Recent Case Results

June 6, 2017 – Citizen of El Salvador’s asylum case is remanded from the Fourth Circuit

June 6, 2017 – Citizen of El Salvador’s asylum case is remanded from the Fourth Circuit

Facts: In August 2014, a citizen of El Salvador came to the firm seeking help with his asylum case in the Baltimore Immigration Court.

The Firm’s Representation: The firm believed that our client had a good claim of asylum based on a fear of persecution on account of an imputed political opinion where the persecutor was motivated by mixed motives of local politics and financial gain. Unfortunately, the Immigration Judge denied our client’s asylum application in November 2015. The firm advised our client to continue to fight for his rights and the Immigration Judge’s decision was appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Unfortunately, in November of 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied our client’s asylum claim once again. Down but not done, the firm convinced our client to file a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Outcome: On June 6, 2017, the Fourth Circuit remanded our client’s case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to re-consider our client’s direct appeal in light of the Fourth’s Circuit line of mixed-motive asylum case law.

Comments: The firm has won many cases on appeal. It is often difficult to continue with your case in the face of repeated setbacks. But, the firm prides itself on fighting for our clients’ rights, no matter how long and how far, when we believe in merits of our clients’ cases.

December 16, 2016 – Citizen of Guatemala receives I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

December 16, 2016 – Citizen of Guatemala receives I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

Facts: In December 2015, a citizen of Guatemala came to the firm seeking a pathway to getting a green card. The citizen of Guatemala was married to a United States citizen spouse, but the citizen of Guatemala had entered the United States illegally and therefore he could not get a green card here in the United States – he had to travel back to Guatemala and return with an immigrant visa.

The Firm’s Representation: A non-citizen who enters the United States illegally generally cannot get a green card here in the United States – illegal entry is a bar to adjusting status to that of a lawful permanent resident. In such cases, the only way to get a green card is to apply for an immigrant visa at an embassy in the non-citizen’s home country, then travel to that country, then attend the interview at the embassy, then receive a determination of inadmissibility based on illegal presence in the United States, and then apply for a waiver which may take two years to adjudicate. However, President Obama initiated a program called the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver which allows the pre-processing of an unlawful presence waiver here in the United States, before the non-citizen travels to his or her country of origin. The firm takes an individualized approach with every Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver to make sure that the waiver application has the best opportunity to be approved. This individualized approach has served the firm well because so far the firm has never had a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver denied. In our client’s case, the firm dug deep into the client’s background and the background of his spouse to find the necessary evidence for extreme hardship, the key requirement for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.

Outcome: The firm’s individualized approach worked to perfection again and our client from Guatemala was granted a Provisional Unlawful presence Waiver on December 16, 2016. Our client can now start the final step in the green card process by applying for his visa with the United States Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

July 29, 2016, Citizen of El Salvador granted INA 212(h) waiver after the Immigration Judge did not sustain DHS’s allegations of illegal reentry grounds of inadmissibility

July 29, 2016, Citizen of El Salvador granted INA 212(h) waiver after the Immigration Judge did not sustain DHS’s allegations of illegal reentry grounds of inadmissibility

Facts: In 2001, a citizen of El Salvador was physically deported based on a conviction for the Maryland offense of second degree rape by the legacy agency INS. INS deported the citizen of El Salvador despite the fact that the conviction had been reduced to third degree sex offense. Approximately two years later, the citizen of El Salvador illegally returned to the United States. In December 2015, he was picked up by DHS. After he was picked up by DHS, the family of the citizen of El Salvador contacted the firm.

