Musings on Immigration

Our Globally Recognized Team of Immigration Lawyers Sharing Knowledge and Providing Counsel on Immigration Issues that Affect You, Your Business and Your Family

$295,000 Christmas present from ICE

In 2008, nine individuals sued more than thirty federal and local law enforcement officials (personally), pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unkown Agents Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) challenging a pattern and practice in New Jersey by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) of conducting dragnet, warrantless, nonconsensual raids on immigrants’ homes, which resulted in egregious violations of Plaintiffs’ clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. 

All of the plaintiffs lived in New Jersey, and most were citizens or lawful residents of the United States, when armed agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) entered their homes without judicial warrants, or voluntary consent from any household member, in violation of Plaintiffs’ clearly-established constitutional rights.  During the course of eight separate raids on Plaintiffs’ homes, SWAT-style teams of ICE agents struck in the pre-dawn hours, entered the homes by deception or physical force, searched the entire house, and proceeded to question all of the occupants about their immigration status.  In several homes the ICE agents terrified household members (including young children) by pointing guns at them, threatening to take children away from their parents, promising deportation or loss of residency status, and telling them that they could not speak to an attorney and/or that they had no legal rights.  In other homes, the agents deliberately disregarded evidence of lawful residency, detained individuals with every right to be in the United States, confiscated or damaged their property, and – in one case – threatened to come back and do it again.
All nine individuals will now share in a $295,000 settlement. This works out to a little under $10,000 per overzealous law enforcement official and about $42,000 for each of the seven families involved- what a nice Christmas present!

Same-Sex Marriage and Immigrant Rights - the Impact of DOMA on Immigration Reform


by Hiba Ghalib, Associate Attorney

This past weekend was a busy one for both gay rights activists and immigrant advocacy groups.  After the Supreme Court announced last Friday that it had agreed to hear two cases that challenge laws challenging same-sex marriage, over 50 groups supporting gay rights and immigration reform joined together to write a letter to the White House requesting President Obama hold off on deciding any immigration cases involving same sex couples until the Supreme Court issues its decision on gay marriage.

In 1996, Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, most often dubbed DOMA, denying same-sex couples federal benefits, including immigration benefits.  (It was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton).  This prohibited U.S. Citizens from sponsoring their foreign national spouse for permanent residency if their spouses were of the same sex. To date, the administration continues to enforce DOMA and uses it to routinely deny green card applications from legal same-sex couples, even after the Department of Justice announced in January 2011 that it would no longer defend DOMA in court.  Until a decision is reached questioning the constitutionality of DOMA, the Executive Branch will continue to enforce it. 

Since it has not been long since the recent election cycle and the nonstop campaign ads, the issues the American people find most important are still echoing in our ears.  After the economy - immigration reform, health reform, and gay marriage are among the top issues voters identified as important to the American people. 

While many have criticized the slow progress of immigration reform in recent years (if you can even call it that), it’s not hard to see how quickly the legal climate is changing generally.  Only 26 years ago, the same High Court that has agreed to take a case challenging same-sex marriage upheld laws against sodomy (a decision it reversed in 2003).

Whether or not you support gay marriage, the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage will clearly have ripple effects that impact immigration reform and groups in support of both have set aside any differences yesterday in recognition of the notion encapsulated by John F. Kennedy: The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.”

One can expect that this quick changing legal climate will cause the ‘storm of reform’ that’s currently hovering over the area of gay marriage rights to soon find its way over other lands, including immigration reform, and we can only hope that along with the clouds of change, it will rain down progress.

Read the article HERE.

Allowed to Work in the United States, but Not Allowed to be Physically Present in the United States - What?

by Rebecca Rojas, Associate Attorney

Today, the Detroit News reported that Michigan has joined the two states — Nebraska and Arizona — that have banned the issuance of driver's licenses to undocumented young people who qualify for Obama’s deferred action program (also known as the DACA program).  By way of background, the DACA program gives immigrant youth who were brought here as children and who have grown up in the United States, a two-year employment authorization card.  This card permits the holder to work anywhere in the United States.

