The wave of immigration into the United States, particularly from Central American countries, has come to a head: after a national enforcement action to target minors was issued, 121 Central American adults and children were tracked down and rounded up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the first weekend of January 2016, made ready to be shipped back to their home countries.
With the increasing violence in Mexico and Central America, many children are abandoned or become orphans and flee to the U.S. in an attempt to find refuge. They make their way into the country through any means possible, and many of them end up entering illegally. Because of their potential refugee status, many of them end up staying in the country. Continue reading “Unaccompanied Minors are Crossing the U.S. Border”
Deportation Defense of Kong Xin Chen
Kong’s arrest and the prospect that he could be deported has visibly shaken his community in Marshfield, Massachusetts, drawing the attention of the Boston Globe, the Quincy, MA Patriot Ledger and other Massachusetts newspapers. Kong’s case has earned the sympathy of state and congressional representatives and prompted his community to rally around him. His supporters have created a Free Kong Now Website, organized a fundraiser to help support his family and flooded my office with heartbreaking letters of support.
This afternoon I got off the phone with Kong’s brother and he told me the amazing news: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released Kong from jail! Very soon, he should be back in Massachusetts reunited with his family, friends and supporters, all of whom must be ecstatic at this wonderful and unexpected news.
While Kong’s immediate release is certainly something to celebrate, the legal battle to stop his deportation and to gain immigration status in the United States is far from over.
Here’s some background on what happened and why. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Kong on his own recognizance (without requiring an immigration bond) under what is known as an Order of Supervision. Kong’s release didn’t come about because of my exceptionally brilliant legal work. And it doesn’t mean that Kong got any sort of special treatment from the immigration system. Instead, he was released as part of the standard custody review protocol that ICE is required to follow for all non-criminal immigration detainees who, like Kong, are subject to final orders of removal or deportation. After returning to Massachusetts, as a condition for his release, Kong will be required to report in periodically at the ICE office in Burlington.
An Order of Supervision means that Kong is free for the time being but it doesn’t directly confer any immigration status. It’s just an alternative to detention and a temporary reprieve from a certain fate. In other words, while immigration authorities are arranging travel documents so that can be Kong forcibly deported from the United States, he will not have to remain in jail.
Even though he is free from jail, without further legal advocacy, Kong can still be deported at any moment. As part of our deportation defense strategy, the next steps, as I see it, are to request that the Department of Homeland Security exercise favorable prosecutorial discretion in several forms. First, we will ask the Office of Chief Counsel in New York, New York to consider filing a joint motion to reopen his deportation order in Immigration Court. Next, we will ask U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Boston Field Office in Burlington, Massachusetts to grant deferred action, as well as a stay of deportation.
For all of you who care about Kong and his family, for fans of Mandarin Tokyo restaurant, once the celebrating is over, I urge you to redouble your efforts. Keep doing whatever it is that you’ve been doing.
Prosecutorial Discretion and Joint Motion to Reopen
To the friends of Kong Xin’s family and supports of the Mandarin Tokyo restaurant in Marshfield, Massachusetts, thank you for agreeing to help with a letter of support. As the immigration lawyer who is preparing Kong Xin’s deportation defense case, I’m writing to give you some background on his case and to offer guidance on how to make your letter of support have as much impact as possible.
Kong Xin is currently in jail in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he has a in absentia order of removal or deportation from more than ten years ago. Kong Xin was ordered to be deported at a hearing he didn’t attend. Through miscommunication with his former lawyer, Kong Xin missed his hearing because he never had actual notice of the time and date of the hearing.
Even though Kong Xin is married to a U.S. citizen and has U.S. citizen children, he cannot apply for a green card because he has this existing order of removal or deportation. To removal this obstacle, he needs the Immigration Judge to reopen his deportation order, which would allow him to apply for a green card through marriage and request a hearing that may allow him to be released upon the payment of an immigration bond.
As Kong Xin’s immigration lawyer, I believe that the best strategy is to ask attorneys for the Department of Homeland Security to join Kong Xin in requesting that the Immigration Judge reopen his case. You may have heard in the news that the Obama Administration recently issued new guidelines for prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases. The stated goal is to prioritize the deportation of criminals, while treating more favorably those who present positive equities. Along these lines, we are asking attorneys from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reopen Kong Xin’s case out of the goodness of their hearts.