The Firm’s Representation: Our client’s case was one of the most complex cases that the firm has ever handled. The firm initially sought to have our client’s original deportation order rescinded so that our client could be placed in removal proceedings and apply for permanent residency with an INA 212(h) waiver. The firm filed a motion to reopen the INA 238(b) removal order with DHS. However, almost immediately, DHS turned our client over to the U.S. Marshal’s office for a federal prosecution for illegal reentry after deportation for an aggravated felony. The firm worked with the Office of the Federal Public Defender, who represented our client in federal our court, as much as possible. After a year long court battle, the amazing OFPD prevailed and the illegal reentry charges were dismissed because the government had violated the due process rights of our client when he was deported based on an erroneous criminal conviction. Tellingly, DHS did not try to re-instate the flawed 2001 removal order. Instead, DHS placed our client into fresh removal proceedings. Most troubling to the firm was the fact that Notice To Appear, the DHS charging document, alleged that our client was inadmissible for illegal reentry after deportation and/or illegal presence in the United States pursuant to INA § 212(a)(9)(A)(ii), INA § 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I), or INA § 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(II). These grounds of inadmissibility would have blocked any attempt by our client to become a permanent resident here in the United States. To address these allegations by DHS, the firm asserted to the Immigration Court that it had the authority to collaterally attack our client’s prior removal order upon a showing of a “gross miscarriage of justice.” The firm further asserted that our client never had an opportunity to apply for relief from removal (adjustment of status based on marriage to a permanent resident) in 2001 and 2002, and if he had had that opportunity, he would have been granted permanent residency and he would never have been deported. The firm further asserted that if our client had not been deported and instead had been granted permanent residency, he would never have illegally reentered the United States. The firm asked the Immigration Court to place our client in the the position that would have had in 2001 with an opportunity to apply for relief from removal by applying for permanent residency through marriage to a permanent resident, who now is a U.S. citizen.

Outcome: On July 29, 2016, the Immigration Court agreed with the firm’s position and our client was granted permanent residency with an INA 212(h) waiver. The Immigration Court did not sustain the illegal reentry charges of inadmissibility. Ten days later, DHS decided that it would not appeal the decision and our client was released from DHS detention. All together, our client had been detained by the U.S. Marshals and DHS for nearly two years. Needless to say, our client and his family was extremely happy with the outcome.

March 31, 2016, Citizen of Cambodia receives INA 212(c) relief, seventeen years after he was unjustly deemed ineligible for such relief

March 31, 2016, Citizen of Cambodia receives INA 212(c) relief, seventeen years after he was unjustly deemed ineligible for such relief

Facts: Last year, the firm reported that our client’s removal proceedings had been reopened, sixteen years after our client had been unjustly deemed ineligible for INA 212(c) relief and ordered removed.

The Firm’s Representation: After our client’s case was reopened, venue for the removal proceedings was moved to the Charlotte, North Carolina Immigration Court, near where our client resided. Our client demanded that the firm continue to represent him and the firm agreed that we were in the best position to represent our client moving forward. The firm made the final preparations for our client’s INA 212(c) application for relief and represented our client at his individual hearing on relief in the Charlotte, North Carolina Immigration Court.

Outcome: On March 31, 2016, our client was finally granted INA 212(c) relief, nearly seventeen years after our client had been unjustly deemed ineligible for such relief. Our client was once again a lawful permanent resident. Needless to say, our client was extremely happy with the outcome.

Comment: Our client was a citizen of Cambodia, a country that refused to issue our client a travel document to return to Cambodia after he had been ordered removed to Cambodia. Had Cambodia issued our client a travel document, our client would have been physically deported years ago. Our client was lucky, but sadly thousands of green card holders were deported by a United States immigration system that obstinately and unjustly denied their legal right to apply for INA 212(c) relief, a relief that would have provided these green card holders a chance to retain their legal status and remain in the United States.

February 22, 2016 – El Salvadoran refugees of gang violence granted asylum

February 22, 2016 – El Salvadoran refugees of gang violence granted asylum

Facts: In 2013, a citizen of El Salvador and her child and her brother came to the firm seeking help.

The Firm’s Representation: Our client’s partner testified against gang members at a murder trial in El Salvador. Prior to the trial, the gang members tried to intimidate the witness by threatening the witness’ girlfriend (our client), and her child and her brother. The El Salvador police could not protect our client or her family and as a result they fled El Salvador and came to the United States looking for safe refuge. In jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes the Baltimore Immigration Court, family members who have been threatened or harmed merely because of their social status as family members are an asylum-based protected group. Here, our client and her child and her brother were threatened by gangs for no other reason than their familial relationship to the witness (our client’s partner), which is a recognized social group under Fourth Circuit case law.