The apparent rational behind Michigan’s decision to deny driver’s license to these young people is that they are “unlawfully present” in the United States.  The article notes Michigan’s Secretary of State “apparently reached this decision, notwithstanding federal authority stating that although a DACA designation may not confer legal status on that individual, the person is nonetheless, 'legally present’ within the United States.”

In fact, the issue of whether someone could be permitted to work in the United States, but yet not be entitled to be in the United States was reviewed by a federal court in 2008. This court found that the argument that someone be permitted to be employed in the United States, yet not be allowed to be physically present in the United States was “untenable” and “bewildering.”

It is difficult to see how Michigan’s position could be anything but untenable and bewildering.  

First, these young people have federally issued work cards for employment in the United States.  

Second, granting them licenses would allow Michigan to regulate them and to ensure that they have the appropriate insurance and registration.  

Third, it would allow Michigan to collect additional driver’s license fees and taxes.  

Fourth, granting license would enhance Michigan’s knowledge about who is living and working in its community, which would increase security.

In short, it appears that the decision to deny license to these young people is nothing more than a mean-spirited attempt to discriminate against them.  Like most discrimination, it has no rational basis.

You can read the entire Detroit News article HERE.

Arresting and Deporting Pregnant Woman For High Beam Violations

The title of this article may sound absurd.  In fact, I would not be surprised if this were an article in the satirical fake news Onion, a satirical entity that makes up fake news for the sake of giving you a good laugh.  Yet, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction, and this article in the Charlotte Observer last week is no joke.

A Mexican woman was arrested for driving with her high beams.  She has been in the United States since 1991.  She does not have a criminal record.  She was placed into removal proceedings during her arrest.

To add insult to injury, her proceedings were scheduled the week after her baby was due.  No consideration was given that babies are not always born on the day they are due, but in fact sometimes later.  Her baby was born on Thursday, the day before the scheduled date.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement finally had her proceedings terminated.  She was given Prosecutorial Discretion, where Immigrations and Customs Enforcement can terminate proceedings for an individual if they are not a danger to society, have been in the United States for a significant period, and have many ties to family and community in the area.

I have a few thoughts about this situation.  First, since when is anyone ever arrested for high beams?  I do not see any white females getting arrested for using their high beams.  The officer who arrested her should be suspended not only for poor judgment, but making life miserable for a pregnant mother.

This situation further highlights a flaw in the way Prosecutorial Discretion is used, where ICE is supposed to prioritize not trying to deport people who are not a danger to society and has ties to the community and family.  Statistics show that  ICE has been unwilling to implement this policy, according to statistics released in June by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

In this case, it took months, and only after a baby was born, for ICE to be magnanimous that it was okay for her to stay, even though she has no legal status.  Would common sense not dictate that she should not have been arrested in the first place or placed into removal proceedings?  Yet, that is unfortunately the absurdity of the situation and the agreement between local authorities and the federal government, supposedly to catch dangerous immigrant criminals.  Since when should removal proceedings be run on the following philosophy - "arrest first, ask questions later, and then maybe, just maybe, if you have a baby, we will not deport you."

Absurd.

The Achieve Act is Bad for Kids.


Republican Senators Kyl, Hutchinson and McCain have introduced a terrible version of the DREAM Act called the "Achieve Act".   http://tinyurl.com/bumbsmy

This bill is a counterfeit form of the immigration relief that kids really need.  The bill gives a "W" visa, good for two years, to work and study, to kids but does NOT lead to permanent legal status.  The qualifications are as follows:

  • Must have entered the U.S. prior to age 14;
  • Must be under the age of 29 on day of enactment, or under the age of 32 if individual has a college degree;
  • Must have 5 years continuous presence on day of enactment;
  • Must possess a High school diploma or GED on day of enactment;
  • Must have Good moral character, no felonies, not more than one misdemeanor with a jail term of 30 days with certain exceptions, no crimes of “moral turpitude” and no final order of removal (no exceptions for driving without a license); and
  • A $525 fee!


