Category Archives: Immigration

Am I Eligible for Asylum?

There are many facts that an experienced immigration and asylum attorney would want to know before he/she could advise you. For example, have you been persecuted in the past and why?  Why do you think the government (or other groups) want to persecute you? The question of whether a person can apply for asylum turns on whether that person has a well-founded fear of persecution because of one or more of the following grounds: Continue reading

Cancellation of Removal for non-Permanent Residents Checklist

Under certain circumstances, some people put into removal proceedings who are not Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) may be eligible for a form of relief called “Cancellation of Removal”, which allows certain non-LPRs to “adjust status” and become an LPR.  In plain English, Cancellation of Removal allows some non-green card holders to ask the Immigration Judge to “cancel” their removal proceedings and allow them to stay in the U.S. as an LPR.  The statute that provides this relief is INA §240A(b)(1).  (There other types of Cancellation for LPRs and for battered spouses or children of LPRs or citizens – INA §240A(a) & (b)(2), respectively). The purpose of this post is to provide a checklist for eligibility for Cancellation of Removal for non-permanent residents.

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Public Service Announcement – If You Have Temporary Protected Status, Don’t Plead Guilty to Those Minor Misdemeanors

If you are an immigrant here in the US with temporary protected status (TPS), you will lose this status if you are convicted of two misdemeanors.  INA §244(c)(2)(B).  And even if you have been in the US a long time and have US citizen children, you will not be allowed to stay unless your citizen (or LPR) children (or spouse or parents) would suffer “extreme and exceptionally unusual hardship.” This form of relief is called “non-LPR cancellation of removal,” and is extremely difficult to qualify for.

Often for the first offense of something like DUI, defense lawyers will advise clients to take a deal for an “alternate disposition” not resulting in any jailtime.  For example, in Maryland we have a disposition called “probation before judgment” (PBJ), which is not considered a conviction under state law.  Md. Crim. Proc. §6-220(g)(3).  The only problem is that in the immigration context, conviction is defined by federal law, not state law.  INA §101(a)(48).  Under federal law, a conviction includes some finding or admission of guilt or facts and “some form of punishment,” including a suspended sentence and/or fine.  US v. Zamudio, 314 F. 3d 517, 522 (10th Cir. 2002).  To avoid a conviction, you would have to avoid imposition of any suspended sentence or fine.  So even though the defense lawyer tells you that you are getting off relatively scott-free, with some vague warning of immigration consequences, those immigration consequences need to be considered carefully.  If you have TPS, you can’t get a  second conviction for anything.


Immigration Court Asylum Victory!

Today in Baltimore Immigration Court, I was lucky to be able to help a client from Eritrea get asylum.  My client had been subjected to almost six months incommunicado detention where she was raped and beaten after speaking out against the government at a work meeting.  Like many Eritrean women, she had also been subjected to female genital mutilation (cutting/circumcision) that continues to cause her much pain.  She was granted asylum on two grounds: membership in the particular social group of Tegrigna women opposed to FGM, and on account of imputed political opinion.  I am very grateful to have been a part of helping this client get asylum protection from removal.

Asylum for Draft Dodgers

Not too long ago, I helped a Jehovah’s Witness who was persecuted for refusal to serve in the military get asylum in immigration court.  In some countries, conscientious objectors are treated very poorly (including torture).  The US will generally not grant asylum to people who fear harsh punishment for refusing to serve in the military, but there are certain exceptions.   The two main exceptions are (1) when a draft dodger would suffer disproportionately because of race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion; and (2) when the military takes the type of actions condemned by the international community as contrary to the basic rules of human conduct. Continue reading

Counter to Claims of Border Failure, Studies Show Drastic Reduction in Mexican Immigration

In another example of reality undercutting the hysterical claims by anti-immigration proponents that border failures and a flood of new illegal immigrants require discriminatory state laws to “fill in the gap,”  the Immigration Policy Center reports that immigration from Mexico (the largest source of immigration) has decreased by 60% since 2006!  But this does not mean that the Administration’s “enforcement-only” approach is working.   Continue reading

9th Circuit Reiterates that BIA’s 30-Day Appeals Deadline is Non-Jurisdictional

Please, no one take this as an excuse to blow off the Board of Immigration Appeals deadlines, but the 9th Circuit recently restated its holding that the BIA’s appeals deadline is not jurisdictional, overturning (in that circuit) the BIA’s attempted overruling of circuit precedent.  In a decision found here, the 9th Circuit called the 30-day deadline a “claim-processing rule” rather than a limit on jurisdiction.

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Opening Argument in Upcoming Eritrean Asylum Case Involving Jehovah’s Witness

I have an upcoming merits hearing in the Baltimore Immigration Court for a Jehovah’s Witness seeking asylum from Eritrea.  I plan to present an opening argument if the judge allows (not all do).  For those unfamiliar with Immigration Court, these are bench trials in the nature of evidentiary hearings before an administrative judge.  These hearings are usually just a few hours long, and there is a DHS ICE lawyer who will require the asylum-seeker to meet his or her burden of proof of eligibility.  I am posting my draft opening argument because it illustrates many of the reasons I am so proud to participate in the asylum process.  Asylum is truly an example of America’s greatness.  It will be something like the following:

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Congressional Research Service issues new report outlining immigration issues faced by Congress

The Congressional Research Service tees up the immigration issues facing Congress with a balanced report on the debates surrounding various issues.  From the summary:

The number of foreign-born people residing in the United States is at the highest level in U.S. history and has reached a proportion of the U.S. population—12.5%—not seen since the early 20th century. Of the 38 million foreign-born residents in the United States, approximately 16.4 million are naturalized citizens. The remaining 21.6 million foreign-born residents are noncitizens. According to the latest estimates by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about 10.8 million unauthorized aliens were living in the United States in January 2010, down from a peak of 11.8 million in January 2007. Some observers and policy experts maintain that the presence of millions of unauthorized residents is evidence of inadequacies in the legal immigration system as well as failures of immigration control policies and practices. Continue reading