HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Silvia Mintz came to America from Guatemala as a 23-year-old unable to speak English, but determined to support herself and her seven-year-old daughter.
"I was thinking I'll come here for a year and then I'll go back, and I was going to save some money and that was going to be it," Mintz said, "But it doesn't happen that way because once you get here you get used to the life here, you start building your own community and then it's very hard to go back ."
Mintz worked two maid jobs at corporate buildings, the first words she learned were "Windex" and "mop," until she became a nanny. Then children's books helped learn to read English. From those baby book, to Houston Community College, to St. Thomas, to law school --a remarkable climb. She graduated from law school the year before her daughter graduated from high school.
And it taught her daughter a life lesson.
"If you work hard and you are very disciplined, you can achieve anything and that can only happen here in America," Mintz said in tears.
But Mintz's journey from cleaning the washroom to commanding the courtroom hasn't just changed her family's life; she's using her experience to help others. She focuses on helping those who benefit from President Obama's executive immigration order, and campaigns for the Dream Act. Almost half of Mintz clients are pro-bono or reduced rate.
The Chavez family is from Honduras. They were one day away from being deported when Mintz took their case without pay and won their legal right to stay in America. About Honduras their daughter says, "It's a bad country, but Silvia helped a lot."
Not all immigrants want to remain in America, but Mintz wants to make sure her clients get the counsel they need to legally build their home and their life where they want.