Elizabeth M. Trinidad opened her Law Office in April 2001. The practice represents predominantly working class, mostly Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants. We do have clients from all walks of life and numerous other countries. LGBT clients are naturally welcome at the office. Everyone at the office speaks, reads, and writes Spanish and English. Elizabeth likes to handle her cases with dogged attention to detail. She prefers a thorough, investigatory, and holistic approach to client representation. Cases are handled either on a flat fee basis or, increasingly, on an hourly basis for complex cases and/or for clients in removal proceedings.
Elizabeth is a member of AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association. AILA is a nationwide organization of over 15,000 attorneys. By contrast, Elizabeth is one of only 2 to 4 (depending on how one counts) immigration attorneys in Cumberland County. Two neighboring counties –Salem and Cape May counties– have no immigration attorneys. Elizabeth works in an under-served area. She travels for continuing legal education (“CLE”) and has received training in Texas, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Las Vegas, and New York. More recently, Elizabeth has begun providing CLE training to other lawyers. She maintains close relationships with her immigration colleagues and with other attorneys. Elizabeth is a member of ACMDAA, an informal but active group of 150+ municipal court defense attorneys.
Types of immigration cases: U-Visa. Elizabeth used to take U Visa cases, handling them since 2004. They used to be Elizabeth’s favorites because U visa laws provide a long-term path to citizenship for inadmissible Victims of Crime, and many grounds of inadmissibility can be waived. Elizabeth no longer accepts new U visa cases. Her mood is too depressed by what is now an agonizingly long path to U status (about 15 years). Still handling the following types of new cases…. Adjustment of Status (applications under Sections 245(i) and 245(m). Immigrant Visa & Waiver cases. Family-Based Immigration in general, incl. same-sex marriages. Removals of Condition I-751 Cases (especially after unrepresented individuals have gotten stuck). Special Immigrant Juvenile cases. Naturalizations for those with tricky histories. Defense against Removal (EOIR-42B). Elizabeth appears before the Immigration Courts of Newark and Philadelphia. She also files complex, out-of-time Motions to Reopen. Elizabeth is sensitive to –but not an expert in; for that, she refers her clients to others!– the ever-changing landscape re. immigration consequences that often follow criminal convictions.
Municipal Court cases in New Jersey: Unlicensed Driver cases are close to Elizabeth’s heart. She also handles No Insurance, Suspended Driver, as well as quasi-criminal (so-called “disorderly persons offense”) cases within in New Jersey’s municipal court system. Those cases can affect a client’s immigration status and/or immigration future, not to mention the client’s permanent driving record. In 2014, she won a published case in the New Jersey Appellate Division that interprets the unlicensed driver statute, State v. Armando Carreon.
Documentation Issues: Elizabeth helps clients deal with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in connection with driver suspensions and restorations, including post-DUI interlock issues. Finally, Elizabeth routinely assists her clients with problems related to foreign birth records or with rectifying their U.S. Citizen children’s birth certificates. She helps clients legally obtain identity documents, such as passports and consular ID cards. Since 2014, Elizabeth has been on AILA’s Liaison Committee re. the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission.
Education & Professional Licenses
From 1990 to 1993, Elizabeth M. Trinidad attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree magna cum laude in Linguistics, with minors in African Studies and in Folklore & Folklife Studies. From 1995 to 1998, Elizabeth attended Temple University School of Law where she received a J.D. (regular law degree). As a law student, Elizabeth studied international & human rights law. She was licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey in 2000 and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 2006. Elizabeth has occasionally handled immigration cases before the Third Circuit. Those cases are extremely high-stakes but can be very gratifying.
Legal Background & Other Work History
Elizabeth gained experience at Legal Services offices in Philadelphia and Bridgeton. She also worked for two fine general practice attorneys in Private Practice in Camden and Philadelphia. During college and law school, Elizabeth was an intern at the Womens Law Project and AIDS Law Project in Philadelphia. She was introduced to Immigration Law in 1994, when she worked for, and was trained by, an attorney who later became an Immigration Judge. From 2005 to 2006, Elizabeth served as a Substitute & Conflicts Public Defender for the Bridgeton Municipal Court. From 2009 to 2010, she provided training to the Cumberland County Public Defender’s Office about immigration law basics. Relevant non-legal work history includes pizza delivery driver, transcriber, editor, cleaning lady, fine arts model & literacy tutor. Since the Spring of 2001, Elizabeth has devoted herself to helping her clients, many of whom are incredibly brave and heroic. Together with her spouse and excellent staff, this work has involved countless hours at the office, on the road, and in court. She tries to help clients who may otherwise have no legal representation but must charge enough to support herself financially (2018: student loans have finally been paid off but still no health insurance).
Travel, Languages, Personal
Elizabeth was raised in West Germany. She speaks, reads, and writes Spanish, German, and French. (The French is a bit rusty.) In her past, she studied Russian, Yoruba, and Hausa. During college and law school, Elizabeth studied abroad in Nigeria and South Africa. She has been to Venezuela, Spain, Italy, Poland, France, plus the former USSR and East Germany (GDR). In order to protect clients’ legal interests, Elizabeth has traveled to Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, various parts of Mexico, and onto a remote mountain in Guatemala. From 1987 to 1990, Elizabeth attended the Freie Kunstschule Hamburg, a free university of the arts based in Hamburg, Germany founded by two master students of the late Joseph Beuys. In her personal life, Elizabeth has been an I-130 petitioner. In addition, she has lived through the ordeal of her husband seeking non-LPR cancellation of removal while in removal proceedings. Elizabeth lives with that spouse, their child, and a senior citizen cat.