Coming to America—It’s Harder Than You Think

Michael J. Van Zandt

This issue of Experience explores the difficulties of emigrating to America if you’re a senior citizen in another country. Imagine you live in a war-torn, crime-infested, politically corrupt, gang-populated part of the world and you’re aged 60 or older. Imagine you’re a minority member of your society and no longer welcome in your own community. Imagine you’ve reached your sunset years and desire to live in a more inviting, comfortable part of the world with amenities and natural beauty you don’t find at home. Imagine your children have managed to escape this infested environment with your help to America.

As you age, you saw yourself in retirement in your community, but things have changed and perhaps not for the good. How do you visit your children and grandchildren in America, let alone emigrate to America and give up your home and your native country?

This issue concentrates on immigration, including from the unique perspective of the elderly. Mary K. Ryan explains how the ABA created and operates two legal service programs to assist immigrants at our southern border seeking asylum. She relates in vivid detail the hardships of the immigration process, the difficult and chaotic asylum hearings, and the joy of helping a man who feared for his life if returned to his home to stay in America. She also provides information on how you can help these very worthwhile projects.

Rebecca Kitson details the limited options senior parents face when they seek to come to America, whether as tourists or permanently. Convincing the American consular officials of your true intent may be difficult even if you’re just seeking to obtain a tourist visa. Convincing them you should be permitted to emigrate permanently faces even greater obstacles.

Switching gears, John Levin delves into the world of artificial intelligence and its ethical implications for the law profession. Can an AI algorithm unintentionally discriminate? Can it violate confidentiality or create a conflict of interest? We’ll soon need ethics counselors for our robots.

Gary Fry takes us on a journey like no other as he delves into his very personal story of growing up sympathizing with homeless orphans and then feeling trapped by his overwhelming need for success practicing law. Along the way, he found the music of Schumann and struggled in a world where he didn’t belong. He escaped at last to a ranch on the Arizona/Mexico border and lifted his pen to champion many a cause. He writes at the end in the third person as if he has risen above his many travails and now finds his own voice and is at peace with his world.

Thomas J. Shaw takes us into the complex world of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917. It’s a license to steal given by Congress to an alien property custodian. Read the article to see how the act survives to this day.

Another column I hope you enjoy is on technology. Our intrepid authors Jeffrey Allen and Ashley Hallene delve into games for the brain. There are many word and number games to invigorate your mind. Solving puzzles is a challenge, and there are many online games that keep your brain tingling. For those who want a bigger, more stimulating experience, try a simulation game where you can build your own civilization. Or maybe you can just play football on your iPad.


Michael J. Van Zandt

Michael J. Van Zandt is a partner and co-chair of the Environmental & Natural Resources group at Hanson Bridgett in San Francisco. In addition to chairing the Experience editorial board, Van Zandt is chair-elect of the Senior Lawyers Division; a member of the SLD Council; a representative for the ABA SLD to the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Special Committee; a Litigation Counsel of America senior fellow; and an American Bar Foundation life fellow.