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Helping families stay together is Enrique Mesa's mission
Enrique F. Mesa Jr., 34Home: Nashua
Birthplace: Miami, Fla.
Family: This is the state where I met and married my attorney wife, Melissa Pensar-Mesa. My family includes my parents, Enrique and Ana Mesa, and my brother, David Mesa. My parents came to the U.S. after Fidel Castro's takeover of their home in Cuba.
High school: Westwood Christian School, Miami, Fla.
College/post-grad degrees: B.A., Florida International University, Miami; Juris Doctor, UNH School of Law, Concord
Current job: For the past four years, I've been an attorney with the immigration firm of LawServe in downtown Manchester. We represent an array of clients, from deportations, board hearings, permanent residency, naturalizations, family based petitions, waivers and employment-based petitions like H-1Bs. Being bilingual in English and Spanish is a big advantage.
Key past positions held: Before practicing immigration law, in 2005 I was a law clerk and then an attorney for an immigration firm in Miami, Fla, a melting pot of immigration activity. When my first year passed, I had already represented 80 clients through immigration court proceedings.
Volunteer activities: Since returning from Florida to New Hampshire, I have been involved first with the N.H. Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs as a member and for the past three years as its chair. Our purpose is to promote and advance equality for N.H.'s Latino population.
"Many Latinos and other immigrants are under the notion that notarios, not attorneys, are easier and equipped to handle the complexity of immigration," said Mesa. "Unfortunately, this is not true, and as a result, families can wind up being separated for years because of a deportation."
Helping families stay together is one of his missions, according to Mesa, who says it feels extra special when he helps to make that happen.
Mesa's family is from Cuba, although he was born in Miami, Fla. His parents, he said, came to the United States after Fidel Castro's takeover of their home in Cuba.
Keeping up with New Hampshire's changing demographics continues to be a challenge for the state, said Mesa, who is is a member and current chairman of the New Hampshire Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs.
"Our commission often hears complaints from Latinos that there are not enough nurses, doctors or teachers that are bilingual. As a commission, we seek to reach out to schools and hospitals to help them meet this challenge," he said.
According to Attorney George Bruno, Mesa has worked to create partnerships with state and local police departments to stamp out notions of racial profiling. Under Mesa's leadership, the commission has advanced the cause of education, civic duty and civil rights for the Latino community through workshops and seminars, said Bruno.
Representing hundreds of immigrant clients each year, Mesa has significant experience in deportation defense and family-related immigration law.
"Enrique is an invaluable asset to not only the Latino community of New Hampshire, but also the entire populace of the state," agreed Sanford Leavenworth, one of several people to nominate Mesa for the honor. "His volunteer efforts have had a positive impact and touched countless lives of those both within and from outside the Latino community."
Mesa helps to assist advocates build coalitions with both business and religious leaders to support immigration reform, according to Javier Londono, another nominator. "These coalitions will eventually be able to change politicians' votes in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform," said Londono.
Mesa has degrees from Florida International University and the former Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord.
As a first-generation Cuban-American, Mesa reflects on his family's journey to America, noting that his parents sacrificed the life they knew so that he and his brother would not grow up in a communist regime. Mesa, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, is the first person in his family to graduate from law school. He lives in Nashua with his wife, Ana Mesa, who is also an attorney.
Nominations for Class of 2015
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