Saturday, May 10, 2014

Letter to My Future Wife: Will You Seek Immigrant Justice With Courage and Devotion With Me? By Juan Quevedo



“I’m a lover not a fighter,” said the eighteen-year-old me.  The eighteen-year-old me didn’t care about high school grades or applying to college.  Rather, the eighteen-year-old me cared about finding love.  But, the eighteen-year-old me knew nothing about love, or to use the vernacular, the eighteen-year-old me knew nothing about nothing.  Although I never found love, I learned to practice love.


I’m no longer eighteen, but in my late twenty’s; nor am a high school student, but a second-year law student.  Last night I attended a “graduate night” designed to introduce both, graduate and professional students to each other.  Disappointed with the outcome, my female friend said to me, “I was hoping to meet a potential significant other.  I suppose you were too?” I hesitated.  But after a five second deliberation with myself, I responded with a doubtful, “I guess.”


I hesitated because I associated a significant other with love, i.e., when you find a significant other you also find love.  But that is not logic, but tradition.  Nonetheless, herein lies the problem… I have already found love.


You may be thinking, “Well gee, Juan, how can you find love and not a human being?”


Easy. I have fallen deeply in love, not with a human being, but with the law.  Not with walking the dog or gazing at the stars or watching the sunset, but with seeking equal justice, organizing for civil rights and advocating for genuine representation of the low-income and undocumented immigrant community.  “I have not found love and contentment in the smallest or simplest things,” but the largest and most complex and convoluted things, e.g., immigration and criminal law.


But enough about the law, and more about love.


The truth is “I have not fallen in love, but learned to practice love.  Because real love isn’t something passive that you fall into; rather, love is something that is active.  Love is a practice; it’s something that you do every day, not something that you sit around and wait to show up on your doorstep in the form of a human being.” 2


Therefore, practicing law with direction and vigor requires the realist kind of love, i.e., reasons other than one’s own self aggrandizement or benefit.  That said, I work as a Spanish interpreter for my law school’s immigration clinic.  I interpret everything from straightforward N-400s to complex I-589s requiring cross-examinations with expert witnesses in foreign countries.   I vividly recall interpreting a cross-examination that involved a woman about my age that fled Central Latin America to avoid her abusive husband.  Long story short, this woman was in removal proceedings and feared for her life if she returned to her native country.  By doing everything in my power to ensure this woman’s voice was heard clearly and accurately, I practiced love.


Although I’m currently a law student, I intend to practice love when I stand before a judge; When I write and submit a trial or appellate brief; When I file motions with the United States Citizenship Immigration Services; And when I practice Houstonian Jurisprudence and impact litigation.  Perhaps lack of love is why law school or being a lawyer is not for everyone (which is okay, because the world needs love in other areas too).  However, suffice it to say that I have found something worth living for.


So there you have it.  To experience love, you must practice love.  And until then, I would argue, “you cannot truly experience the realest kind of romantic love with the person who will one day step into your life.” 3 




To the woman who will one day become my partner in defense (not crime!) and advocacy: Yes. I have already found love… Now all I’m waiting on–patiently, deliberately, and with faith–is you.  “I cannot wait–as in, I am like, Tom Cruise [discovering how to defend his clients in A Few Good Men] excited–to meet you.” 5


Therefore, to my future wife, will you seek immigrant justice with courage and devotion with me?





1. Therese Schwenkler, A Letter to My Future Husband: Why I’ve Given Up on My Search for Love. 2. Id. 3. Id. 4. Id. 5. Id.

Juan Quevedo is a second-year law student at the University of Tennessee College of Law.  Juan Quevedo is a clerk for the University of Tennessee Immigration Clinic.

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