What’s Happening?


Have news you want to share with the AILA community? It could be a professional announcement, notice of a move, an award you’ve won, or something a bit more personal, such as news of a wedding or a new addition to your family. Send a 500– to 700-character blurb to Rachel Pulda, Associate Director of Online Resources, at rpulda@aila.org and we’ll add it to our What's Happening page. Submissions may be edited at our discretion.


  • Elizabeth Ricci, a Tallahassee-based immigration attorney concentrating on complex legal issues, was selected to receive the Tallahassee Women Lawyers Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award. The award, which was created in 2016, recognizes individuals, businesses, government entities and professional associations who display leadership in fostering diversity in their workplaces or industries and the surrounding community. The award is intended to highlight the contributions of those who advance the cause of justice and equality in the community and society through diversity and inclusion.

    Ricci was selected to receive the Tallahassee Women Lawyers Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award for her efforts to value, promote and celebrate diversity through her immigration work for the LGBTQ+ community, foreign-born veterans and advocacy for members of minority religions. Ricci has taken on controversial immigration cases, pro bono in some instances, and serves on a variety of community groups and boards. She also promotes diversity within her law firm, Rambana & Ricci, PLLC.

    Ricci was presented with the award on June 12 during Tallahassee Women Lawyers' Diversity & Inclusion Celebration.

    Ricci received her Juris Doctor degree from Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad College of Law, and her bachelor's degree in International Business from Barry University. She has served on the Board of Directors for AILA's Central Florida Chapter.
  • Labor laws can be difficult to navigate, but when applied to agricultural employees, they become even more complicated. At the Sixth Annual Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference, Brandon Davis, Partner at Phelps Dunbar, LLP in New Orleans, will discuss agricultural labor and immigration for farmers and agribusinesses. Brandon Davis, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, will be presenting on immigration and agricultural labor. "Brandon is a nationally recognized authority in the areas of agricultural labor and immigration law, representing a wide range of agricultural operations," Pittman said. "He's an excellent resource, and we're very fortunate he's on board for our conference this year."

    For more information, including registration, on the Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference, visit: https://nationalaglawcenter.org/midsouthcle2019/ or read this press release.
  • Rambana & Ricci, PLLC Immigration Attorneys was recognized during Florida State University's 2nd Annual Seminole 100 Celebration on March 2 at FSU's University Center Club in Doak Campbell Stadium. The 2019 Seminole 100, hosted by the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the FSU College of Business in partnership with the FSU Alumni Association and EY, recognized the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned by Florida State alumni. Learn more by reading their press release.
  • Sheela Murthy, the internationally renowned immigration lawyer based in Baltimore County has been recognized as being in the Circle of Influence, a prestigious recognition by The Daily Record on January 31, 2019. Ms. Murthy has previously been recognized among the 50 Most Influential Marylanders for her leadership in the law. The Circle of Influence has only three inductees this year who are recognized for their leadership across different fields and for their community involvement. With Ms. Murthy, it is a recognition of her as an outstanding lawyer, activist, public speaker, entrepreneur, innovator, philanthropist, and the overall impact of her life and work. Each year, approximately fifty individuals are selected as being among the most Influential Marylanders. The selection was made by the editors of The Daily Record from areas that include: civic leadership, communications, education, finance, business, health care, law, philanthropy, real estate, and technology. “This year’s Influential Marylanders demonstrate an impressive record of accomplishment, leadership and vision,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, the publisher of The Daily Record. “The Daily Record is pleased to honor them for all they have done, and will continue to do, for Maryland and beyond.”

    Ms. Murthy will receive these coveted awards as an Influential Marylander in Law and for being inducted into the Circle of Influence, at a ceremonial dinner to be held in March 2019 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. As an immigrant to this great nation, Ms. Murthy is pleased with the recognition as it is an opportunity to showcase the achievements and accomplishments of immigrants in America, a nation of immigrants.