In support of our request, we would like a letter from you explaining why you believe the Department of Homeland Security should join Kong Xin in making this request. It is important for your letter to be based on your own personal experience and to be as detailed as possible. Your letter should address the following:
- Discuss your relationship with Kong Xin. Describe how you met him, how long you have known him, and under what circumstances you interact with him. Please give examples from your own personal experience showing that Kong Xin is a good person who takes care of his family and contributes to his community.
- Describe the extreme hardship that Kong Xin’s wife and children would face if he were deported to China. While Kong Xin would certainly suffer, it is much more important to explain how Kong Xin’s U.S. citizen family would suffer if he were deported.
- Describe how important Kong Xin is to you and your community and how his forced deportation and possible absence would negatively impact you and the community at large.
Make sure your letter includes your name, address, and whether you are a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States. Your letter should be addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam” at:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of District Counsel
26 Federal Plaza – Room 1237
New York, New York 10278
Re: Request for Joint Motion to Reopen In Absentia Order of Removal
Kong Xin CHEN, A073-649-669
Do NOT send your letter directly to the Department of Homeland Security. Please send it to me by February 15, 2012 or as soon as possible thereafter. I will submit your letter, along with others, in a packet of other documentation. Your letter should be dated and signed in ink. Above your signature, please include the words: “Under the pains and penalties of perjury, I declare that this statement is true and correct to the best of my information and belief.” Notarizing your signature would be helpful but is not essential or required.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. On behalf of Kong Xin and his family, I would like to thank you in advance for your help and cooperation.
Finally, at least for the time being, I do NOT recommend that you call a Massachusetts politician (e.g., Senator Scott Brown, Congressman Bill Keating) or alert the media. Our first and most important effort should be gathering as many high quality letters of support as possible. After we submit our formal request for prosecutorial discretion, we can shift our focus to media and congressional assistance.
I will be posting more information on Kong Xin’s case as soon as I know more.
This week, I had a detained deportation trial in Boston Immigration Court. My client, a permanent resident who had lived in the United States for over twenty years, was facing deportation to Pakistan, a country where he knew no one and didn’t speak the language. He entered Boston Immigration Court in chains and an orange jumpsuit and walked out of court knowing that he would soon be a free man and a could continue his life in the U.S. with this green card.
Allow me to explain how I won the case:
The Department of Homeland Security had arrested my client and detained him at the Plymouth County House of Correction in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Interestingly, my client was arrested in Connecticut but because Hartford Immigration Court has not detained docket, he was transferred to a facility in Massachusetts so that his deportation trial could be placed on the docket of Boston Immigration Court. In Boston, Immigration Judge Steven Day exclusively handles the detained docket for all deportation cases in all of New England (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire).
My client was facing the prospect of being deported because of a criminal case that had concluded many years before. Initially, Immigration and Customs Enforcement charged my client with having a criminal conviction that was classified as “aggravated felony.” But, after I reviewed the record of conviction (especially the plea colloquy), I realized that, in fact, he had pled guilty to a divisible statue. This means that he was convicted of a statute that included several different offense, some of the included offenses were aggravated felonies, while others were not.
Based on this research, I successfully challenged Immigration and Custom’s Enforcements’ allegation that my client had an aggravated felony conviction. This was a crucial victory because even though my client was still deportable, by eliminating the aggravated felony conviction, my client became eligible for relief in the form of cancellation of removal for certain lawful permanent residents.
Cancellation of removal is essentially a way of asking the Immigration Judge for a second chance. The standard is a balancing of the equities where the Immigration Judge weighs a range of factors including the severity of the applicant’s criminal offense, the recency of the criminal record, the hardship imposed by a possible deportation, as well as any other positive or negative equities.
In support of my client’s application for cancellation of removal, I prepared a detailed affidavit of his proposed testimony in Immigration Court. This gave my client an opportunity to tell his life story. Most importantly, he explained why he was unlikely to have problems with the law in the future. And, at the end of the deportation hearing, Boston Immigration Judge Steven Day granted the application for cancellation of removal, a hard won victory for my client.
If you or someone you know is facing deportation and needs and aggressive and effective attorney for representation in Boston Immigration Court, please call me. I’d be happy to review your case and help out outline a winning deportation defense strategy.
