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Mercedes Badia -Tavas

 

I am of counsel in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, where I practice immigration and naturalization law and regularly counsel Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and individuals. The focus comes naturally to me, as I was a child when my family came to the U.S. from Cuba.

As a member of the firm’s Immigration and Global Mobility Services Practice Group within the Labor and Employment Law Department, I work with clients on the employment of foreign nationals, the permanent residency process, and immigration compliance issues. Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, I owned my own legal practice, Badia-Tavas Law Group, Ltd. from 2003 to 2013.

I am an immigrant from Cuba who left my birth country as a child with my parents, who had the courage to leave an authoritarian regime for the promised freedom and prosperity of the U.S. I thank them every day for their courage, resilience and love of family. So, my practice and commitment to immigration issues is very personal.

The contributions of all immigrants are the foundation of this country; a collective contribution that forms our values, institutions and commitment to a form of government that continues to evolve as a democracy with justice intended for all.  It is my hope that through interaction and engagement with each other, we will one day thrive as a historically diverse, tolerant and prosperous nation.

Throughout my career, I have represented U.S. corporations and foreign individuals in the U.S. and abroad with employment visas and in the permanent residency process. Since 2016, I have been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for my work in immigration law.

I am a member of the American Bar Association, while also being the chair and president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Chicago Chapter (AILA) – a 700-plus professional association of U.S. immigration law practitioners in the Chicago metro area. AILA nationally has a membership of over 14,000. This dual role requires me to be active in congressional advocacy and government liaison functions, as well as to serve the immigrant community with social justice causes.

Being active in the community is important to me. Recently, I helped to recruit volunteer attorneys for the ABA-Univision Immigration Phone Bank project by circulating the request for volunteers from AILA Chicago members.

Prior to this project, I participated on the Univision Chicago weekly legal news segment, “Conozca Sus Derechos”, a project with the ABA Hispanic Commission that educates the Spanish-speaking community about legal rights.  I was able to inform the public on notario fraud in the immigration law context. I understand the importance of these projects and the important role that lawyers play in projecting the civil rights of all people.

I earned my J.D. from Tulane Law School in 1993, and in 1986 earned my B.A. from Agnes Scott College, where I was an economics and Spanish major. I am fluent in Spanish and conversational in French, and have traveled and lived throughout Latin America.

 

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