This bill will NOT pass.  And, we can demand real immigration reform. This bill is not even as good as the DACA initiated by Obama.  And certainly is a pale imitation to the Real DREAM Act written by Republican Senator Orin Hatch many years ago.  Let's demand that Democrats propose some real alternatives so that we can actual debate on immigration reform, NOW, during the lame duck session.  We do not need to settle for dirty legislative bathwater.

What Does Immigration Reform Look Like in 2013?

Now that Republicans have come to the immigration reform table, we have to ask ourselves, what will immigration reform look like five years after it was last addressed.  One thing is certain, the leverage has changed, and there are new players are at the table. Not the least of which are "Dreamers."  What would pass for immigration reform in 2007 under a weakened President Bush will NOT be enough to satisfy all of the constituencies demanding immigration reform in 2013.

What We Almost Had In 2007

There has been some talk of reviving the bill written in 2007 under President Bush.  This would be a monumentally bad idea and would be terrible for the future of immigration to America.   Let's take a look at what was on the table from a handful of Republicans, some anti-immigrant, (Graham, Kyl, Sessions, DeMint, Vitter, and some McCain), and more pro-immigrant Democrats (Feinstein, Martinez, Specter, and Salazar).  The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 was primarily an anti-immigration bill and included the following provisions, as outlined in Wikipedia:
  • Legalization and Future Flow
    • a new class of visa, the "Z visa", that would be given to everyone who was living without a valid visa in the United States on Jan. 1, 2008; this visa would give its holder the legal right to remain in the United States for the rest of their lives, and access to a Social Security number. After eight years, the holder of a Z visa would be eligible for a United States Permanent Resident Card (a "green card") if they wanted to have one; they would first have to pay a $2000 fine, and back taxes for some of the period in which they worked. By the normal rules of green cards, five years after that the illegal immigrant could begin the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
    • would have required such an illegal immigrant to be in his or her home country when he or she applies for a green card.
    • would have also ended family reunification, in which an immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen can ease the process by which their relatives from outside the country can get green cards. Under the bill, only the spouse and children of a new citizen would be made eligible for green cards.
    • would eliminate the employer-sponsored component of the immigration system and replace it with a point-based "merit" system. Points would be awarded by the USCIS adjudicating officers for a combination of education, job skills, family connections and English proficiency. Sponsorship of a U.S. employer would not be required although additional points would be awarded if a U.S. job offer was available. The labor certification process would also be eliminated. Several family-based immigration categories would also be folded into the point system. Points-based systems are already used for admitting skilled immigrants in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and other developed countries.
  • Guest worker program
    • Another new category of visa, the "Y visa", would have been created, that would let temporary guest workers stay in the country for two years, after which they would have to return home. The original bill set this program at 400,000 people a year. 
  • Increased enforcement
    • The bill would have increased enforcement of the United States-Mexico border, including increasing the number of border patrol agents by 20,000 (not to 20,000!) and adding another 370 miles (600 km) of fencing, among others.
    • The bill would have also created a new program, the "Employment Eligibility Verification System", that would be a central database meant to hold immigrant-status information on all workers living in the United States. Eventually all employers, regardless of size of the company, would have been required to assemble this information and keep the system updated on all their employees.
    • Under the terms of the bill, no further part of the bill would have gone forward until these measures had been implemented.
  • DREAM Act provisions
    • The bill contained within it the entirety of the DREAM Act, a bill that has been introduced unsuccessfully several times in the House and Senate, that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought into the country as minors who either go to college or serve in the U.S. military; it would also restore states rights in determining eligibility for in-state tuition.
    • The DREAM Act has four basic requirements, which are:
      • Must have entered the country before the age of 16;
      • Must graduate high school or obtain a GED;
      • Must have good moral character (no criminal record); and
      • Must have at least five years of continuous presence in the US.
The problems with this bill are multiple, most importantly the provisions that essentially stop further family based immigration to America, that make our employment based system one of points instead of process (ask Canada how many Ph.D. taxi cab drivers they have), and those that would delay the entire bill until the "borders are secure" and draconian enforcement provisions are in place.  Frankly, it was a bad bill that virtually everyone in the immigration advocacy community opposed.

