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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

FAREWELL, STEVE

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Stevefischel
The immigration bar lost one of its legends today. Steve Fischel, an immigration lawyer who spent most of his career in senior positions at the State Department, died here in Vancouver where nearly 3,000 of his fellow lawyers and many of his best friends were attending the annual meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting.



Steve's distinguished career is described in his bio on his web site. Most people remember Steve as someone who always put the interests of the American people first, but also a person who had genuine compassion and one who even the most junior immigration lawyers were not afraid to approach since he was always willing to listen to our concerns. When he decided after more than three decades at the State Department to join the ranks of the immigration bar, he was welcomed with open arms.



Friends of Steve will remember him as a gregarious, humorous man who loved people (and his Washington Capitols hockey team). I was fortunate to get to know Steve in the last year and count myself in the ranks of those who are devastated by his loss. He will be fondly remembered. Rest in peace, Steve.

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  1. Elaine Witty's Avatar
    Steve Fischel was a mensch. As a government official and private practice attorney, Steve exemplified the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. His dedication to immigrants and the law will be sorely missed. Condolences to his family and friends.
  2. INDRA GANDHI's Avatar
    Steve Fischel was soft spoken, humane and brilliant.

    I have had the pleasure of meeting him many times during AILA conferences and knowing his views on several aspects of the immigration law and advisory opinions function of the Visa Office. He was never too busy to listen to you and give you his honest opinion. He was so humorous.

    He promised to visit with me in Woodland Hills, California during one of his trips to Santa Barbara. Alas, this will remain an unfulfilled wish of mine!

    He will be deeply missed. My condolences to his family and prayers to Almighty for eternal peace of this noble, departed soul.

    INDRA GANDHI
  3. Aetna Thompson's Avatar
    Farewell to a wonderful man and lawyer. Peace and strength to his family. Steve will be sorely missed.
  4. Gloria Law's Avatar
    In my years as an adviser for international visitors to UC Berkeley Steve was a true friend to international education. As visa chief he was always there, accessible, funny, practical and most importantly, helpful and caring. He held a critical place in helping in the exchange of good will between countries because of his integrity and commitment to what was right. I will miss him. Please send my condolences to his family.
  5. Guyle Cavin's Avatar
    Steve Fischel was a great mentor of the law for any consular officer smart enough to listen and thoughtful enough to understand what Steve so softly wrapped in his laid back style. I always hoped to have him around longer to continue his thankless and ever-lengthening task of making me a better consul. Many are the consular officers who feel like orphans on hearing this news.
  6. Virginia Conant's Avatar
    Thank you so much for your kind words about my cousin Stephen, I knew that he was brillant, wise, kind and compassionate. He was one of my best friends. As we grieve his loss together thank you for sharing your thoughts, it is very comforting.
  7. USC's Avatar
    "I always hoped to have him around longer to continue his thankless and ever-lengthening task of making me a better consul."

    I had never heard of Steve till Greg made this blog entry. It appears that Steve was what every public official ought to strive to be. I am sure he would heartened to learn of your comments. I am "thankful" that there are public officials like Steve and yourself.

    "Thank you so much for your kind words about my cousin Stephen"

    Please see above and I offer my condolences to you and other members of his family.
  8. Karen Caco's Avatar
    We all had fingers and toes crossed that Steve would pull through. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Steve in DC last summer and he was always available to lend a helping hand to me and our various EB5 projects. Condolences to his family and all the friends and colleagues who had the pleasure of knowing him. He will be sorely missed.
  9. brian hunt's Avatar
    Steve had so much energy, passion and love for his work and the people around him, it made him a natural role model and teacher. From NAFTA to the half-beer, I look back and realize how much I learned from him and how much I'll miss him.
  10. Marlene Collins's Avatar
    The "Coach" as I was privileged to call him, was apart of our family since I can remember. It will be difficult to imagine our remaining days without him. Ski season will not be the same...
    My prayers go out to his family and friends.
  11. Bill Yates's Avatar
    Steve Fischel was that rare person whose adherence to values, whose integrity and respect for the dignity of each human being, was steadfast regardless of political storms. He was brilliant, he was kind, and he had a wonderful sense of humor. I grieve for the loss of my dear friend.
  12. Anne Harrison's Avatar
    Steve was a great mentor and also a great person. When I first met him back in Washington DC in 1998, just two years out of law school for me, he took the time on several occasions to speak with me at length about my thorny cases and to give me advice on how to best assist my clients. He encouraged thoughtful conversations on the law and on life, and also had a wonderful sense of humor. Even though there are thousands of AILA members and I had moved to California in 2000, he still remembered me when we saw each other at conferences and he always took the time to catch up. He was one of people who truly made AILA a family for me, and he will be deeply missed.
  13. Louise Berman's Avatar
    How sorry I am to hear that my relative Stephen Fischel died. His family was quite close to mine, and I recall mny wonderful times with his mother and father when they lived in the Wasington area. Both Stephen and his father Kurt were true world citizens, helping persons of a variety of religious and national persuasions feel of worth. Stephen had so many interests, but I always thought his major concern was making the world a better place because of his presence. His wit, compassion, language and being will be long remembered by many. My concolences to his brother David and hiis family and to his dear friend, Mary Ellen.

