As with most of our cases, this client came to us on a referral. An immigration rights activist here in Los Angeles knows of our office’s dedication to and success for immigrants. Her best friend called her to ask for a referral for her cousin’s husband in Denver. He had just been picked up by ICE at their house in front of his wife and two small children. The wife was in despair -- they already had gone to one of Denver’s most prominent immigration attorneys who told the wife that she would never see her husband again except at the detention center or in El Salvador.
Our office took the case. After learning more about our client -- and the human tragedy that has befallen our client at the hands of armed guerrillas in El Salvador in 1980 -- we began working with the local ICE attorneys to secure his release. We sent voluminous pieces of information about this great man and his life in the U.S. over the past 30 years.
Within two weeks we flew to Denver for the first hearing to secure his release from detention. His entire church turned out in support. We had the bad luck of drawing one of the most difficult immigration judges in the U.S. who had denied all asylum cases in his court room the previous year. He immediately went after our client, focusing on our client’s rap sheet from the 1980’s. Fortunately, the ICE attorney who we had sent the information to began defending our client. Between the two us we prevailed upon the judge to release our client on bond. His supporters immediately paid it (an all day endeavor) and our client was reunited with his family.
We have subsequently began an all out legal assault to secure his continued freedom in the U.S. Our office has filed for his work authorization, green card through adjustment of status, asylum, convention against torture, cancellation of removal and withholding of removal (based on the law as it was in the 1980s when he was convicted of a few crimes) to name a few. We will also seek post-conviction relief for his issues in the 1980’s.
How did our client get into deportation proceedings? Unfortunately, our client ended up in the clutches of ICE because of the poor work of a Denver immigration attorney. That attorney filed a simple adjustment of status application for our client and his U.S. citizen wife. Even though he apparently knew of the client’s rap sheet from the 1980’s he did not inform the client that he would be at risk if deportation if USCIS or ICE discovered his record. This attorney filed it even though he wrote that the client entered without inspection (which was inaccurate). How could an attorney think to file an adjustment of status application if the client had supposedly entered without inspection and was not 245(i) protected? After we win our client’s case hopefully we will find out by suing their first attorney.
MORAL OF THE STORY
Get a second opinion. Immigration law is difficult. Even experienced practitioners disagree on tactics, interpretation of law, the validity of various reliefs, etc. But, check the person's reputation too. Many people will tell you what you want to hear, charge your family $7,000 and then blame "the law" when they lose your case and your loved one is deported.