Prominent Jamaican-born immigration attorney Winston Tucker continues to make a huge impact on the Caribbean community in New York.
The Jamaica, Queens-based Tucker told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview over the weekend, that he has established “a very satisfying immigration law practice” that he integrates with caring for his family, engaging in community service, teaching and media appearances.
Tucker, who considers himself a family and community immigration lawyer, has incorporated his immigration law practice with the ambitious agenda of the Queens-based Caribbean Immigrants Services, Inc. (CIS), which he co-founded with his compatriot, Irwine Clare, Sr. “to bridge the void created by the reduction in government services to the immigrant community in general and the Caribbean Community in particular.”
Tucker said his philosophy, shared by CIS, is that “the strength and effective function of family, businesses, communities and nation are interrelated, and closely correlate to their level of participation in the democratic process.
“As such, the focus continues to be services to the community that will impact their level of participation in their governance, improve their economic circumstances, leading to economic and political empowerment,” he said.
He added that this philosophy continues to be relevant “because of the emerging and converging situations that remind the advocates among us that the attacks on immigration/migrant population, those searching for opportunities and socio-economic security, are not over.
“We are reminded that people will continue to gravitate to geographic areas that hold the promise for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Tucker said. “They will move to areas that afford them the chance to recover from failed international and local policies, and experiments.
“Immigration, therefore, is the responsibility of host and home governments,” he posited. “Both must be lobbied.”
Tucker said his community advocacy is realized primarily through CIS and its “one-stop-shop empowerment center” concept.
“This concept — that is taken into the community at home and abroad, through a network of churches, community service organizations, clubs and media — is an example of community empowerment through collective action,” he said.
“This advocacy that pushes legalizing the undocumented and naturalizing legal permanent residents, in a world where government downsizing and/or re-engineering is placing emphasis on private enterprise and self-reliance, makes the community outreach efforts of Winston Tucker and The Caribbean Immigrants Services, Inc. an important and necessary catalyst for our community and full participation in the democratic process in the coming years,” said Tucker, who received his Juris Doctor (JD), law, degree from Brooklyn Law School.
He takes pride in stating that he is “a product of Seaward Primary School, Jamaica College in Jamaica, West Indies.”
Tucker also holds a Bachelor of Science from Baruch College, and a Master of Business Administration from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens.
Clare, who serves as CIS’ managing director, told Caribbean Life that he and Tucker, in 1995, formed CIS as “a community-based organization dedicated to the empowerment of the Caribbean community through acquiring US citizenship, registering to vote and voting!”
Through a series of community outreach, from as far as New England States to Florida, “we organized churches, civil groups and professional groups to become involved,” he said.
With “a large cache of volunteers, coupled with a strong presence on radio WLIB being the anchor, the message was delivered far and wide,” Clare said, adding that “our journalists were very instrumental in getting the word out in raising the awareness and participation.”
At the time, Clare, recipient of the Order of Distinction (OD) from the Jamaica Government, said CIS worked closely with the Caribbean Consulate Corps “that gave us access to their respective CBOs (community-based organizations), churches, student organizations, et al.”
He said hundreds of citizenship drives and awareness forums were accomplished, adding that these were “always coupled with updates on the changes in the immigration law and its impact on society.”
Clare said CIS’ relationship back then extended to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as CIS was the first to have naturalization interviews and swearings-in being done in the Caribbean community.
“Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn was the church to have such a functionality,” Clare said. “As a result of our endeavors, it helped to change the political landscape and attitude towards Caribbean community voting.”
Subsequently, he said Caribbean candidates began emerging in seeking elective offices.
In addition, Clare said CIS extended its mission by launching a series of immigration forums into the Caribbean “to inform, educate and with hope of influencing CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to have a standing Committee on Immigration.”
He said CIS never accepted any public funding, stating that the organization was established as a for-profit entity, providing community-oriented services to the Caribbean community.
“Whereas we are not as vocal and aggressive on scene as then, we still continue to deliver services of immigration processing, outreach to varying groups and counseling and advocacy,” Clare said. “It’s refreshing to see many of our own Caribbean attorneys involved in providing immigration services. There are some who do so more than just as a career.
“We are pleased that several thousand nationals are now citizens and making significant impact on their respective communities,” he added.
As for CIS’ future, Clare and Tucker said they we will continue to remain relevant with the issues germane to the Caribbean community, “as we work towards building a political block.
“The community is more economically empowered,” they said, lamenting, however, that “we are still relatively week politically, as we have not fully leveraged our presence.
“The Census 2020 will be a critical juncture for us, if we are to truly maximize on our investment,” they asserted.