What We Need In 2012

What we need now is an Immigration Reform Plan that looks likes the America of the future, NOT the America of the past.  We need changes to our immigration system that BRING the right people, at the right place, at the right time.   We need a 21st century immigration system that KEEPS America at the top of the world's economic, social, and political leadership.  We need an immigration system that keeps America Strong and growing for the future.    

So, what does this 21st century immigration system look like?  Lets make a list of the five key parts of my plan (presuming I was a sitting U.S. Senator):
  • Verifiable, Secure Borders and Mandatory E-Verify (post immigration reform implementation) 
    • This means secure borders without militarization.  We have effective control over virtually all our territory but will never be able to wrap a bubble around America.   (can you say "war on drugs.") Let's effectively use our enforcement officers, let's give them the funding and the tools to do their jobs, and then let's trust them to make this happen.  ICE knows how to enforce our immigration laws. Let's let them. 
    • We are going to have mandatory E-Verify. Let's phase it in over the next 3 years, while the immigration system is overhauled, so that no employer is deprived of necessary workers, and let's end this charade of the current system of "don't ask, don't tell."  THEN, you can go after the so-called "bad" employer.
  • Workable Employment and Investor Based Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa System (increased visas, simpler process, more accountability from USCIS)
    • Our H-1B quota system unnecessarily ties the hands of employers; get rid of it.  The market will take care of the quota.  
    • There should be much more generous allowances for advanced degree holders to immigrate immediately to the US, with confirmation of employment in their fields.  There also needs to be no line longer than two years for those employers and employees who prove there are no American workers to fill their positions.  Doing otherwise is sheer lunacy, and is actually the system we have now!
    • There needs to be better oversight of rogue and job-killing USCIS examiners who, at times, seem bent on denying an employer's cases, rather than on focusing on the merits of the case before them.  Allow USCIS (and ICE) officials fire bad employees.
    • There needs to be broader and easier processes for immigrating to the US through Startups and other types of investment.  Incorporating the Startup Visa Act of 2011 into the immigration overhaul bill is an excellent "start." 
  • Enhanced Quota Based Family Immigration Program to limit wait times, and ensure that no one in the "line" gets residence before those who apply for legalization.
    • Family immigration is the backbone of the American immigration system, and we have built our country on its foundation for the last 50 years.  There is certainly no need to eliminate the program, but it could use an overhaul.
    • No line should be longer than 7 years.  Waits we see now extending for up to 40 years for some countries are simply insane.  Increase the available numbers for three years, get the "line" to manageable levels, eliminate the brother/sister category, and make this system work.   Its doable, and fair. 
  • Economic/Unemployment Rate based Temporary Worker Program (Agricultural and Non-Ag) for non-degreed positions
    • Clearly we need an agricultural worker program that functions for farmers to use.  Senator Saxby Chambliss has long proposed a workable solution.  Include it in this bill.  
    • For future flow of agricultural worker, the system in place is too hard to use.  Have the USCIS run the program through State labor agencies, have the states set up the guest worker program for that state, serve as the primary recruiter, and ensure that employers comply with working condition and salary requirements.  This makes the system easier to use, not harder.
    • For Non-agricultural workers, the answer is the same. Have the individual states serve as the clearing house and be the source of securing qualified labor. This process ensures that US workers are not overlooked and that temporary foreign workers are paid the correct wage and have approved working conditions.  The states can work effectively with ICE to ensure folks confirm their departure at the appropriate time. 
  • Broad Legalization Program (apart from the DREAM Act) based upon length of residence (3 years), tax and fine payment, with temporary status and applicants placed at the end of the shortened line.  
    • This is the simple (but biggest) part of the immigration reform plan.  The first steps should be:
      • Eliminate the 3/10 year bars, and the permanent bars for unlawful entry presence
      • Provide waivers for fraud, use of fake documents, and false claims  
      • By making these simple changes, there are literally millions of people who can use the current immigration system to finish their immigration process, no special amnesty will be necessary
    • For those who have been here at least 3 years, they will be go the back of the current immigration lines. No one in an immigration queue at the time of bill passage will be made to wait longer for their immigration status than an applicant under legalization
      • There should be a requirement of payment of taxes for a set period
      • There should be a payment of a modest fine, and pass a basic civics test.
      • There should be temporary status given upon filing, that includes work permission, after  security and background check
      • The filing fees should not be so onerous that they would be impossible for a family to pay.
      • There should be a requisite wait period upon filing, say 5-7 years, before the person is given lawful permanent residence, to allow for those in the line to clear through the immigration process
      • There should be no "touch back" requirement, making applicants leave for "show" purposes only. 
      • There is no automatic citizenship. Just legal resident status. If a new LPR wants to become a US Citizen, they wait the five years like all other LPRs, but no one is compelled to be a citizen. 
Obviously, there are many details to work out in this five point plan.  And, not all advocates for reform will agree with me. But, this plan makes legal status the norm, not the exception, is simple, straightforward and could be almost immediately implemented by USCIS.  Let's not settle for the terrible "immigration reform" bill of 2007.  We need the future.  

