Nevada State Assemblyman, District 28
When you were a child, what did you want to be?
Like many children born to immigrant parents, I translated as they struggled with English. While still very young, I participated in very grown-up conversations. Everything from explaining leases to negotiating car purchases, and more. Each conversation empowered me more. Two legal battles drained my family and led to my becoming a lawyer. Feeling utterly helpless and voiceless--feelings my parents suffered for too many years in this country--I sat in a courtroom whispering into my father’s ear as the judge announced his order forever separating my family. Too young to know exactly what a lawyer did, I resolved at that moment to become one, so I would never again feel so powerless and defenseless.
Tell me about your decision to attend Boyd School of Law.
Born here, I felt indebted to Las Vegas. Attending Boyd allowed me to surround myself with people I care about and who share the same ambition to make this state better than we inherited it.
Is there a case that you are particularly proud of?
A desperate mother walked in 10 minutes before closing on a Thursday. Her son would be deported Friday. One all-nighter later, after an Emergency Stay and Motion to Reopen, followed by ICE and detention center visits, her son stayed in Las Vegas and was released a few days later.
I take pride in legislation I sponsor: creating parity between federal and state laws to protect immigrant children; shutting down predatory businesses preying on our most vulnerable members of society; closing loop-holes used by pay-day and title-lending companies to keep unwitting borrowers on the debt treadmill; providing annual career and college counseling to all 9th graders and above to facilitate their paths to success; and so many more.
Whom do you admire and why?
I admire my parents most. They persevered through many hardships, but I never heard them complain. They instilled a confidence to belong wherever I found myself; while reminding me I must earn a right to be there—striking the balance between understanding I am not entitled to anything, but also not prohibited from anything. They arrived in the U.S. with no money, no support structure, and limited education. They toiled seven days a week for years at multiple minimum wage jobs, yet always exhorting their children to believe anything was possible. Their grit and passion follows me into each courtroom and committee hearing. I am a lawyer and Nevada state legislator to fight for people like them.
If you were speaking to a group of recent Boyd Law graduates, what would you say?
Stay true to and never abandon the grit, determination and fundamental values that got them into law school through graduation. Resist the forces constantly eroding those strong, foundational values into something less sturdy. That strong foundation is your floor (never your ceiling) to build upon. Generating ever more billable hours should never be at the expense of your integrity, health, and reputation. Constantly check your foundational pulse and moral compass to avoid becoming something you never intended to become. Last, refrain from big purchases your first two years in practice. Incurring debt ties you to a paycheck and limits opportunities to grow and move to another firm to find your best fit. It is hard to leave even something you hate if anchored by a stack of bills.