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Putting the human in humanity

Putting the human in humanity

As told to Jon Caroulis December 27, 2021
Illustration of Ricky Palladino
Ricky Palladino

am the grandson of immigrants. I believe immigration is a human issue, not a political issue, and I have seen this play out numerous times as an immigration lawyer.

In one case, I was representing a woman from Uzbekistan in deportation proceedings. She sought asylum because she was abused by her husband. She was hospitalized multiple times from beatings and suffered depression and PTSD.  Her case took three years because she belonged to a battered women’s group that had the same name of a terrorist organization in Uzbekistan. The name of the group was the Uzbek word for “justice.” 

The fight in her case was not only about the persecution she would endure, but also about whether she was a terrorist. In the end, justice prevailed and she was granted asylum, but her case illustrates the tremendous complexity of the immigration system.

I receive many phone calls that begin, “I voted for [insert politician here] and think our immigration system is broken, but I have this worker-neighbor-friend-church member who is the exception to the rule.” Or they’ll call and say, “Why can’t my worker become legalized when they are letting all of these people in the country who are crossing the border?” 

What they don’t realize is most immigrants are escaping the same problems — gang violence, lack of jobs, lack of food. It’s amazing how it changes someone’s views on immigration when they have a personal relationship with an immigrant.

In 2020, I started the law firm of Palladino,
Isbell & Casazza in Philadelphia. We currently employ six lawyers and a retired immigration judge with the sole purpose of practicing immigration law, helping clients all over the country.

An internship with the Immigration and Naturalization Service introduced me to the nuances of immigration law and was the catalyst for me to attend law school, wanting to practice immigration law. My inclination was to represent individuals, like my grandparents, who needed assistance in establishing a better life for themselves and their families in the United States. 

I chose the UD School of Law because I wanted to continue my Catholic education. It was important to me that UD offered classes on immigration law, refugee and asylum law, and international law taught from a Catholic perspective, aligning with my ideals.

I was particularly influenced by professor Cooley Howarth’s dynamic teaching style. He got us to question the source of laws. Just about every class, he would reiterate “only Congress can make law” when teaching us about administrative agencies. I think about him and some of his sayings from class monthly, as I deal with administrative agencies frequently. He had a profound impact on my legal development. 

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