What does this five point plan mean for Congress?  Besides working out the details, the key component in this plan means that the anti-immigration voices, e.g. those who favor NO immigration to America, including Romney's key immigration adviser Kris Kobach, are simply not welcome at the table. Now, it seems terrible to exclude people from what should be an inclusive process. But, folks like Kobach and his ilk, such as those at the inappropriately named "FAIR" ("moratorium") and "CIS," (enforcement only) have deprived themselves of a seat at the table by failing to offer any solution other than self-deportation to a broken immigration system that is vital for America's future well-being and economic growth.

So there you have it.  The How, the What, and the Why.  Now we need the When.  Let's get busy and starting calling our Senators and Congressman to make this happen this year!  You can reach them by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking for your Senator.  Tell the receptionist you are calling to urge the Senator to pass immigration reform this year.  If you don't call,  I promise you the Know-Nothings will be calling and they will be loud and they will be forceful.  Now it is our turn to demand real immigration solutions and real change.  Let's not be shy!






















Hey Georgia, E-Verify is coming—Be ready!


          Employment Eligibility Verification or E-Verify is an internet-based US government controlled system to help employers verify the employment eligibility of new hires.  The E-Verification program works in conjunction with the current I-9 forms that must be completed for every new hire. 

YOUR OBLIGATIONS UNDER GEORGIA LAW
           Congress is considering legislation that would mandate E-Verification participation nationwide and may expand the program to an employer’s current employees (E-Verification prohibits the use of the program on current employees).  We will know more about this movement after the Presidential election.  

The Georgia Legislature, in a fit of anti-immigration vitriol, jumped on the E-Verify bandwagon in 2011.  Though many larger employers in Georgia have already been subject to the new law (those with MORE than 100 employees) smaller, private employers in the state of Georgia with 11-99 employees must enroll in E-Verify and begin using the program on or before July 1, 2013.  Private employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from this law (for now). This marks the final phase for employers to enroll and use E-Verify as part of Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011

