Time passed. I was getting nervous since I hadn’t heard anything from the U.S.Customs and Immigration Services.
The date is now November of 2007, and I am nearing the end of my one-year renewable work permit (I still keep the card for posterity). Although I was calling the law office daily, the lawyer would either not return my calls or would stand me up for appointments when I drove up to Beverly Hills to see him. The year 2007 was much different than 2006 for me. I was now living in Santa Ana and was now section leader of the Pacific Chorale – so I was getting to know more people. After about a month of getting nowhere with the law offices, I turned to one of my friends for help. My dear friend said we should go and speak with a Congressman he knew.
I met with the Congressman’s assistant on January 9th, 2008 to ask for help because I had a “gut feeling” that my current attorney was incompetent. I told the assistant that the lawyer would not give me any documents in my file. The assistant gave me her business card and told me to drive there and demand a copy of my documents from my attorney. I went to Beverly Hills the next morning and told the attorney’s assistant it was my legal right to have a copy of whatever was in my file and handed him the Congressman’s business card. That scared the poo out of him, so he photocopied a copy of everything that was in my file. That felt very empowering. That was the last day I felt a total sense of peace: January 10th, 2008. It has been a battle with depression since then…because of what I discovered.
The assistant had no idea what he was photocopying. To make a long story short, my lawyer turned out to be not only negligent but dishonest, and not even a licensed lawyer. He was using someone else’s license.
I called another friend of mine to tell him what happened, and he told me that there was a member in the Pacific Chorale that could help me find a reputable attorney – and he did. I am proud to say I have an excellent attorney now who worked extremely hard at getting my situation rectified. There is still this tremendous bill though!
The pain the first attorney caused me was overwhelming. I saw an almost instant change in my personality and really felt like I was looking at an image of myself in the mirror in the morning…and not the real thing. Sad doesn’t cover it. Angry doesn’t even cover it. Fear didn’t cover it either; however, that was the feeling I felt the most. I didn’t want to have to move back to Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada! I just didn’t want to have to start my career over. I’ve also made what my friend Ann calls a “tribe.” People I would step in front of a truck for (for lack of a good analogy)…Ann, John, Aram, Betty, Lydia, Carmen, Nancy, David…they are my American family. If I left to go back to Canada like this, I would not be able to enter the U.S. to see them again. Of course, at this point in the game, unbeknownst to me, I discovered I had become technically a criminal because my visa had expired (I wasn’t REALLY a criminal…only technically since it was not my fault and my current lawyer was fixing it). Also, it’s fixed now. Everything is fine now – except the debt (see the trend?).
My current attorney was now coming to the rescue (at $375.00/hour) and was going to try and undo all the mess the first attorney’s office did.
Go to the next page to read what happens next.