Give Her Your Tired, Your Poor …

Gloria Goldman fights for the American dream        

Published in 2008 Southwest Super Lawyers — June 2008

The letter still brings tears to the eyes of Tucson immigration attorney Gloria Goldman.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you and a million more thank yous for helping me stay with my parents and brothers who love me," wrote a child whose adoption by immigrants Goldman made possible. The girl changed her name to Gloria to honor the lawyer.

"You get to change lives doing what I do," Goldman says. "It's law with a social work aspect to it. ... In the end, you can make an incredible difference."

Goldman, 59, knows what's at stake. She arrived in the United States at 6 months old with her parents, both Holocaust survivors, in 1949. The family came aboard a U.S. Army ship bringing soldiers home. They settled in Michigan, where Goldman graduated with a bachelor's degree in deaf education from Wayne State University in 1970. She taught for several years, then moved to Tucson to raise a family with her orthodontist husband.

The law came by happenstance when Goldman picked up an LSAT preparation book at a local store in 1987. She took the exam two weeks later, and graduated from the University of Arizona Law School in 1990. "Early on, I was over my head," says Goldman. "But I was careful what cases I would pick." She found herself drawn to immigration law because of her own background; plus, there was a shortage of attorneys in the field.

These days, Goldman has a three-month waiting list for clients. She speaks passionately in favor of granting legal residence to those here illegally and offering safe passage to temporary workers. She feels for the children involved.

"Immigration has its ups and downs and we're in a low time right now," says Goldman, who works with her lawyer son at Goldman & Goldman. "I would think we'll get wise, but we'll just have to see."

Goldman's doing her part case by case, country by country. She helped a Nigerian doctor prove his medical expertise to win legal residency. When University of Arizona instructor Jamal Tabatabai was detained for six days by the INS after Sept. 11 (despite having lived in the United States since age 12) he called Goldman. She got him political asylum. Then there were the two sisters from Mexico who were raised in Tucson by their grandparents. When they were told by the government that only one of the girls was a citizen, and the other must leave, Goldman fought to keep both women in the United States.

She is also the local chair of the American Immigration Law Foundation's "I Am America" creative-writing contest for fifth-graders. "Maybe they will dialogue with their parents and better understand we are a nation of immigrants," she says. "That the Statue of Liberty is out there for a reason. And she is not going to be knocked down anytime soon."

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