BACKGROUND
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”) mandated that the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) develop a system for employees to verify the employment eligibility of new hires.  The program currently has over 23,000 participating employers. 
In response to the Congressional mandate, the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Social Security Administration developed an internet-based system that is available in all 50 states and currently free for employers to use.  Participation is voluntary from a Federal perspective; however, many states, including Georgia, now require compliance from many employers across the state.
USCIS claims that the E-Verification program will accomplish the following goals:
·         Reduce unauthorized employment (identity theft however remains a problem in that the system does not preclude individuals who use the identity of others)
·         Virtually eliminate Social Security No Matches
·         Minimize verification-related discrimination (although a disproportionate number of new hires who are subjected to tentative non-confirmations are foreign born)
·         Protect civil liberties and employer privacy
·         Be quick and non-burdensome
·         Rely on secure documents
HOW IT WORKS
         When an employer decides to participate in the E-Verification program, they must sign a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with USCIS.  The MOU sets forth the rights and obligations of the employer, DHS, and SSA.  For instance, by participating in the program, the employer gives DHS and SSA the authority to make periodic visits to the work site to review the E-Verify records.  Also, if an employer fails to notify DHS that an employee is still on payroll after final non-confirmation, the employer may be fined.  The employer can rescind the MOU upon giving a 30-day notice.
            After the MOU is signed by the employer, DHS, and SSA, the employer sets up user accounts for the on-line system.  The employer’s representatives must participate in an on-line tutorial and pass an on-line test prior to using the system.
            Once an employee is hired with a company participating with E-Verification, the company must verify the employment eligibility of the new hire within three (“3”) days.  The company must submit every new hire to E-Verification.   The company is prohibited from using E-Verification on current employees.
            The authorized company representative logs into the E-Verification system and submits the new hires name and Social Security Number.  The new hire must have a Social Security Number.  Many international hires, though authorized to work immediately, may not have a social security number.  USCIS allows such hires additional time to obtain Social Security Numbers so that they may be run through E-Verification.
            The E-Verification program checks the information provided and responds within a few seconds.  The system returns either an:
·         “Employment Authorized” response, indicating the employee is authorized to work or a
·         “SSA Tentative Non-Confirmation” response, indicating that there is an information mismatch with SSA (this is a common response to naturalized US Citizens)
·         “DHS Verification In-Process” response, indicating there is an information mismatch with DHS (this is a common response with international students or international employees switching employers)
The employer records the system generated verification number on the I-9 Form, or can attach a printout with the verification number to the Form I-9 as a record of verification.  If the response is other than “Employment Authorized”, the employee has 10 days to contact either DHS or SSA depending upon the non-confirmation to resolve the information mismatch.  If the new employee does not contest a Tentative Non-confirmation response, then it is considered to be a Final Non-confirmation and the employment may be terminated.
E-VERIFICATION ADVANTAGES
            E-Verification’s goal is to help employers hire only employees authorized to work.  For the vast majority of cases, E-Verification is quick and easy.  Also, for employers with higher percentage of undocumented workers or who experience much use of fraudulent documents, E-Verification saves companies time by weeding out those unauthorized workers before SSA sends “No Match” letters to the company. 
            E-Verification provides an employer with a safe-harbor in its hiring practices.  When employers submit all new employees to the E-Verification program, the employer obtains a “rebuttable presumption defense” that the employer did not “knowingly or intentionally” hire unauthorized workers.

E-VERIFICATION DISADVANTAGES
            Participation in the program raises privacy and discrimination concerns for employees.  The I-9 forms that are completed by the employer for each new hire do not require disclosure of a Social Security Number, instead a Social Security Card is but one form of many that a new employee may present for the I-9.  However, the E-Verification program can only work with Social Security Numbers.  The I-9 form specifically does not require certain documents to avoid potential disclosure of the numbers and to prevent discrimination.  E-Verification essentially wipes away this protection by requiring the Social Security Number. 
            E-Verification disproportionately targets foreign nationals.  Native born US Citizens with Social Security Numbers are employment authorized 99% of the time.  Naturalized US Citizens, Permanent Residents, and other foreign nationals authorized to work tend to receive a much higher percentage of Tentative Non-Confirmations.  Those who receive Tentative Non-Confirmations must then resolve the Tentative Non-Confirmations with either SSA or DHS or possibly both.  Those with Tentative Non-confirmations create greater paperwork problems for the employers and thus may create discrimination when employers find it easier to avoid new hires with potential Tentative Non-Confirmation issues.
SUMMARY

         Employers can use E-Verification as an effective tool for employers to help ensure the employment eligibility of new hires and can provide a beneficial “safe harbor” if it later turns out that a new hire was in fact not eligible to work.  The program still has many false “Tentative Non-Confirmations” for naturalized US Citizens and foreign born employees changing employers which can be cumbersome for both the employer and

         Employers wishing to participate in E-Verification can register online by visiting:  https://www.vis-dhs.com/employerregistration.

