Order Super Lawyers Branded Gifts for a Selected Attorney
Give Us Your Scientists, Your Engineers, Yearning to Breathe Free

Give Us Your Scientists, Your Engineers, Yearning to Breathe Free


Published in: 2008 Wisconsin Super Lawyers — December 2008

Immigration lawyer Glorily Lopez on who we're keeping out and why


There's timing and there's timing. Glorily Lopez opened her immigration law practice in February 2001—seven months before the 9/11 attacks changed everything. "Many U.S. consulates shut down, travel was restricted, and many cases were delayed," she remembers.

Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Lopez went to Catholic prep school and graduated with honors. Her lawyer-father had attended St. John's in Minnesota and he encouraged her to accept a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where she began studies in 1991 at the age of 17. "I had never even seen snow before, so the blizzard on Oct. 31, 1991, was a shock for me."

She got her J.D. at Madison. Since her husband, a molecular scientist, was based in Madison, Lopez opened her own firm there, where she'd noticed a need for specialists in immigration law. "Given that I am in a university town, we have clients who are highly educated," she says. "We represent professors, researchers and students from the university. But there's also a growing Latino community here in Madison."

After 9/11, there were many changes in immigration policy—some welcome, some not—but the brunt of the problem, she says, can still be traced to the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

Lopez says current U.S. immigration statutes make it difficult for families to stay together because they don't provide enough ways for undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens to acquire residency visas themselves. "They either have to remain here undocumented—and obviously, with the advent of many immigration raids, that becomes quite difficult, and then essentially wait, perhaps for a comprehensive immigration bill to pass Congress—or, in the alternative, pursue an application for an immigrant visa through the American consulate."

It's tough for businesses as well. Under the current system, employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers are not only subject to higher civil monetary sanctions, but, in many instances, criminal prosecution. "The environment is fairly hostile right now, even for employers who want to do the right thing," she says.

Example: A company she represents can't find the people it needs in Wisconsin so it's looking abroad. The appropriate visas for professional workers are called H-1B visas, which employers can initially file for up to three years with a possible three-year extension. Congress used to have a higher cap for professional workers, but in recent years it has reverted to the base level: 65,000 per year. "We have had, essentially, blackout periods for the last three years because there are more petitions that are filed with the Department of Homeland Security"—Lopez estimates 300,000 last year alone—"than the cap allows. So we just got rejected. Not on the merits. Not on anything.

"These are workers that we want here. We want the scientists, the engineers. We want the individuals—many of them have graduated from Madison with a master's or Ph.D., or just bachelor's—and these companies that really need their services are not able to hire them."

She adds, "The United States was founded and built by immigrants, and their contributions have been essential to making it the great nation it is today."

But first they have to get in.


View Lawyer Profiles:

Glorily A. Lopez

Super Lawyers Magazine
What is Super Lawyers

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Read more »

Super Lawyers Articles
Putting the Puzzle Together

Putting the Puzzle Together

Elder law attorney Ruthann Lacey blends professionalism with compassion

In the Express Lane

How Louise Parent moved up the AmEx corporate ladder

King of the Tabloids

Mark Geragos is on the front page as often as his high-profile clients

The Unpredictable Quarterback

Joe Hurley keeps his clients in the clear by keeping his opponents guessing

The Gunslinger, the Bulldog or the Pit Bull

The Gunslinger, the Bulldog or the Pit Bull

Call her what you want—Cecilie Loidolt just wins

Popular Searches

New York Lawyers

Northern California Lawyers

Florida Lawyers

Massachusetts Lawyers

Nevada Lawyers

Minnesota Lawyers

Washington DC Lawyers

Southern California Lawyers

Illinois Lawyers

Maryland Lawyers

Texas Lawyers

Georgia Lawyers


Find Us On


Visit Super Lawyers UK