Mary Meg McCarthy

The Statue of Liberty

Every Immigrant’s Dream of a Better Life

It has been said time and time again that we are a nation of immigrants. Most arrived on our shores freely, while many others came against their will.

Who would have thought that the issue of immigration would ever become so political, as it has become recently? We might be getting tired of all the rhetoric, the posturing, and the politics. It is easy to turn a deaf ear to the issue today.

Yet beneath that rhetoric, posturing and politics are the lives, the pain, the suffering and the hope of so many people who carry the dream found in the Statue of Lady Liberty and in the DNA passed on to us.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on through the eyes of a key person whose life’s work is immigration. Since her years working in Chile during the Pinochet regimen, Mary Meg McCarthy has dedicated her career to protecting and promoting access to justice for men, women, and children regardless of their legal status. Ms. McCarthy is now in her 20th year leading the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), one of the nation’s pre-eminent immigrant rights organizations.

Ms. McCarthy received her J.D. degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and her B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. An expert in immigration law, Ms. McCarthy has testified before Congress and is often quoted in major news outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Ms. McCarthy is the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration. Several organizations have recognized Ms. McCarthy’s expertise and commitment to serving the immigrant and refugee community through awards such as: the American Constitution Society Chicago Lawyer Chapter Ruth Goldman Award, the Elmer Gertz Award for Human Rights from the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Inn of Court 2015 Don Hubert Public Service Award, the Pax Christi 2013 Teacher of Peace Award, and the Damen Award from Loyola University. In June 2018, she received an honorary degree in law from Knox College (Galesburg, IL).