Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The sadness of the season

It is the greatest time of year, and I should be thinking about my wonderful family, and my fortunate life here in Tampa. Yet I sit in my office frustrated to the maximum because I have a non-criminal alien client (from Canada) who remains in jail almost 60 days after I filed a motion to reopen his immigration case. My client was deported because he did not report for court more than five years after his application for permanent residence was denied. In most cases, this long delay between denial and entry into proceedings has been found to violate the alien's rights. I expected this case will be reopened.

The delay is partly the fault of a recent move by the Orlando immigration court. My clients immigration file was sent to Orlando, but to the wrong address. From there the file returned to central storage, and it has not been seen since. The chief administrator of the court is aware of the problem and is working to get that file so that I get my client out of jail.

But I cannot help thinking, how many other people, with no criminal record, are sitting in immigration detention facilities right now, at a time when they should be with their family and friends. Conspiracy theorists may believe that these non-criminals are in jail because the US government has jailers to pay, and without people (even non-criminals) in jail, there is no need for the jailers.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Frustrating stalemate

It is frustrating to know that CIR is the best for everybody,and to know that business leaders know this is true, and to know that most elected officials know this, and that there is nothing being done about it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When does the bad news end?

The atmosphere in Congress is violently anti-immigrant because of fear of the tea partiers. The Dream Act is soon to die, and so will immigration reform. I am not pleased.


“The next two years will be a very, very bleak period for immigration reform and for immigrants,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, which has been urging passage of the DREAM Act.

In January, Sharry added, Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Steve King of Iowa, the Republicans driving immigration policy in the House, “literally want to expel 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country, to make life so miserable they can’t get work, get an apartment, go to school or survive here, so they pick up and go home.”

When the Senate roll-call vote comes up Wednesday, there may be few, if any, GOP supporters, and even some politically vulnerable Democrats may vote against the bill, fearing a 2012 backlash.

Read more:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Americans and Immigration

In a recent Washington Post article, a condo association was motivated to act on immigration when they learned that the condo maintenance man for 15 years was an illegal alien who was ordered deported. Story here:

This just points out the truth of what I know. Americans love immigrants individually, and they dislike them in groups. Why can't these condo owners realize that the "illegals" they want to deport and kick out of this great country are EXACTLY THE SAME as their maintenance man. They are generally nice people who just want a chance to live without fear or want or war or violence.

We should not be upset about that.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad news everywhere, but....

The Republicans are in charge of the House, and I presume they will block any meaningful immigration reform. But there should be some things that all Americans would support, such as working to keep families together. Some common sense immigration reform could lessen the impact of the 3 and 10 year bars, eliminate the 10 year unwaiveable bar, and return eligibility for humanitarian relief from deportation to a greater number of permanent residents.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Immigration overhaul: Republican senators signal a partisan showdown -

Immigration overhaul: Republican senators signal a partisan showdown -

The Repubs want to know how much it would cost to deport every alien that ICE comes in contact with. They are upset that ICE is now dismissing deportation cases against aliens with approveable green card applications.

I know what it will cost: a nation's soul.

That's right. The Republicans do not think we are tough enough on immigration.


Friday, October 29, 2010

USCIS: New Application and Petition Fees Go Into Effect on Nov. 23, 2010

USCIS: New Application and Petition Fees Go Into Effect on Nov. 23, 2010

Once again, Washington, is increasing the fees aliens pay to apply for ........... everything. It seems there is no downside to increasing fees on the people who apply for immigration benefits. Unless you are a farmworker who must choose to apply for his wife or daughter, because you do not have enough money to pay for both.

The "fee waiver" you hear about is nonsense and has been worthless to the poor people for whom it was intended.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I wish I could help everybody.............but

Every day I meet people I can help. It is a great feeling to be able to tell someone who has a profound immigration problem, and is sure they will be deported, that their problem will likely amount to some paperwork, some months delay, and a return to their lawful status.

But I have to pick and choose my clients. I see the attorneys who try to help everyone, and I worry about all the client they take. I am much better lawyer when I have a limited number of cases with clients who truly want me as their lawyer.

I am confounded sometimes when my clients don't seem to care about their cases. The only way I've been able to see if the client is serious about fixing their problems is by demanding attorney fees that reflect my skill, the length of time I've been practicing immigration, the good reputation I have earned in my 15 years of practice, and the wonderful customer service that my firm provides.

There are many people, it turns out, who want my help but do not want to pay for it. So please do not be offended if you call me for help and I do not return your call. I must first pay attention to clients I already have, then I can meet with new or potential clients. The new or potential clients that I will see first are those who have made appointments to pay me a small charge for consultation. These people have indicated, by agreeing to pay a consultation fee, that they value what I have to offer, and they are interested in fixing their problems. People who just call and leave questions may never get their calls returned, as I have other priorities which may preclude me from calling them back.

Now after we meet and discuss your case, and I tell you what is available to you, and how you would go about fixing your problem, I will tell you how much it will cost to hire me to help you. This amount that I quote you may be if the larger than you wish to pay. You are not required to hire me. I will be happy to give you the plan I have your case, and I'll be happy to direct you to competent lawyers in Tampa who might be able to help you for less money.

In a perfect world, I would have unlimited time to help my nice immigrant friends, and I would not charge for my time. But this is a world where 15 years after law school I still owe $50,000 in student debt. I have a mortgage to pay, and a wife and three kids to support. I must and will charge what I consider to be a fair price for my time, and I hope you can understand this.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Obama comes through!

A new memo from ICE explains why the US government will no longer seek to deport those who have pending applications or petitions which could reasonably lead to their permanent residence here in the US.

This is great news because it shows how far the Democrats have succeeded with their attempt to take the focus off of enforcement at any cost, the policy that appeared to be pursued under the previous administration.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to report suspected victims of human trafficking.