    About the Murthy Law Firm

    The Murthy Law Firm is the one of the largest law firms focusing exclusively in the area of U.S. immigration law (www.murthy.com). The Firm represents small and mid-sized companies, Fortune 500 companies, and individuals undergoing the U.S. immigration process. The lawyers and legal staff provide employers and employees with the latest guidance and the appropriate immigration strategies.
  • Joel Yanovich Elected as Member/Partner at Murthy Law Firm

    The Murthy Law Firm is pleased that the Members (Partners) of the Firm recognized Joel Yanovich and invited him to join their ranks as the newest Member of the firm, effective January 1, 2019.

    Joel joined the Murthy Law Firm in 2011, after having practiced for several years at a boutique business immigration law firm in Los Angeles. As the son of two immigrants, Joel understands the driving force that motivates so many to seek out their American dream. Joel regularly speaks with foreign nationals and employers to guide them on how the Murthy Law Firm can help them achieve their immigration goals. Joel also works closely with foreign national investors and entrepreneurs (under the EB5 program), to help them navigate the various immigration programs designed to attract job creators to the U.S. Joel also keeps a watchful eye on the world’s most popular legal website (www.murthy.com) by helping to draft, edit, and update legal content and coordinates the work of other writers at the law firm.

    About the Murthy Law Firm

    The Murthy Law Firm is the one of the largest law firms focusing exclusively in the area of U.S. immigration law (www.murthy.com). The Firm represents small and mid-sized companies, Fortune 500 companies, and individuals undergoing the U.S. immigration process. The lawyers and legal staff provide employers and employees with the latest guidance and the appropriate immigration strategies.
  • Christine M. Hernandez, Partner at Hernandez & Associates, P.C., was named a 2018 Top Latino Lawyer and also one of the Most Powerful Latinas in Law Business in 2018 by Latino Leaders Magazine. Christine began her Presidency of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association in January 2019.
  • On February 2nd, 39 Freshman Ventures teams from the University of Mississippi's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College convened at the Jackson Center to enjoy presentations about their trips throughout the U.S. to answer this year's question: What should we remember? Congratulations to the two winning teams of Freshman Ventures! Ava Cooper, Kaylee Goff, Amy Rhodes, and Kai Newman traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask, "What should we remember about legal immigration?" and where they interviewed Second Vice President Allen Orr. For more information, watch the finished project.
  • Murthy Law Firm Attorneys Recognized as 2019 Thought Leaders in Corporate Immigration

    Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders in Corporate Immigration for 2019 recently published the list of some of the world’s foremost immigration practitioners in corporate immigration law. The inaugural edition of Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders – Corporate Immigration for 2019 features those who are recognized as thought leaders across the nation and the world in U.S. corporate immigration law.

    There are only two attorneys recognized with this prestigious recognition / award in Maryland and both of the attorneys in Maryland are from the Murthy Law Firm. Kudos to the Murthy Law Firm for having both Sheela Murthy and Khorzad Mehta recognized from among peers across the nation for their thought leadership in corporate immigration.

    Through extensive interviews with the practitioners across the U.S. and in different regions, Thought Leaders – Corporate Immigration highlights giants in the field of corporate immigration. The lawyers are recognized not only to their in depth knowledge and experience guiding clients on sophisticated legal issues, but also for their ability to inspire, be creative, and care about their clients, going well beyond the confines of being just outstanding lawyers but strategic and outstanding leaders. Kudos to the Murthy Law Firm for this singular accomplishment.

