The Intersection of Accidents and Immigration
I have been practicing law in the Houston area since 1992.
In these last three decades I have seen the population in
Houston grow significantly. Soon we will pass Chicago and
be the third largest city in the U.S. Much of this growth has
been spurred by an exploding immigrant population.
On the very first day I opened my office three decades ago,
a gentleman and his wife unexpectedly showed up wanting
to begin an immigrant petition case. That morning I woke up
late and was expecting to arrive at my new office to finish
building my desk and move in the rest of my furniture. Around
10:00 am, my secretary called me at home and said "Where
are you? You have clients here." I sped over and sitting there
was my first real client, a man whose name I have never
forgotten--Ballow. He had recently married a young woman
from Mexico and now he wanted to obtain her permanent
Three decades and thousands of immigration cases later,
I have seen how the immigration population in Houston has
evolved and grown. One of the first things an immigrant
obtains is a license and shortly afterwards he or she begins
to drive around Houston's often congested and busy streets
and highways. Often an immigrant drives without a license
out of necessity. Either way, these new drivers inevitably
get involved in fender benders and sometimes more serious
I do not remember the first accident client that hired me,
but I am rather sure it was an immigrant. What I do remember
is that at the time, I thought only citizens could make a claim
for personal injuries. So I asked a good lawyer friend of mine,
Timothy, if he believed this was a valid case. "Of course," he
said, "almost all of my accident clients are immigrants." And
thus personal injury became a significant part of my law practice,
numbering nearly a thousand such clients since the day I opened
Now three decades later, the streets of Houston contain
hundreds of thousands of drivers who have either immigrated
here or who are the sons and daughters of immigrants who
obtained their residency since the day I opened my office.
When immigrant drivers have accidents, they face unique
situations due to their immigration status. Some are afraid
to make a claim for their injuries due to their status (or as I
believed) do not know that they have the right to make a claim.
Others do not have a license and get ticketed and sometimes
arrested. Due to these accidents some even end up in
deportation court for one reason or another.
In the end, every driver on a Houston street needs to know
that they do have the right to make a claim for personal
injuries, regardless of immigration status. An accident can
also sometimes lead to criminal or immigration issues and
if that does happen the person still has the right to defend
themselves from any charges.
The intersection of accidents and immigration can be tricky
to maneuver and every person should take steps to preserve
their rights if they find themselves in such a situation. I will
therefore be posting blog updates every week or so on areas
of the law that pertain to immigration and/or accidents.