When Jack Moriarty surveyed the room he was sitting in, he saw that the attendees were comprised of about 20 people, all female and under the age of 35. He was the only man present. And his 48-year career as a patent attorney put him in the decided minority. Jack and the others were attending an informational seminar on immigration law at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.
Jack had been close to retiring from law when he started to see disturbing tendencies in the news. “I couldn't help but notice outrageous and unacceptable things happening to foreigners entering America, the land of opportunity,” he says. “I was glad my immigrant grandparents from Ireland and Germany, two of my grandchildren from China, & my son-in-law from Mexico were not treated the same way.”
After talking to the Clinic’s Executive Director Chris Purnell, Jack decided the only thing to do was to get involved himself. “I was sold when [Chris] said the Clinic offered immigration training and had plenty of clients that needed help,” he tells me.
Now, as a seasoned volunteer attorney for the Clinic, Jack takes on a variety of immigration cases. He assists with asylum interview hearings, applications for naturalization cases, applications to replace permanent resident cards, applications for extension of DACA cases, and more.
For Jack, volunteering in this particular area of law is especially rewarding and he explains that many cases he takes on involve clients who would not have achieved their immigration goals without help. “When the Hearing Officer recommends a favorable action, some clients are stunned and afterwards cry when they ask you whether it’s true they were successful,” he says. “Some find it difficult to say goodbye to you.”
Of course, the outcomes are not always favorable. Those moments when he is unable to fix everything for a client in need are the hardest for Jack, but his faith spurs him onward. Bible verses like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” provide Jack with clear guidance about what he is supposed to do. “These aren’t just nice words, but are rules of conduct,” he explains.
Despite his ongoing commitment to the Legal Clinic and its clients, Jack does not view volunteering as work. “In immigration, you meet people really from around the world, see how they differ but are the same as you, observe the clients' excitement while they wonder if they will be allowed to live in the USA,” he says. “This is a very big deal for them, and provides you with new challenges to help them achieve their goals. The personal reward you receive is beyond what would be expected as you realize what you and the Clinic staff have achieved.”