  • The extended off Broadway run of The Courtroom features the story of Elizabeth Keathley, a Filipino immigrant with Chicago AILA member Richard Hanus as counsel, detailing Keathley's successful defense to removal proceedings, including the grant of a Petition for Review by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit. The play is presented in "site specific" locations and features verbatim transcripts of proceedings before the Immigration Court as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals. The cast includes Tony Award winners and nominees. It is the subject of a February 7, 2019, New York Times review and a final New York City presentation is scheduled for February 19, 2019. For more information see: http://www.thegreenespace.org/events/thegreenespace/2019/feb/19/micropolis-live-waterwells-courtroom/
  • Carolyn Lee, current Chair of AILA's EB-5 Committee, has kicked off 2019 with her own EB-5 practice! When asked what prompted the move, she replies: "I'm bullish on EB-5. This is the time to dig in and level up. I'm excited to do that with my clients and in my own practice." Carolyn has aeons of EB-5 experience and mounds of successful projects across America alongside thousands of investor cases. How can she achieve so much? When asked, she replies: "Sleep is for the weak." Learn more about Carolyn's new firm at https://carolynleepllc.com/. To write her with musings or concerns about EB-5, send her an e-mail at carolyn@carolynleepllc.com.
  • On January 15, 2019, Anu Nair of Klasko Immigration Law Partners was a panelist for the "Business After Hours" event and provided attendees an overview of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and spoke on the latest developments affecting the program. She also included an update on the impending visa backlog for Indian foreign nationals.
  • We wanted to share that Florida immigration attorneys and AILA members Neil Rambana and Elizabeth Ricci are being recognized with a major award. Their law firm, Rambana & Ricci, P.L.L.C., has been selected as an honoree on the 2019 Seminole 100 list, which highlights 100 of the fastest-growing U.S. businesses owned by Florida State University alumni.
  • Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., an immigration and nationality law firm, makes community service part of its mission every year. On an international level and through The Gabriel Project, NPZ helped to fund the building of a Health Care Center in the slums of Thane, near Mumbai, India. Every year during Thanksgiving week, lawyers David Nachman and Snehal Batra visit the slum to provide school supplies, medical supplies, and personal hygiene products.
  • In Separated at the Border, Diamond Herrera, a 24-year-old freelance journalist and Jason Taylor, an ex-Army Ranger and journalism professor team up to fight human trafficking and abuse at a privately-run immigrant youth detention facility in the Florida Everglades. Along the way, Di and Jason are forced to take on a Miami-based gang and a corrupt facility administrator while skirting the law and dodging a suspicious Broward County Sheriff's detective.

    Separated at the Border is an exceptional example of fast-paced, contemporary adult fiction that tells the story of a young woman's quest for professional and personal fulfillment while searching for a solution to the plight of incarcerated and abused immigrant children.

    Now available in trade paperback and ebook from all major booksellers, or directly from the publisher, MyakkaPress.com.

  • Butzel Long immigration law attorney Reginald A. Pacis has been appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as a Commissioner to the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC). Pacis is one of 12 people appointed to serve on the Commission. His term runs through November 30, 2022. The MAPAAC helps address the needs and concerns of the Asian Pacific American (APA) communities in Michigan.
  • National award-winning immigration attorneys Helen Tarokic and Alexandra Lozano have published a groundbreaking new book on the oft-misunderstood T Visa, currently designated for victims of human trafficking. In Ignite your Practice with the T Visa: Guide for Immigration Lawyers, the authors dispel common myths surrounding human trafficking and demonstrate how the underutilized T Visa can provide a legal, 'fast-track' solution to immigrant visa challenges.

    Ms. Tarokic is available for interviews and/or commentary.
  • BUFFALO, NY - Eileen M. Martin, a partner with Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, has been elected to the board of directors of World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara (WTCBN).

    Celebrating its 30th year, WTCBN, part of the World Trade Centers Association, assists companies in Western New York and Southern Ontario find success beyond their domestic markets.

    As co-leader of the immigration practice group at Lippes Mathias, Ms. Martin has more than 20 years of experience in immigration law assisting clients from around the world in various matters including work permits, employment-based immigration, port-of-entry issues, visa issuance, family-based immigration, immigrant and nonimmigrant waivers, and assessment of U.S. citizenship.

  • Blanca Zarazúa received the Ralph B. Atkinson Civil Liberties Award on Saturday, October 20, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the MIIS, Irvine Auditorium 499 Pierce St, Monterey. Secretary Leon Panetta, a former recipient of the award, introduced Ms. Zarazúa. Presented by the Monterey County Chapter of the ACLU of Northern California, the award honors Ms. Zarazúa for her work supporting immigrants and immigrant rights.
  • Raquel Hecht On November 1, 2018, Oregon AILA member Raquel Hecht was honored with the Gerald H. Robinson award for excellence in immigration advocacy. Raquel is pictured here with Senator Merkley of Oregon who also received an award for political advocacy on behalf of immigrants.

  • Cite as AILA Doc. No. 15071005.