    Louise Berman
  14. Ramon Carrion's Avatar
    Steve was a wonderful human being who coincidentally was a brilliant and compassionate lawyer. During the time I knew him when he was State Department official I regarded him as a friend and felt honored to share with him mutual reflections on topics ranging from the sublime to the silly. I will miss his ever present smile and am sorry I will never get to reciprocate the kindness he showed me. I also extend my sincerest sympathies to his loving companion Mary Ellen.

    Your friend, Ramon
  15. Ramon Carrion's Avatar
    Steve was a wonderful human being who coincidentally was a brilliant and compassionate lawyer. During the time I knew him when he was State Department official I regarded him as a friend and felt honored to share with him mutual reflections on topics ranging from the sublime to the silly. I will miss his ever present smile and am sorry I will never get to reciprocate the kindness he showed me. I also extend my sincerest sympathies to his loving companion Mary Ellen.

    Ramon
  16. Theresa Brown's Avatar
    As many others have said, Steve was one of the people who epitomized the best of public service. Working for much of his career on an issue that was inevitably highly politicized, he managed to hold steadfast to his integrity, and always strove to find the right answer for public policy, regardless of the politics of the day. He was open and honest about the good and bad of the government, and he was one of the examples I hoped to follow as I entered government service after spending the first part of my career in the private sector. To his family and friends, please know that your loved one was loved as well by his professional colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
  17. Kathy Kazalonis's Avatar
    I worked with Steve for over 30 years. When I worked for the Passport Office, there he was in the Foreign Operations Division always ready with advice and assistance. When I transferred to the Visa Office in 1977, there he was, again, teaching us by passing on his wealth of knowledge about immigration law and procedures. When I started working for legacy/INS, I once again found myself on the receiving end of Steve's kindnesses and assistance. It did not matter that I was now in another "house." Steve was always there for me, ready and more than willing to anwer questions and give advice.

    He retired the year before I did and I had withdrawal symptoms. I worried how I would get by without his expertise and knowledge. But, he taught me well and it stood me in good stead until I, too, retired the following year.

    It was always a comfort to know that he would still be close in his positions as an officer of the State Department Federal Credit Union, of which I am a member even now.

    His sense of humor and generous nature will be remembered long after his other wonderful attributes.
  18. Judy Culhane (Lyman)'s Avatar
    I would like to talk about Fish the Bartender and the man with a great wit. I met him when he came to the Visa Office in 1975. I was in Personnel so we immediately put him in charge of the bar for all office parties along with his office mate,
    Bob Chiperfield, hence the name of the team of Fish and Chips.
    After my retirement, I would come back to the Visa Office parties for many years and the team of Fish and Chips was still
    in place.
    My daughter got married in 1995 and Fish was the first person
    interviewed on the wedding video as he walked into the church.
    He said that he was a friend of the mother of the bride and
    asked where I was. Then he asked if happy hour was over yet,
    and if it was, then I would probably be showing up at any
    time.
    I will really miss him.
    Judy Lyman Culhane or as Fish called me "Lyman"
  19. Ron Acker's Avatar
    I was privileged to work and play with and for Fishie for close to thirty years. He called his staff his "family" and he lovingly nurtured, protected, and educated us. Stevie was all about sacrifice; he was always in the fox hole and he was always the first to charge the machine gun nest. He was brilliant and could rewrite entire regulatory authorities virtually overnight and get them to the field the next day.

    Stevie was also a visionary. He always wanted to move towards the new, always wanted to embrace new approaches and new technologies in order to improve lines of communication and provide our consular corps in the field with better, concise and accurate policy and procedure. His vision made him open to new ideas and fresh approaches and that brought respect, admiration and loyalty.

    I can truly say that working and playing with Fishie for so many years was an honor and a rare thing; and I am so grateful to have known and loved him. My wife, Susan, and I extend our condolences to all of Stevie's family and friends; we have lost a great man and a great friend.
  20. Linda Carson's Avatar
    I didn't know Steve as a lawyer or a public servant or an immigration expert - I knew him as Hockey Steve, a truly decent human being and great friend. My deepest condolences to his family.
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