Outcome: On February 22, 2016, our client, her son, and her brother were all granted asylum protection in the Baltimore Immigration Court.

January 28, 2016 – After near deportation, citizen of El Salvador enters the United States with a green card

January 28, 2016 – After near deportation, citizen of El Salvador enters the United States with a green card

Facts: In early 2013, a citizen of El Salvador came to the firm seeking a solution to his immigration problems.

The Firm’s Representation: This case was one of the most difficult cases that the firm has ever handled because the initial outlook for the case was not good at all. In early 2013, our client and his U.S. citizen wife approached the firm to see what could be done. Our client had an in absentia removal order from 2005 from when he crossed the U.S. border and was placed in removal proceedings but failed to attend his immigration court hearing. In addition, our client had two DUI convictions. There was no way to reopen our client’s case through the immigration court. So, the firm petitioned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to join a motion to reopen. Concurrently, the firm submitted a family based I-130 petition to USCIS. The firm knew that reopening with ICE would be dicey with the DUI convictions. In addition, at that time ICE had a stated policy that it would not join motions to reopen so that non-citizens could pursue the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. The firm filed the joint motion request in May of 2013. The request was denied in December 2013. The firm persisted with ICE and asked for a re-examination of the request in January 2014. Several weeks later, ICE detained our client in order to physically deport him. The firm worked fast and filed a stay of removal with ICE which was granted several days later. Fortunately, in August 2014, ICE agreed to reopen and terminate our client’s removal order. Once the removal order was terminated and the I-130 petition was granted, the firm filed an I-601A waiver for our client, which was granted on April 1, 2015. Then, the firm then processed our client’s immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Outcome: On January 28, 2016, three years after the firm started the representation, our client entered the United States with his immigrant visa.

August 21, 2015 – Citizen of India receives U.S. citizenship with theft conviction

August 21, 2015 – Citizen of India receives U.S. citizenship with theft conviction

Facts: In March 2014, a citizen of India sought a second opinion on his ability to naturalize even though he had a theft conviction.

The Firm’s Representation: This case should not have been difficult. The difficulty for the firm was that our client had received an opinion from a highly respected and high experienced immigration attorney that our client should under no circumstances attempt to naturalize. The prior immigration attorney had warned our client that if he tried to naturalize, he would be denied and placed in removal proceedings and deported. After quite a lot of discussion, the firm convinced our client that this prior advice was incorrect and the firm advised our client to file an application for naturalization, which the firm did. Making matters worse, our client’s interviewing officer at USCIS was a recent transfer from California and was not familiar with Maryland law. The firm received two disturbing Requests for Further Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. The firm responded to the RFEs and patiently explained to USCIS that our client was indeed eligible for naturalization. Nevertheless, our client was nervous the entire time, based on the initial advice from his prior immigration attorney and based on the RFEs from USCIS.

Outcome: On August 21, 2015, our client became a citizen of the United States.

June 10, 2015 and March 20, 2015, The Board of Immigration Appeals reopened the deportation cases for two citizens of Cambodia

June 10, 2015 and March 20, 2015, The Board of Immigration Appeals reopened the deportation cases for two citizens of Cambodia

Facts: Last year, two citizens of Cambodia approached the firm to see whether the firm could reopen their deportation orders from the mid 1990s. Both of our clients had serious criminal convictions that made them deportable as “aggravated felons” under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

The Firm’s Representation: After receiving the results of the FOIA requests, the firm discovered that both of the citizens of Cambodia had been denied the opportunity to seek INA 212(c) relief in their deportation cases. The firm believed that reopening was possible based on the recent Supreme Court cases of Judulang v. Holder, 132 S. Ct. 476 (2011) and Vartelas v. Holder, 132 S. Ct. 1479 (2012), which broadened the availability of INA 212(c) relief. In February, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals issued its decision in Matter of Abdelghany, 26 I&N Dec. 254 (BIA 2014), which cemented the Supreme Court decisions in the immigration removal system. The biggest challenge that the firm faced in reopening the cases was demonstrating that our clients were eligible for INA 212(c) relief and that they would merit relief as a matter of discretion.

