Carlos Batara – Immigration Lawyer header image

Misery Loves Immigrant Company

– Posted in: Immigration Law, Policy & Politics | Reflections And Ruminations

She must have woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Immigration judges often do.

Or so it seems.

What else can explain such contentious and rude attitudes at 8:00 a.m. in the morning?

After all, tempers should be held in check until a lawyer or an immigrant gives the judge a reason to come unglued.

Immigrants are not enemies of the state. They are simply human beings seeking to live in the U.S. and deserve both due process and human respect.

Whatever the reason, why spread misery?


Many immigrants come to the United States for a singular purpose: to live a better life. A different reality often confronts them. Like stepping from a frying pan into a fire, they come into contact with other individuals, who, trapped in their own personal misery, impose their negative sentiments onto immigrants, unconsciously if not consciously.

The level of misery, which immigrants were hoping to reduce, is replicated and heightened here. As a Hemet immigration lawyer, it sometimes seems that our immigration system was built to conspire against the mental and emotional well-being of immigrants.

Government Lawyers And
Immigration Misery

Immigration trial attorneys for the government are just as condescending to immigrants and usually more disdainful and overbearing towards them.

A quick peek at court proceedings shows how this typically occurs.

It is not uncommon, for instance, long after evidence has demonstrated that an individual facing removal neither abuses alcohol on a frequent basis nor voted in elections despite being tricked into registering as a voter, trial attorneys continue to beat the dead horse ad nauseam.

This is normally accomplished with the court’s tacit approval. Instead of terminating such long-winded and repetitive questioning, judges frequently allows the government representative to drone on and on and on.

Is there some special high government attorneys achieve by intimidating immigrants in such ways?

I wonder if maybe they blast immigrants in such a manner to cover up their psychological scars resulting from a deep-seated acknowledgment they have veered greatly from the notions of justice and due process learned in law school?

Whatever the reason, why spread personal misery?

Immigration Agencies And
Professional Rudeness

A few months ago, in No Role Model: A Culture Of Rudeness At Immigration Agencies, I shared a story about how the personal misery of an immigration officer manifested itself at a client’s interview.

My client, an immigrant from China, had been summoned to an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Prudence dictated hiring a certified translator to attend the appointment with us.

My client was only 30 – 40% fluent in English. I know 0% Chinese.

USCIS brought their own translator. After a long discussion, during which the interviewing officer consulted with his supervisors, the government acknowledged there were no regulations preventing two translators at the interview.

I asserted, from the outset, that I would only consult with our translator to ensure a full understanding of questions asked and accurate answers by my client.

In other words, our translator was a back-up translator. The USCIS translator would be the primary and official translator for the interview.

It was a long drawn-out affair.

Midway through the meeting, the USCIS interpreter made a startling confession. She told the government agent that our translator was more fluent in both Chinese and English. She suggested switching roles. She recommended our translator serve as the primary translator and she would be the back-up translator, whose role would be to ensure there were no misunderstandings on USCIS’ part.


The officer became visibly upset. He verbally turned his anger towards my client and insulted him for bringing in a separate translator. I asked him to calm down.

The request fueled his anger even more.

I informed him that, as my client’s lawyer, I would unilaterally terminate the interview if he did not change his attitude, tone, and behavior.

He got up from his chair and left the room. He did not say where he was going or when he would return.

I understand stress. Most, if not all, members of civilized societies carry a certain amount of stress with them on a daily basis. At times, the load is heavier.

Still, why share personal misery?

How Pro-Immigrant Lawyers Heighten
The Misery Index

The spreading of misery in immigration cases is not limited to just immigration judges and government lawyers.

Pro-immigrant lawyers are not immune from similar criticisms.

As much as I dislike pointing the finger at my colleagues, I admit my side of the immigration fence also shares in the blame for heightening the misery index of immigration law. This is more profound among those attorneys with less than enthusiastic commitment to justice for immigrants.

For example, although some lawyers subscribe to political principles opposed to immigrant rights, they seek business from immigrants facing deportation. To what extent will they fight for issues which do not reflect their deeper social and economic values when an immigrant’s life is on the line?

Moreover, since the announcement about the president’s immigration measures, new attorney websites and advertisements have been popping up on a daily basis.

On the one hand, the rise of pro-immigrant attorneys can be perceived as a positive development.

On the other, one has to be at least a little curious about the whereabouts of these warriors before the president’s announcement.

(To be sure, I have similar concerns about legal assistants, notarios, paralegals, community groups, and non-profit organizations suddenly springing up to help the helpless.)

In short, a worry persists that some lawyers who have recently jumped on the bandwagon will perform a disservice to immigrant families, the pro-immigrant bar, and immigration law in general. Unless they are deeply committed to learning nuances of immigration law, the possibility of mediocre services leading to mediocre results is a unfortunate, though highly possible, result.

Some of the immigration newbies may stick with immigration law long after the Obama immigration news hysteria lightens up and develop into good immigration lawyers.

They’re not the problem.

Rather, I take issue with those pro-immigrant bar colleagues who lack a true long-term commitment to immigrant legal issues.

As an immigration appeals lawyer, I always ask myself why some things happened, or did not happen, in court hearings and trials which went wrong for immigrants. Even though I cannot assess motives with any degree of certainty, I have observed patterns which cause me a sense of uneasiness about the seeming absence of commitment in many cases.

Again I ask, why spread personal misery?

Personal Misery Has No Role In Professionalism

Let’s concede the obvious.

Immigrants, like all human beings, are not angels. In many instances, their own decisions and actions set in place a series of events which lead to the abusive actions taken by judges, government attorneys, interviewing officers, and pro-immigration lawyers towards them.

Nevertheless, whatever wrongs are committed by immigrants does not justify inappropriate and improper transfer of personal misery by immigration law professionals upon those they are called upon to serve.

Or are the fundamental tenets of professionalism granted an exemption when it comes to immigration law and immigrants?

By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics