Arvin Amatorio is running for a council seat in Bergenfield

Arvin with his 7-year-old son Lance.

Arvin with his 7-year-old son Lance.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Fifteen years after Robert Rivas stepped down as mayor of Bergenfield, a young lawyer is making a bid for a council seat, counting on the support of the residents of “Little Manila” of Bergen County.

Immigration lawyer Arvin Amatorio will be running in tandem with politician Chris Tully as the Democratic candidates for the council. He will be the first Filipino American to aspire for the position to be decided in the upcoming November 4th council election.

Arvin is a long-time resident of Madison Avenue in Bergenfield, where he lives with his wife Ilya Evangelista, a nurse manager at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and their 7-year-old son Lance. He has a private law practice in New York City, representing clients nationwide, and also serves as Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Victor Sison.

“My candidacy is one of the ways of my giving back to the community,” he told The FilAm. “I like public service and I’ve always wanted to be engaged and involved.” Specifically, he believed he can be an effective voice of the immigrant community in the council.

Bergenfield is known as “Little Manila” because of its large FilAm community numbering about 4.5K or 17.1 percent of its population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Arvin immigrated to the United States in 2002. Prior to practicing lawyer, he worked as an adjunct professor in one of Manhattan’s private colleges. He continued to teach while learning the ropes of immigration law as an associate of the Vinluan Law Offices.

As a young lawyer, he received his baptism of fire, when he became involved in the defense of more than 20 Filipino nurses in the infamous Sentosa case.

“I was made to square off with then State Senator Michael Balboni,” he said. “But like steel that is tempered by fire, that encounter emboldened me to take on tough cases. Everything else seemed easy after that case.”

Arvin later joined the law firm of Prado and Tuy, LLP, where he mostly handled personal injury cases.

In 2007, he decided to go indie by opening his private practice in New York and concentrating on immigration. He took on removal cases, and applications for waiver for clients, some of them coming from other lawyers.

Among his cases are: (1 ) the grant of cancellation of removal to a Filipino who already had a final order of removal from the immigration court in California; (2) the grant of parole-in-place for the wife of a Filipino who served in the military. The wife was brought into the United States illegally, by her parents; (3) the grant of a waiver to a Macedonian woman, who was deported years earlier.

“She was allowed to reenter the United States, and continues to live happily with her family in New Jersey,” he said.

A busy lawyer but an even busier father, Arvin makes quality time for his son, taking Lance to swimming lessons, martial arts classes and other activities related to school and sports. “Family comes first” is an important personal ideology. In immigration practice, he makes sure that families stay together either through a waiver of removal proceedings or by their successful arrival in the U.S.

“The sense of fulfillment is beyond words if I am instrumental in re-uniting families,” he said.

One of his supporters, office worker Jujo Conol, tells The FilAm why Arvin would make a good councilmember: “Arvin is not only a nice and smart guy, but also an honest, go-getter, hardworking family man. He is passionate about the things he does, and takes pride in his work.”

With fellow candidate Chris Tully (left) and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker

With fellow candidate Chris Tully (left) and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker

One Comment

  1. There is no other guy I know who is more qualified than Arvin Amatorio for the Bergenfield Council.
    Teaming up with charismatic Councilman-at-large Christ Tully is a plus factor for the winning this
    coming local election at Bergenfield Borough on November 4. Thank you, Cristina Dc Pastor, for this
    timely article on candidate, Atty. Arvin Amatorio.

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