With the Cueva Law Firm, (L–R) Susana Maldonado, Isabel Cueva, Sage the office dog, Alexandra Johnson and Caroline Ramos work to provide the immigration-law landscape with a much-needed dose of empathy and understanding.

Cueva Law Firm: A Story of Success

Activism, Outreach and Education

For Isabel Cueva, practicing immigration law is personal. Cueva’s father came to America when he was 16 years old and obtained residency, but many obstacles prevented the rest of his family from following. When she was 8, her parents made a life-changing decision: Her family would cross the border illegally. Of this experience, Cueva says, “I kept telling my mom, ‘But we have passports! Why do we need to hide?’” As Cueva learned more about her family’s situation and immigration at large, she began to understand her mother’s position more clearly. Today, Cueva is a successful founder of her own immigration law practice in her now–home state of Utah, the Cueva Law Firm. But it took overcoming unimaginable trials, a neverending oasis of hard work and a whole lot of perseverance for Cueva to become the successful woman she is today.

As soon as Cueva and her family safely reconciled in America, her father submitted the paperwork that would recognize Isabel Cueva as an American citizen. Yet it wasn’t until six years later, when Cueva was 14 years old, that her paperwork would be finally approved. She recollects how the tumultuous pathway to citizenship wore on her parents and the many hardships they faced as they fought for freedom and acceptance in their new home. Cueva makes special note of an immigration lawyer from Utah County who took advantage of her family and the little savings they had, leading to a devastating financial and emotional aftermath.

“I knew I wanted to be the type of person little girls could look up to and remember in a positive way.”

Fortunately, a newly licensed attorney who lived next door guided the Cueva family through the complex labyrinth of immigration law and helped them recover. After seeing the impact this attorney had on herself and her family, Cueva decided to model her practice after his: She dedicated her life to keeping families together just like he had done for hers. Cueva says of this goal, “I knew I wanted to be the type of person little girls could look up to and remember in a positive way. That attorney changed my family’s lives forever, and I know I have done the same.”

After Cueva graduated high school, she attended the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, where she interviewed for Judge William L. Nixon at the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Cueva spent most of her time writing bench briefs, where she discovered the critical impact attorneys have on immigrants’ lives. “Some attorneys would go into hearings completely unprepared, which resulted in people getting deported [and in] families being torn apart,” she says. “Witnessing this broke my heart. I can still hear the screams and sobs of a little girl who attended her father’s final court hearing who was ordered deported.”

This experience marks when Cueva decided she would devote herself fully to her cases, never failing to do everything she can to save a family. When Cueva graduated from law school, she was offered a position in Seattle, Washington, where she handled deportation cases and prepared detained clients for their court hearings. She stayed in Washington until a national law firm in California recruited her to start its immigration division. Of this life-changing experience, Cueva says, “I built that from the ground up and realized I could branch [out] on my own. This is when I started the Law Office of Isabel Cueva.”

“I will always tell my clients the truth. I arm them with knowledge so that they can make an informed decision that is best for them and their family.”

Cueva Law’s mission is simple: “We help keep families together,” Cueva says. “We offer honest advice. I don’t sugarcoat anything. I will always tell my clients the truth. I arm them with knowledge so that they can make an informed decision that is best for them and their family.” And that is exactly what she has done. Cueva Law Firm focuses on family-based immigration, meaning that they assist spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens in petitioning for their relatives to remain in the United States. They have also helped DACA applicants, crime victims wanting to apply for visas and abused spouses of U.S. citizens with self-petitions. On top of her own relentlessness, Cueva notes that she couldn’t succeed the way she does without her hardworking team, who she claims are “three of the greatest paralegals of all time”: Alexandra Johnson, Caroline Ramos and Susana Maldonado. And despite the demanding tasks of their day-to-day lives, they don’t forget to put their feet up, play a little and marvel at the incredible work they have accomplished.

Cueva Law Firm has kept countless families together, from the two sisters from Central America, who were scheduled to be deported before Christmas to the little boy that called Cueva looking for help because his mom had died and his dad had been picked up for deportation. There have even been times when the family Cueva kept together was her own, as when she was able to help her aunt, uncle and sister obtain their residencies after living in America and meeting with various immigration lawyers over multiple years.

The work Cueva Law Firm does is at once tumultuous, exhausting and rewarding. Summing it up, Cueva says, “It is emotionally draining. It is demanding. We have to be on task every minute of every day. But when you know you are truly making a difference in the lives of others for generations to come, it makes your work have value.” Find more information at cuevalawfirm.com.