Human Trafficking

Report Human Trafficking, 24 Hours

  • To report suspicious activity to law enforcement:
  • To reach a non-governmental organization:
    National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline

Human trafficking is a crime and a human rights abuse involving commercial sexual exploitation of a child or the use of force, coercion or fraud to compel someone into labor servitude or commercial sexual exploitation. Thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked in the United States every year.

Born in the USA, but not an American? - The Boston Globe

An interesting article for anyone who has heard about the current movement to strip citizenship from people born here, unless their parents are legally here.

Born in the USA, but not an American? - The Boston Globe

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Obama moves on policy.

President Obama has made moves that show he is interested in showing a kinder face to the unfortunate illegals here. This is just on of the many President Obama can use his law enforcement power to act to save aliens when Congress refuses to act.

Students Spared Amid an Increase in Deportations
"The Obama administration, while deporting a record number of immigrants convicted of crimes, is sparing one group of illegal immigrants from expulsion: students who came to the United States without papers when they were children." Julia Preston, NYT, Aug. 9, 2010.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Immigration Amnesty for some

The New York Times reports that now illegal immediate family members of US citizens in the military may qualify for parole and may apply for their green cards here. Awesome!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dream the impossible dream

I have a number of outstanding victories lately that I would like to share with you.

Case #1. A Family torn apart.

USC husband, Mexican wife and two USC kids. They went to an "attorney" in Pinellas and the result of his fine representation was that the wife was banned from the US for ten years with no waiver available. The couple came to hire me. I did not like their chances, but the truth still matters, doesn't it? While we worked on the case the wife and older son lived in Mexico, and the Husband and younger son lived here. This untenable situation was a great motivator.

Among other things we did, we reapplied for permanent residence as the wife of a USC. One year later my client got her interview, where she was able to convince the reviewing officer (thanks to great documentation from the family) that the previous application was wrong, and that she had only been in the US illegally once. Her application for a waiver of the ten year bar based on illegal stay was approved immediately and she returned and is currently living with her husband and two children -- all together like they should be.

Case #2. We are not waiting for the waiver.

My USC client is married to an Ecuadorian. The alien has previous immigration issues and will need a waiver to return. I was hired only to assist with the waiver. While we were working on the waiver, the USC wife refused to put her plans for family on hold had her second child, which she raised along with her first child with her parents help. The husband remained in Ecuador. I worked closely with the wife preparing and submitting the waiver, and I was confident it would be approved.

Imagine my dismay when the employee of the US Embassy took the waiver, and told my client "That's all you got? That waiver is never going to be approved!" After I calmed my client down and let them know that the decision would not be made in Ecuador, but in the central waiver processing office, we settled in for the interminable wait. One and one half years later (and yet another baby for the couple) the waiver was approved, and my client and his reunited family are back together.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Miami CIS - Orlando CIS

I have now been to the new digs of Orlando and Miami CIS. They are awesome! The offices are large, with ample waiting rooms and plenty of room for people to wait inside (!!) out of the heat and rain while they wait to get in. When will it be Tampa's turn to have the new great office?

My sources tell me that Tampa CIS is close to moving, but they do not know where. Maybe to Brandon to be close to the ASC? Maybe downtown, because there is a glut of space there? As soon as I know, I will let you know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How many clients can they serve?

This question struck me the other day when I was in immigration court. I had my usual one client and was well prepared for what I wanted to do at that hearing. I could not help noticing that some attorneys had many clients for each hearing. That must mean they have good business, or their rates are inexpensive, but I wonder what kind of service their clients receive.

All too often I see attorneys immigration court question their clients when the judge asks them "what language does your client speak?" or "where does your client live?". I know this about my clients before we get to court.

I have heard horror stories about aliens who only know that they are at their final deportation hearing on the day of their hearing. I have heard stories about aliens who met their lawyer twice during their entire case, once when they paid him, and once for the final hearing. By the time I am finished with a deportation case, my clients of often had enough of me. with the assistance of my partner Krista, and my assistant Sasha, we meet continually with our deportation clients up until the final hearing date, always preparing for the final hearing. No client of mine is ever surprised on the witness stand, because they've heard all the questions before, from me. In my last case, my client had a list of 178 questions that I expected he would see that day.

I am much more concerned about quality of representation, then the quantity of my clients, and I think that is the proper attitude to have.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dragon helps me out!

Forgive me for being absent so long, my friends. It is been a crazy couple of months.

I recently purchased the Dragon voice-recognition software, and I could not be more pleased. This software can even determine what I am saying, which is a step up from our last attempt at voice-recognition software.

New things in immigration:

TPS for Haitians - it's about time that the nice people from Haiti got a break. It is too bad that it took a devastating earthquake to give them that break. This is great news for those from Haiti facing deportation, as this process will stop for a while.

CRI -- comprehensive immigration reform has been presented and is pending in Congress and the Senate. I certainly hope the president is more successful with this endeavor than he was with healthcare reform.

In recent cases, I have won quite a few 240 A(b) applications for my clients, and although the government is starting to appeal every loss, we are undefeated on appeals. You may remember these cases involve non-permanent residents who have been in the US for more than 10 years, who can show exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to their qualifying US citizen or lawful permanent relatives.

At Citizenship and Immigration Services, they remain very leery of every marriage case, and the decisions on petitions to remove conditions remain as baffling as ever. I saw a decision recently, during a consult, where the immigration service officer called the US citizen wife a lesbian, and said this was why he could not approve the case. If your petition to remove conditions has been denied, do not feel special. Too many good people are having their lives disrupted and their bank accounts destroyed because of poor decisions from the local office.

I hope to write more often in the future. Sorry I have been absent for so long.