Boston Immigration Court News
Boston Immigration Court has announced the appointment of a new Immigration Judge. Steven Day, a retired Marine and former appellate attorney with the Office of Immigration Litigation, will be filling the vacancy created when Immigration Judge Francis Cramer retired. As with custom, Immigration Judge Steven Day will complete in-house training program at for immigration judges and then serve temporarily at Immigration Court in Newark, New Jersey. Immigration Judge Steven Day is expected to begin hearing deportation cases in Boston starting in April.
In another big personnel change, Immigration Judge Eliza Klein will be leaving Boston Immigration Court and has accepted a transfer to the Chicago Immigration Court. This is a transfer she had requested. She will arrive in that Immigration Court during July. So, with Judge Klein’s departure, it remains to be seen who will fill this vacancy on the bench in Boston Immigration Court.
I’ll send over more information on closings as soon as I receive them. Meanwhile, stay warm and stay off the roads.
As a Boston-based immigration lawyer specializing in deportation defense, I’m well aware of the Boston Globe reported today here. The docket in Boston Immigration Court is overwhelmed with deportation cases.
So, based on this article, if you are in deportation proceedings, how long can you expect to wait before Boston Immigration Court processes your immigration case? The answer depends on a number of factors. People with no relief from removal or deportation tend to have their cases processed more quickly. The long delays mostly impact people who have application for relief such as cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, or asylum.
To give you an example how these delays play out, in December of 2009, I appeared before an Immigration Court in Boston for a master calendar hearing. I turned in pleadings indicating that I was seeking relief from deportation in the form of cancellation of removal with an I-601 waiver for misrepresentation. An Immigration Judge would likely need three and a half hours for to conduct a full merits hearing. The Immigration Judge scheduled another master calendar hearing in December of 2010, where I’m expected to appear and turn in my application for relief. The Immigration Judge will then schedule an individual hearing, which is a trial date. I expect that this hearing will be in mid-2012.
So for my client, the entire process of seeking relief from deportation in Boston Immigration Court will take more than 3 years. This delay is more than a minor inconvenience. During this time, he is unable to travel outside the United States to see his ailing mother.
One ray of hope is that a new Immigration Judge will replace Boston Immigration Judge Cramer, who retired last summer.
As an immigration lawyer in Boston, I’m often asked if I know the phone number for Immigration in Boston, Massachusetts? If you have a pending green card application or citizenship cases and you live in the Boston, Massachusetts-area, surely U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a local phone number that you could call to inquire as to the status of your immigration case, right?
But the answer is that no such number exists. USCIS has an 800 national number National Customer Service Center (NCSC) 1-800-375-5283. But I discourage my clients from calling this number because I’ve never been able to use it to resolve any problems or gain any useful information.
The best way to communicate with USCIS Boston District Office about a pending green card or citizenship application may be to make an INFOPASS appointment. Go in person to this appointment and you can ask questions about your immigration case. The officers and staff at USCIS Boston District Office can be miracle workers.
Not everyone should go in person to USCIS Boston District Office. If you are undocumented, out of status, or if you have a final order of deportation or removal, or if you have certain criminal convictions, then you are potentially deportable and could be subject to arrest by immigration authorities. So you should consult with an immigration lawyer before deciding to go in person to USCIS Boston immigration office.
Aside from USCIS INFOPASS, if you have a deportation case in Boston Immigration Court, you can call them at 617-565-3080. Or if you have a question about someone who has been arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE in Burlington, Massachusetts, you can call ICE’s office at (781) 359-7500.
To summarize, USCIS Boston District Office has no phone number that the public can use to follow up on their immigration case. Instead, consider making an INFOPASS appointment. For deportation cases, call Boston Immigration Court or ICE in Burlington, MA.
If you need more help with your immigration case or for advice or guidance, please call or email me to set up a time to meet to discuss your situation.
I will be hosting an upcoming brown bag lunch for immigration attorneys who are members of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). The topic will be deportation defense and Immigration Court practice. Before hosting this brown bag lunch, AILA lawyers will take a tour of Boston’s Immigration Court with EOIR Court Administrator Robert Halpin.
At the lunch, bring your questions about cases in Immigration Court.
I’ll also be offering general tips on motions to reopen and advice on how to make sure that your cases conform with the new Immigration Court Practice Manual. Other topics will include cancellation of removal and I-601 immigration waivers.
If you have questions about deportation defense or how to handle a case in Boston Immigration Court, feel free to call me.