September 9, 2017 – Citizen of El Salvador was granted U.S. citizenship after three and half years of litigation

Facts: In early 2014, a citizen of El Salvador came to the firm seeking help to get his citizenship.

The Firm’s Representation: Our client had been a green card holder for 27 years, but he had been convicted of two counts of Maryland theft in 1996 and 1997. Understandably, our client was nervous about applying for naturalization. In 2014, those theft convictions were considered “aggravated felony” theft convictions and precluded naturalization. So, the firm filed coram nobis petitions for each of his theft convictions in the Maryland state court. Unfortunately, the coram nobis petitions were denied but the firm appealed. During the appellate process, the immigration case law changed such that Maryland theft was no longer being considered an “aggravated felony” theft conviction. So, the firm asked the appellate court to stay the appeal while our client applied for naturalization. Despite extensive legal briefing, our client’s naturalization application was denied. The firm appealed the denial of the naturalization application by filing an N-336 Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA). The firm included additional briefing based on a recent case that had been decided in the Supreme Court, Mathis v. U.S., 136 S. Ct. 2243, 2247 (2016), that supported our client’s position.

Outcome: On September 9, 2017, our client was sworn in as a citizen of the United States.

Comments: This case was a very gratifying win for the firm because it was such a hard-won fight. The firm believed that our client deserved citizenship and both the firm and our client never gave up, despite the numerous setbacks.