Helping families stay together is Enrique Mesa's mission
"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.