In joining Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, Virginia Raymond begins her third chapter in immigration law.
Chapter One began in 1982, when she heard Lisa Brodyaga talk at a National Lawyers Guild regional meeting in Buescher State Park. Brodyaga described the flight of refugees from the Death Squads and war in El Salvador – conditions for which the U.S. was in large part responsible – and how immigration officials treated these refugees on their arrival in South Texas. She also introduced her audience to the double-pronged strategy of advocates. The first combined the Sanctuary Movement with a new “underground railroad” to Canada. A second took place primarily in the immigration courts. Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen was one locus of legal advocacy, and Virginia began to volunteer there during law school breaks. Later, as a lawyer who had recently accepted her first asylum case under the mentorship of Barbara Hines, Virginia spent several months as a volunteer at Proyecto Libertad. A long story later, the Political Asylum Project of Austin/Proyecto Político de Austin (PAPA) emerged out of collaborative work under the auspices of the National Lawyers Guild, Casa Marianella, and the Friends Meeting of Austin. Virginia stayed intimately involved with PAPA as a volunteer and board member until 2000.
Chapter Two began in 2013, when Virginia returned to practice law after an 18-year hiatus spent as a graduate student, teacher, oral historian, and parent. She could not have predicted the chaotic, cruel, and heartbreaking nature of the period beginning in the summer of 2014 with the re-introduction of family “detention” (call it immcarceration); increase in imprisonment of asylum seekers; the adoption of “Zero Tolerance” as a means to forcibly take babies, toddlers, and older children away from their parents at the U.S. – Mexico border in 2018; the “metering” and “Remain in Mexico” policies that forced asylum-seekers to live in crowded shelters or encampments south of the U.S. border; and a series of rule changes and Attorney General opinions that attempted to eliminate asylum entirely. Virginia practiced removal defense almost exclusively, in her own practice as well as for a time at Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors, between 2013 and September 2021. She spent way, way, way too much time in immigration prisons, and continues to represent about twenty households still in various stages of removal proceedings. Virginia also shares the hard lessons of this period as a mentor at Vecina (vecina.org).
Virginia appreciates working as part of a strong and varied team, a new and splendid experience for someone who has mostly worked as a solo practitioner or in other very small settings. The culture at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is one of mutual respect and full communication. It is exciting to work on a wide range of cases with knowledgeable, dedicated, and compassionate colleagues. There is a lot of love about working here!
As a lecturer at UTSA, Virginia currently teaches undergraduate courses in Mexican American Literature and in Feminist Literary Theory, and a graduate seminar on women’s writing in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latinx U.S.A.
But the most important part? Virginia and her husband Tom raised three kids. Unfortunately, they all live far away right now. Fortunately, they are all happily pursuing their own paths. Louis is a percussionist and composer. Becca, an MD, works crazy long hours in a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency. Joey, a lawyer, and his wife Liana, who works in public health, are parents of a little person. Grandparenthood is a source of delirious joy and constant wonder for the recently renamed “Yinya” and “Tata.”