If you would like further information about specific case scenarios or situations, please call our office at 404.816.8611, or e-mail us at ckuck@immigration.net to speak to one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

October - A Great Month for Clients


by Danielle Conley, Partner

It is safe to say that although October has been quite a busy month in Immigration Court, it has been well worth it!  Just today, I won my sixth of six merit hearings on behalf of six different individuals and their families who now have the privilege of remaining together in the United States!
    
It all started on October 2, 2012, when the Atlanta Immigration Court correctly found that a mother and son who were both in removal proceedings were each in their own right entitled to green cards in the United States as a result of the impact that their loss would have had on the mother’s two teenage daughters.  Her eldest son became the man of the family after they were devastated by the deportation of their father in 2008, and the judge simply could not bear the thought of the emotional impact on the two girls if they then lost their mother and brother after everything they have already been through.
                  
On October 4, 2012, my client had his day in court where he too was requesting a green card and permission to remain in the U.S. after being here for 20 years of his life.  Once again, the Immigration Judge recognized where justice was due in the case of a man who was the sole support for his wife who suffers from diabetes and his three young boys who all have severe issues with asthma and are on home nebulizer treatments every twelve hours around the clock. 
                  
On October 10, my client became overwhelmed with emotion in court after the Immigration Judge issued a decision granting him Lawful Permanent Residence status in the U.S.  We were able to show that it would be devastating for my client’s two children, one of whom is a teenager, to lose their father permanently, especially after the trauma of the divorce of their parents.  What made this case more heart-wrenching is the fact that the state court child custody order restricted the children from being taken out of the state, so a loss would have meant complete and permanent separation from their father.  Fortunately, the children no longer have to be worried about losing their father!
                  
On October 12, 2012, I made a very early drive down to Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, over two hours from Atlanta, where I fought for a second chance on behalf of my client who was seeking the return of his green card before the Immigration Court.  He is a citizen of Canada, but spent most of his years in the U.S. and is still a kid, at age 20.  He was surrounded by his extremely supportive family, including his mother, father, brother who is active in the Air Force and was dressed in uniform, his brother-in-law who is an active member of the U.S. army and also dressed in uniform, and his sister-in-law.  His testimony was truthful and remorseful to the point that the judge said he couldn’t possibly tear this family apart without giving my client a second chance in the U.S., and that the American justice system is about this very thing – everyone is entitled to a second chance!  My client is now home and enjoying his time with his family for the first time in seven months!
                  
On October 15, 2012, my client appeared in court after being present in the United States since 1989 with a pending asylum application.  Fortunately, he was eligible for a special type of green card application based on his country of citizenship and the number of years he has been present in the U.S.  After the judge granted his case, he had an expression that told me he didn’t quite understand what had happened, so I whispered to him that the judge gave him a green card and permission to remain in the U.S. permanently.  For a man who has always been somewhat tough and serious, but kind, it was a treat to see him break down in tears for a good few minutes.  He was of course joined by the tears of his wife and 16 year-old daughter who could barely contain themselves in the back row of the courtroom.  Those are certainly some of the moments that make it completely worthwhile!  
                  
Finally, earlier in the afternoon on October 18, 2012, the Immigration Judge together with the agreement of the Department of Homeland Security granted a green card to a young man, not quite 30 years old, who has been present in the U.S. from Colombia for the last eight years.  More excited even than my client could have been his ten-year old stepdaughter who couldn’t keep the ear-to-ear grin off of her face.  The first thing she did was give her father the biggest hug, and she never let go.  It was so important for this man to have the opportunity to remain in the U.S. and continue to be the only father that this little girl knows and a fantastic and dependable husband to her mother.

Congratulations to each and every one of my clients who are all so deserving of this great opportunity to become a permanent part of the United States of America!