September 22, 2016

Senator Warren Celebrates Career of Immigration Specialist Emily Winterson

Winterson Retiring After More Than 32 Years of Dedicated Service to the People of Massachusetts

Washington, DC - Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered remarks on the Senate floor to mark the retirement of Emily Winterson, an Immigration Specialist for more than 32 years in the Boston Senate offices of Senators Edward Kennedy, Paul Kirk, Scott Brown, and Warren.

The text of Senator Warren's remarks is below, and video is available here.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
September 22, 2016

Today I rise to celebrate the retirement of Emily Winterson, an Immigration Specialist in my Boston office, who has served the people of Massachusetts and the United States Senate for over thirty-two years.

Emily began working in the Senate on March 7, 1984 and has worked for four consecutive Massachusetts senators since then. First, Emily worked in the office of Senator Ted Kennedy for over twenty years. When Senator Kennedy passed, she stayed on to work for Senator Paul Kirk, then Senator Scott Brown, and now has been on my team in the Boston since I was sworn in.
As my colleagues know well, there are two parts to a Senate office. The side the nation hears about more often that is in the news is the legislative work we do right here in Washington. But there is an equally important side to our work, and that is the help that we provide back home. We would not be able to offer this critical help without devoted people like Emily Winterson. Emily has committed herself entirely to this work, which has touched the lives of countless families across the state of Massachusetts. With her years of expertise and her relentless determination, she has helped people navigate our complex immigration system, and she does it all with exceptional humility and grace.

When someone has a last-minute passport problem and may not be able to make the trip with the group from the Temple or the church, Emily has been the one to cut through the red tape. When a student needs a visa to be able to attend one of our great universities, Emily is there. When extraordinary musicians and performers from around the world have needed help getting into this country, Emily was there. When families needed her most, when foreign adoptions were tangled up and families were divided or stranded, Emily was there. When sick children needed to get medical care at world-class hospitals in Boston and around our state, Emily was there. No matter the issue, Emily always knew the right people to call to get results in government offices here both here and abroad - and they all knew Emily.

There are too many stories to count. But I want to tell just one. A young woman came from China to the United States to study medicine at Boston University. And while she here, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She had no family in America, and she desperately needed help getting a visa for her sister to come to the U.S. to help take care of her. As have so many others, she reached out to Emily for help.

Emily was able to get the visa for her sister to come and to support her through a long and very difficult treatment. But the story doesn't stop there. Without any form of financial support, and unable to work, the young woman faced eviction. Together with the help of Catholic Charities, Emily helped secure funds needed to help her get caught up on her rent.

During all of this, the young woman's student visa expired, which left her ineligible for health care. Once again, Emily got to work and was able to obtain deferred action on her visa. Emily even helped her find an apartment near the hospital when she was being treated, and, in her usual do-more-than-anyone-could expect way, Emily even helped her furnish the place.

Still, the young woman's health worsened. As she was nearing her final days, her last wish was to see her mother, whom she had not seen for twelve years during her studies. Again, Emily concentrated all of her effort on securing an expedited visa for her mother so she could be with her before she passed. And because of Emily's tireless work, this young woman, far from home, spent her final days with the support and care of her mother and her sister.

Emily was there for her through thick and thin. When this young woman needed help and had no one to turn to, Emily was there. With steadfast commitment, Emily fought for her.

This is just one of many stories that together form the fabric of Emily's life work. In a time when many Americans feel that government is not working for them, in a system that too often overlooks those most in need, Emily is a shining example of the power of public service. She embodies the link between government and the people. She has dedicated her working life to making government fulfill its most fundamental mission: improving the lives of the people it serves.

Emily Winterson has shown us all that when we take time to listen to someone's story, when we have the compassion to care about their troubles, and the determination to fight on their behalf, we have the power to improve each other's lives. This is government by the people and for the people. Emily is American at its best. And this is the legacy Emily leaves behind.

We will all miss her greatly, and although we are sad to see Emily leave, we could not be happier for her as she begins her much-earned retirement in October. I know she is looking forward to gardening, to working on her memoirs, and to spending more time with her children and her grandchildren.

So, Emily, on behalf of the people fortunate enough to work alongside you, for the state of Massachusetts, and for the thousands of people you have served: thank you, and we wish you the best as you move into this next chapter of your life.