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Pleasantville Village Trustee Opens New Law Office to Assist Immigrants

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Pleasantville village Trustee W. Paul Alvarez and his wife, Katie, cut the ribbon in front of his new law office at last Friday’s celebration on Manville Road in Pleasantville. Alvarez is an immigration attorney helping families, who are like his own a few decades earlier, navigate the legal process involving asylum requests, visas and naturalization applications.

A large, jubilant contingent turned out to celebrate the grand opening of attorney W. Paul Alvarez’s new law office last Friday afternoon in Pleasantville.

The sun came out to the relief of about 60 people who attended the chilly ceremonial ribbon cutting and to honor Alvarez and his family who stood in front of his new office on Manville Road.

“It’s a blessing to be here,” Alvarez said after cutting the large green ribbon. “So many people had a part in helping me.”

Alvarez, a member of the Pleasantville Village Board, recounted his long journey from Ecuador, how his family began the long process to immigrate to the United States and how he arrived here as an eight-year-old in 1989.

“I’m dedicating this event to my parents and to all parents who sacrifice everything to give their kids the best chance to succeed,” he said.

By his side were his parents, Maritza and Guillermo Alvarez, his sister, Michelle, wife Katie and his two children, Brendan, 5, and Madison, 3. Alvarez’s parents arrived in Pleasantville and started a successful cleaning service, which continues to operate.

“My parents pushed me,” Alvarez told the group. “I was okay to take over my father’s business but my father wasn’t. I guess he won.”

“This is a big day for us,” said Katie Alvarez, who grew up in White Plains and met Paul in college. “He’s helped so many families get asylum and green cards. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

In deference to the many Latinos at the ceremony, Alvarez gave his remarks in English and Spanish. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer and Westchester County Legislator Margaret Cunzio (C-Mount Pleasant), who presented Alvarez with a certificate of appreciation from the Board of Legislators. Also on hand was Shari Ascher, Westchester County’s director of policy and programs for small business and chambers of commerce, who gave Alvarez a proclamation from County Executive George Latimer recognizing him as “an outstanding attorney, leader and citizen worthy of the highest praise.”

Alvarez has long counseled immigrants who have sought asylum and helped to obtain visas and naturalization applications, among other legal steps, required by immigrants.

“This is my dream come true,” said Alvarez’s father, Guillermo. “Thank God I can see that he has his own firm. Paul was illegal when he came to this country and he knows what that’s like. I pushed him when he was in college and pushed him to finish law school so he didn’t have to work with me. And by the way, the ‘W’ in his name stands for Washington.”

Alvarez worked at his parents’ cleaning service as a manager and bookkeeper after he graduated SUNY Oneonta where he was a political science and Spanish major. He worked as a paralegal for local immigration attorney Julie Mullaney and attended Pace Law School where as a student he worked for the school’s Criminal Justice Clinic and the Pace Immigration Justice Clinic.

Praising Alvarez was Pace law professor Vanessa Merton who said she admired him for his professionalism, compassion and leadership.

Alvarez’s uncle, George Yanez, remembered his nephew teaching him English as an elementary school student.

“I was an immigrant trying to get citizenship and he helped me, he helped so many people,” Yanez said.

Among the friends and relatives at the ribbon-cutting last week was Alvarez’s friend Carlos Vallejo and his cousin Bryan Vallejo.

“I’m proud of him and his hard work. It’s very inspiring,” Bryan Vallejo said. 

Scherer added his appreciation for the entire family.

“It was a really lucky day for this community when the Alvarez family found their way to Pleasantville, New York,” Scherer said. “And every single year they have been here, everyone knows if you want something done right and intelligently, get an Alvarez on the job.”

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