Coming to America
SO MUCH FOR THE HONEYMOON. RATI SUD HAD BARELY STEPPED OFF THE
plane after a 17-hour flight from India when her new husband allegedly
punched her and pushed her off the bed for refusing his demands for sex.
It was all downhill from there.
Over the next several months, she later testified, Sud’s husband de-
prived her of food and sleep. He made her look him in the eyes when
she spoke and account for her whereabouts every half hour they were
apart. He belittled and
degraded her in public.
She also never knew when
he would snap and slap
her, punch her or slam her
head into a window.
Sud was trapped—
literally and figuratively. Hers
was an arranged marriage.
She had immigrated to
the United States after
her marriage in 2005 on an
H4 visa. The visa made
her ineligible to work, unable to get a Social Security number and completely
dependent on her abusive
Sud thought she had little choice but to endure
the domestic violence if
she wanted to stay in the
United States. But she
learned that she was eligible for a little-known visa
available to otherwise undocumented immigrant crime victims called a
U visa. The visa blocks the deportation of people like Sud if they co-operate with law enforcement.
But the wheels of justice turn very slowly in the United States, Sud
learned. Although the law creating the visa was
passed in 2000, the implementing regulations were
not published until 2007, and applications were piling up, further delaying the process. According to
the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
some 14,000 U visa applications were pending before it as of last December. A spokeswoman for the agency attributed
the delay to the complicated nature of the process. “A lot of different
issues had to be resolved,” she said.
A triage system was implemented to process the most urgent cases
first, and staff was increased to handle applications in a more timely
manner. Now that those issues have been addressed, the government
is moving to help out Sud and others like her. Sud, who divorced her
husband in 2007, received her U visa in May after a three-year wait.
As of Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, more than 4,500 U visas
had been issued. About 6,600 others are pending, with requests for
supplemental information from applicants. Another 6,400 applications
are still being processed.
Sud, now living with family in Maryland, has a job and says she is living a healthy, happy life. “Every cloud has a silver lining,” she says.
“Mine had a very big one.” —Mark Hansen
Watch Rati Sud’s story
There always have been legions of disaffected and unhappy lawyers. Few, however,
thought there were any alternative ways of
practicing law that might change their outlook.
Ten years ago Steve Keeva sought to change
all that with the publication of Transforming
Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the
Legal Life. Keeva, a former ABA Journal
assistant managing editor, offered practical advice
to disillusioned and burned-out lawyers about
making their careers more fulfilling. The book,
which quickly gained a following, is being republished by the ABA in a 10th anniversary
edition that can be purchased at ababooks.org.
Transforming Practices gave lawyers permission to try new ways to improve their personal
and professional happiness, says J. Kim Wright.
The Asheville, N.C., lawyer is the founder of
CuttingEdgeLaw.com, a website devoted to
helping shift the consciousness of what it
means to be a lawyer.
When the book came out, she was living in
the small town of Graham and doing things
other lawyers there found odd—like having
her office comport with the practice of feng
shui. Wright says Keeva’s book appeared at a
time when there was a small but growing attraction to practices other lawyers thought
were weird, including talking about professional dissatisfaction and meditating with clients.
Los Angeles lawyer
Forrest Mosten, a proponent of collaborative law
and mediation, says the
book gave him strength
and helped him find his
core. “By declaring myself a peacemaker,” he says, “my skills and
practice thrived beyond all expectations.”
COME ON, GET HAPPY
about the impact of