have never forgotten the kindness of those individuals who helped my family and their gracious welcome and support. As a result of my childhood experiences, I have always wanted to pay it forward, as the saying goes. I have been privileged to receive my law degree and my goal and ambition has always been to help those less fortunate. Representing some of my clients on a pro bono basis has given me the opportunity to give back to the community, especially those who cannot afford legal representation and face imminent deportation from the United States.
What kind of pro bono/volunteer work do you do?
A wide variety!
- I have served as a pro bono attorney at the immigration legal clinic at UC Davis and have represented clients pro bono at the San Francisco Immigration Court.
- I have volunteered for the Contra Costa and Alameda County Lawyers in the Library programs for several years.
- I conduct a monthly immigration legal clinic at La Familia Community Center in Hayward, and present a two-hour monthly immigration clinic, where I provide free immigration consults and take on limited pro bono cases.
- I provide free legal consultation and limited representation for clients referred from Centro Services, Catholic Charities, International Institute of the Bay Area and Centro Legal.
- For the past year, I have visited detained immigration inmates at the Federal Correction Institute in Dublin on a monthly basis and provided pro bono services.
- I also provide limited pro bono legal services to the Afghan community throughout the Bay Area.
- I serve as president of the Eastern Alameda County Bar Association.
I currently serve as president of the Executive Committee Board for Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. CAIR’s vision is to be leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.
What have you gained from taking on this pro bono work?
My most rewarding cases are pro bono cases, as the clients have so much trust and hope in me and by winning their cases, I have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. I feel very fortunate and honored to be a part of my clients’ lives and to have had the opportunity to impact them in a positive way.
What is up next for you?
In the coming years, my goal is to expand my immigration law practice. I am also working on opening an immigration legal clinic at the local mosque in Pleasanton. More importantly, I want to prepare myself to take the exam to become a California certified legal specialist in immigration law and continue to serve immigrants throughout the Bay Area, United States and worldwide.