The call came in to our office eight days before Christmas. The caller's life-partner had been arrested and detained by ICE. He had lived in the U.S. for 26 years, since 1985. He had applied for and been denied asylum in 1990 and was to be deported. He didn't leave. Over the years he had applied for TPS, work authorizations and done an unsuccessful motion to reopen. He had worked with multiple attorneys and notarios, none of who spotted the one issue that would save him. 21 years later, inexplicably, ICE came to his house and arrested him.
His life partner (now his wife) told me they were pressuring him to sign for voluntary departure. I told her to tell him NOT TO SIGN ANYTHING. After researching the facts of his case -- no small feat considering he had 25 years of incomplete immigration records -- I found the "loophole" that would save him.
Back in 1991 there was a lawsuit called American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh, otherwise known as the "ABC Settlement." This settlement has allowed tens of thousands of Guatemalans and Salvadorans to receive their green card if they meet certain requirements. Among those requirements was to have had a denied asylum application in the 1980's or early 1990's (dates vary). Remarkably, my client qualified by meeting all of the requirements.
I quickly called the Office of the Chief Counsel of ICE. I briefed the case for him and he agreed that my client should not be detained. [ICE is not allowed to detain individuals who qualify for the ABC Settlement]. He called the detention center in Mira Loma (Lancaster) and ordered my client's release. My client was released on Christmas eve!!!
MORAL OF THE STORY
When I called the ICE detention center a few hours later to follow up, I spoke with the head of operations there. When I told him why my client was being release he said: "You got your client out because the of the ABC settlement? Where's he been the last 20 years- living under a rock?" That was both funny and sad. There are thousands more individuals who could be helped but they have never found an attorney with the right knowledge, drive and compassion that they could actually trust with their case. Make sure your friends, family members and colleagues know that you trust our law office to represent their opportunity, family and hope.