Not a Clash of Cultures

Two days ago I was in Federal Court at the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) office with my client, who is from Central America and has a pending asylum claim. She speaks no English and I speak only a handful of Spanish. I realize French words find their way into my sentences, the result of studying both languages and speaking neither. I sit with her in the waiting area, listening to a mosaic of languages spoken by families about us. No one else has an attorney. When the door opens, it is always a male ICE agent, and he speaks a name, meets the person, and sometimes shifts into Spanish. These are check-ins: ICE is running criminal checks and confirming court dates. The agents are polite. The people listen.

It is a meeting point of cultures. Some have traveled thousands of miles to reach this place. I do not see here any of the characterizations promoted by the left or the right. Just people, in their roles, apparently following the rules of the process.

My client’s appointment lasts just 30 seconds. Everything is fine for now. I sense her deep relief. We walk out together, into the sun, and she is joyful. I say goodbye, possibly speaking French.

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