Immigration lawyer Fiona McEntee, 33, is a prime example of an Irish diaspora success story that shows us that the American dream is alive and well.
McEntee, who has been featured in American Vogue and on U.S. television, had started off at UCD (University College Dublin), then went on to get her Juris doctorate in Chicago.
Both of McEntee’s parents are also successful, having run a chain of beauty salons and barber shops all over south Dublin; it isn’t surprising that she takes after them.
The Administration wants to eliminate almost all of the family-based green card categories in exchange for some legal status for DREAMERS. @Maria_Hinojosa & I spoke to @nbcaaron this weekend on @MSNBC & we outlined how anti-immigrant this plan is... #CleanDreamAct #iamanimmigrant pic.twitter.com/OSFmmIjHoM— Fiona McEntee (@USVisaLawyer) January 30, 2018
She is described as having done very well in her law classes at college and since then, she has established her own legal practice in Chicago, introduced a chain of beauty salons to the city, and has been recently honored as one of the 40 most important Irish under 40 years of age.
However, despite everything seeming perfect for the young lawyer, McEntee told The Independent , “It can be very tough living away from Ireland.”
“Life moves on without you. People here (Chicago) often assume that you want to move to the US if you grow up in Ireland but that isn’t the case at all. Even though I’ve always had a great support structure around me emotionally, it can be difficult being an immigrant.”
Many immigrants, like McEntee, often come to the United States for new opportunities and work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they ever want to leave home; they just want a better life.
So a side of children in cages doesn't go well with your congressional picnic @realDonaldTrump? Of course it doesn't feel right to have a picnic, there are toddlers in CAGES!!!! #FamilySeparation #KeepFamiliesTogether— Fiona McEntee (@USVisaLawyer) June 20, 2018
As an immigration lawyer, McEntee receives many cases of undocumented Irish people in the states who came here for work opportunities, but are unable to go home for a relative’s funeral because they won’t be allowed to come back.
“These are people who add to the cultural and business life in the US. It’s inhumane,” McEntee said.
McEntee has a personal experience with this situation, when her own grandmother passed away as she was taking the infamously difficult bar exam in Illinois. Her mother told her not to go home to Ireland and didn’t tell her of her grandmother’s declining health so as not to distract her from her studies.
“I didn’t come home for my grandmother’s funeral, which was such a tough thing. When Joan (her grandmother) was dying I rang mum and she said to me ‘we’re all fine, we’re just sitting here watching Friends’.”
Because she was an immigrant, McEntee also had difficulty in paying for her university education since it is much harder to take out student loans unless you’re a U.S. national or have been based in the country for several years. There’s no doubt that her current success wasn’t an easy journey from the start.
After one year of working as a lawyer in Chicago, McEntee had built a great reputation in the city among her clients and fellow lawyers alike. She even received the Calley Award, which is an award that goes out to the top young lawyer in the city.
Following this, she decided to go solo as an immigrant lawyer focusing around immigration law to help others seeking to come to the U.S legally. Some of her more famous clients range for visa applications were The Boomtown Rats, The Coronas, and others.
In the midst of the current calls for immigration reform in the U.S., McEntee has been outspoken in campaigning for change. Recently, she was among many to call for Dublin’s 4th of July celebration at the U.S. ambassador’s residence to be cancelled because she argued that no one should be celebrating while children are being locked up in cages.
Now, despite her story as an immigrant, McEntee feels as though America is home now and that her family have established roots in the country.