At a recent green card interview, the officer asked my client, “Why did you return home in 1985 and 1988?”
“To give birth to my two children,” she responded.
“I couldn’t afford the health care here.”
The officer gave me a confused, dazed look.
I couldn’t bite my lip.
“Sort of kills the anchor baby rhetorical nonsense, doesn’t it?”
Early in my career, at a seminar for new attorneys, a judge gave me a piece of advice that guides me to this day. It’s proven crucial in countless trials and appeals with immigration courts and agencies.
The advice, though simple, was profound.
Good lawyers, said the judge, prepare in advance. They know their evidence before their hearings start. They maximize their clients’ chances of success.
On July 2, 2019, the Department of Justice published amended rules governing appeals of immigration court decisions. The new rules take effect September 3, 2019.
The rules attempt to resuscitate Affirmance Without Opinion, a BIA procedure discredited during the Bush and Obama administrations.
Affirmance Without Opinion (AWO) sacrifices constitutional due process for political expediency.
In the name of justice.
If you’ve ever hired an attorney, you know what I mean.
Sentences that go on forever. Words you’ve never heard before. Phrases you don’t comprehend.
Writing and speaking that makes you want to SCREAM for help.
Okay, I exaggerate.
Just a little.
It’s your choice.
You can engage in social media discussions responsibly.
Or you can share whatever images of yourself that you fancy.
Just be aware others are paying attention.
Some may be immigration officers.
When it comes to immigration, quite often, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
For instance, over ten years ago, in my capacity as a citizenship and naturalization lawyer, I wrote a series of articles that explained why Congress should pass legislation approving waivers for immigrant veterans who committed certain offenses, related to mental illnesses caused by their military service, making them subject to automatic deportation.
I was shocked to learn about the number of immigrant veterans, facing removal, who were incarcerated at the El Centro, California Dentention Facility, alongside individuals whom I represented. Thus, I endeavored to tell their story, the story of expedited citizenship which never materialized for them.
Obama was president then. Trump is president now.
The issue persists.
Nearly 20 years old, Honduras TPS and Nicaragua TPS are two of the longest-standing TPS programs.
However, termination dates for both programs have been set.
Nicaragua Temporary Protected Status benefits were designated for closure earlier this year, on January 5, 2019.
Honduras Temporary Protected Status has been scheduled to end on January July 5, 2020.
Due to pending lawsuits, the issue when and if TPS benefits for both nations will terminate is unclear.
My father became a naturalized citizen in 1951. From start to finish, the paperwork took less than six months for the government to process.
His journey to the United States, the prelude to naturalization, was fraught with danger and discrimination, neither of which deterred him from his mission to provide a modest level of financial support for his mother and siblings living abroad in poverty.
When he was sworn in, he had no idea that one day he would vote in the presidential elections for John F. Kennedy.
2018 was an incredibly difficult year for immigrants, immigrant family members, immigrant rights advocates, and immigration lawyers.
So what might 2019 hold? Will immigration affairs remain bleak or will daylight start to shine again?
How should immigrants play their cards?
One hour, 10.5 minutes.
That’s how much time, on the average, an immigration judge has to dedicate to an immigrant’s case at the Los Angeles immigration court per year.
If you’re one of the thousands of Angelinos, who has been summoned to 606 South Olive, in overcrowded Los Angeles, to an overcrowded court, consider yourself lucky.
Immigration judges nationwide get less time to review similar matters.