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Demystifying Immigration

Raquel Hecht navigates the legal waters
Photo by Trask Bedortha
Photo by Trask Bedortha

Raquel Hecht laughs at the fact that she has not one but two full-time jobs. She’s an immigration attorney, has been practicing law for almost 21 years in Eugene and is a founding partner of Hecht & Norman LLP, a law firm with offices in Eugene, Salem, Medford and Bend. 

But more recently, Hecht has been focusing on the growth of Grupo Latino de Acción Directa (GLAD), a community gathering of Latino members and allies that is dedicated to mentorship and engagement. The group organizes educational forums and opportunities to learn about topics relevant to immigration, education, labor and the law. 

“Immigrants are important to us and contribute to our community,” she says. “People think it’s easy, but it’s incredibly difficult to immigrate.”

Beyond the obligatory legal information Hecht provides for her clients, she is a mentor. She encourages people with citizenship to be active by voting and often sees herself as a liaison amongst the community. She puts every person that comes to her office on the list for GLAD. 

“GLAD isn’t just about Latinos — it’s about integration of all members of the community,” she says. Her goal is to bring people together and listen to everyone’s ideas and perspectives. GLAD is organizing with UO professor Bob Bussel, an expert on labor, to hold a forum about labor for immigrants and how that coincides with education. The event will be 8:30 am to 4 pm Saturday, May 17, at Springfield High School, 875 7th St.

Hecht grew up in a multicultural environment (her first language is Portuguese and she now speaks seven others) and has lived around the world, but she never wanted to be a lawyer. When she was working on her master’s in Latin American Studies, she met her husband and decided to transfer to law school to get her degree. She was one of the first Spanish-speaking lawyers in Eugene and is now nationally recognized for her knowledge about immigration waivers. In the past, Hecht has been featured on call-in radio shows and is part of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She admires the work of Nancy Golden, Oregon’s chief education officer, for organizing people within a community.