Immigration lawyer and mentor, Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, adapts during COVID-19

By Ariana Arredondo, Photography by Olympia Roll

Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch Immigration Lawyer

A pleading mother with a five-month-old baby in a prison-issued onesie asked Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch a life-changing question.

The mother wanted Lincoln-Goldfinch, only a law student at the time, to sneak her baby out of the Hutto Immigration Detention Center until she and the father could leave.

“I couldn’t believe that this is the way that America was treating refugees,” Lincoln-Goldfinch says. “My eyes were really open… I never looked back after that.” 

While she couldn’t take the baby, she did represent the family and help them leave the center. Since then, Lincoln-Goldfinch has opened her own immigration law firm and because of the pandemic, is currently representing clients over video calls.

“Pre-pandemic {the clients} were under a significant amount of stress because of the administration’s policies against immigrants,”  she says. “And so we’ve sort of developed a culture internally of caring for our clients… that’s why I do what I do.”

And though safety is a top priority she said she does miss the connection that is formed with clients, especially during happy moments.

“We don’t get to shake hands and hug people when they finally get their green card like we used to, but we still celebrate,” she says. 

Besides professional challenges, Lincoln-Goldfinch says that COVID-19 has brought emotional hurdles as well. She says self-care and focusing on specific tasks helps her cope with living during the pandemic.

“I recognize if I’m feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed or stressed. And when I’m in that space, I don’t think about the future or next year or a vaccine or the election,” she says. “I just focus on the task in front of me at that moment.”

Lincoln-Goldfinch says one of her firm’s missions is to bring peace to immigrant families. One way she is able to do that is as Mayor Steve Adler’s appointee to the Commission on Immigrant Affairs. In this position, she makes recommendations to the city council on ways they can improve the lives of immigrants in Austin.

She is also a board member of an organization that mentors lawyers to take on immigration cases confidently called VECINA. Lincoln-Goldfinch says uplifting lawyers in this way is important to help them feel secure in an unfamiliar and complex field.

“It’s an overwhelming system, and there are lots of immigrants who are low-income and can’t afford legal services,” she says. “And so, it’s a question about access to justice for a significant part of our population.”

This is not only because of the ever-changing law but because the cases are so high stakes. She says the situation is at times ‘life or death.’

“I want to help people jump that hurdle and get to the point where they can take their first case and they have that same experience that I did when I was in law school and my life changed,” she says.


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