America might be the land of opportunity, but sometimes immigrants need help to stay in it. Enter the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, which recently hosted its fifth annual gala at the Landmark Center in St. Paul.

The nonprofit agency, which assists immigrants from 102 countries, recognized the people who supported it during the past year.

"It's an opportunity for people who really care about fairness and welcoming people to Minnesota and the spirit of friendship to come together," said John Keller, executive director of the center.

Among the award winners was Richard Soli, the retired chief counsel for the Minnesota region of the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He used to deport people as part of his job. Now he works with the Immigrant Law Center.

"The attorneys were capable, compassionate and ethical -- I valued their contribution," he said.

Soli is part of the team that seeks to "bring justice to the immigrant community," said Keller, adding that it benefits the larger community. "We have amazing people who choose to come to the U.S., to come to Minnesota."

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177