Outcome: Both of our clients’ motions to reopen were granted by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Our clients were lucky because the Cambodia is not accepting criminal deportees from the United States and our clients were permitted to remain in the United States for many, many years after their deportation orders were final. Now, our clients will have the chance to get their green cards back.

May 15, 2015 – Citizen of Yemen obtains citizenship after successful coram nobis petition

May 15, 2015 – Citizen of Yemen obtains citizenship after successful coram nobis petition

Facts: In January 2013, a citizen of Yemen entered the United States and was stopped at the border and placed in secondary inspection. Even though the citizen of Yemen had a green card, he had an 16-year old conviction for the Maryland offense of second degree assault. Border patrol released the citizen of Yemen, but he was shaken nevertheless. He sought the firm’s help.

The Firm’s Representation: In 2013, the Maryland offense of second degree assault was potentially an aggravated felony under the INA. In our client’s case, he had been sentenced to 18 months incarceration, which could have triggered an “aggravated felony” classification. The firm had no choice but to seek a belated sentence reduction by way of a coram nobis petition. Luckily, our client had no further brushes with law enforcement which always helps. The coram nobis petition was granted and our client received a probation before judgment. The firm subsequently filed an application for naturalization.

Outcome: Our client is now a citizen of the United States. This case ended up being one the most gratifying cases the firm has ever worked on. When our client first approach us, he was in medical school. Eventually, our client was approaching graduation from medical school and he was applying for residency positions. Even though our client was at the top of his class in a prestigious medical school, his conviction for second degree assault was hindering any residency program from offering him a position. After our client’s assault conviction was re-sentenced as a probation before judgment, the firm received a call from our client. He asked whether he had to indicate on his residency applications that he had a conviction. The firm told our client that, under Maryland law, a probation before judgment cannot be considered a conviction for any purpose (although for immigration purposes, a probation before judgement still remains a conviction). So, our client started sending out his residency applications that indicated that he had no convictions and subsequently residency offers started pouring in. Our client eventually accepted a residency position at prestigious hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and he is on his way to becoming a full-fledged medical doctor. Everybody makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance. The firm was really happy to be able to help our client reach his goals.

February 23, 2015 – Citizen of Guatemala retains his green card with a 212(h) waiver

February 23, 2015 – Citizen of Guatemala retains his green card with a 212(h) waiver

Facts: In July 2012, a citizen of Guatemala entered the United States and was stopped at the border and placed in secondary inspection. Even though the citizen of Guatemala had a green card, he had several convictions for theft and he was inadmissible to enter the United States. He was placed in removal proceedings and came to the firm for help.

The Firm’s Representation: Our client walked into the firm’s office for a consultation at 5:00 pm. After reviewing our client’s criminal history, it was discovered that our client had a theft conviction and a one year suspended sentence, which in the immigration context is an aggravated felony. Further review showed that our client had walked into the the firm’s office on exactly the 90th day after he was sentenced for his theft conviction. In Maryland, criminal defendants have 90 days to file a motion to reconsider the sentence. In this case, we needed to reduce our client’s sentence by one day to 364 days or less, but the court had already closed for the day. The firm called a colleague in Montgomery County who stated that the court had an after hours drop box. The firm quickly drafted a motion to reconsider sentence and emailed the motion to the firm’s colleague who agreed to deposit our client’s motion in the after hours drop-box for the Montgomery County Circuit Court. What luck! Several months later, the motion was granted and our client’s sentence was reduced to 360 days. The sentence reduction paved the way for our client to seek an INA 212(h) waiver in the Immigration Court. Our client did the personal work to keep himself out of trouble and the firm did the rest.

Outcome: Our client was granted an INA 212(h) waiver and he was able to retain his green card. In a few years, our client can apply for naturalization.