I finally had my first day back in immigration court since the pandemic began. The immigration court at 26 Federal Plaza in New York closed during the pandemic and only recently reopened. I checked my calendar. It turns out that the last time that I had immigration court was on March 10, 2020. I have never gone so long without going to immigration court. I missed going to immigration court. I really enjoy doing deportation defense work. My client won his case and was granted cancellation of removal. It always feels good to win.
2014 was not a good year for me to blog. I was very busy last year and did not have time to blog. My New Year’s resolution is to blog more this year. Since I did not do any blogs last year, I thought I would start off this year with a blog reviewing what I did in 2014.
I had a lot of victories this past year. Among my successes were:
* I got humanitarian asylum for a client from India. When someone who demonstrates past persecution is not entitled to asylum because of changed country conditions, they can still get “humanitarian” asylum, if they can demonstrate that they will suffer “other serious harm.”
* I won an asylum case for a client from Belarus.
* A detained client was granted cancellation of removal. It was nice to see him get released and be reunited with his family.
* A client with multiple marijuana convictions was granted a waiver pursuant to INA § 212(c).
* I had three clients’ cases reopened by the Board of Immigration Appeals, so that they could seek a waiver pursuant to INA § 212(c) based upon a change in the law. One of these three clients has already won his case. In that case, the Immigration Judge said that he was not sure if he wanted to grant the case. I then did a closing argument and the Immigration Judge was persuaded by my argument to grant the case.
* I won a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit where the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision to deny my client asylum was overturned and the case was remanded for a new decision.
* A client with a conviction for criminal possession of a weapon was granted cancellation of removal. The Immigration Judge said that my case was so well prepared that we did not need to take testimony – that does not happen often.
* I had three clients get green cards through adjustment of status. In one case, the client’s husband died after the interview and I had to get my client a green card through a widow petition.
* I had two clients become citizens through naturalization.
* One of my client’s had his fiancé visa granted. It felt great when he e-mailed me a wedding picture of himself with his spouse.
* I did a motion to reopen that got a client’s in absentia order rescinded, so that his proceedings were reopened.
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I resumed being an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School in the Fall. I teach a course that I created called “Immigration Workshop: Deportation Defense.” The course was not offered during the 2013 academic year. I had a great class and enjoyed teaching this past semester. I would love to teach again this Fall.
In addition to teaching at Brooklyn Law School, I also taught continuing legal education (CLE) courses. In order for lawyers to maintain their law license, they must take CLE courses. I taught four CLE courses last year to help immigration attorneys learn about how to practice immigration law:
* In November, I took part in the Brooklyn Defenders Services’ First Annual Deportation Institute. It was a very interesting experience. I was one of seven instructors who worked in small groups to help immigration lawyers develop their court room skills.
* On August 11, 2014, I spoke at the Practicing Law Institute on cancellation of removal.
* On June 20, 2014, I spoke at American Immigration Lawyers‘ (AILA) National Conference on “Practical Issues in Removal Proceedings.” I have been invited to speak again at this year’s AILA conference.
* On January 12, 2014, I taught a CLE at Brooklyn Law School for the Practicing Law Institute called, “CRIMMIGRATION: What Criminal Lawyers Should Know about Immigration Law and What Immigration Lawyers Should Know about Dealing with Criminal Lawyers.” This was a special CLE for me. Usually, when I teach a CLE, I am given a topic with instructions about what I am supposed to talk about. For this CLE, everything about it was developed by me.
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I spent part of the year working part-time at the Immigrant Defense Project. They needed some assistance with their help hotline, so I spent a few weeks working with them part-time as the interim supervisor of their hotline and as a senior attorney assisting the new supervisor with running the help hotline. I love working with the people at Immigration Defense Project. However, going back and forth between my office and their office exhausted me. The Immigration Defense Project’s help hotline provides assistance to many people, so I felt that it was important that I help them out when they needed it.
I continued to be on the Amicus Curiae Committee of the AILA and the Advisory Board to Brooklyn Defenders.
Except for not blogging, it was a pretty good year.
Whenever I have a new client that has had dealings with immigration, I usually do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Under the FOIA law, anyone can ask a the Government for a copy of their immigration file, which is called “the A File.” Immigration lawyers are permitted to do FOIA requests on behalf of their clients.
Recently, I received a response to a FOIA request and documents were intentionally omitted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS). His prior wife had filed a visa petition for him and the visa petition was denied, but the visa denial was redacted from the FOIA response, so that we did not know why it was denied. I appealed the redaction of the FOIA request and demanded that the visa denial be provided. The CIS agreed with me and provided me with the documents that I requested. The non-redacted information turned out to be helpful to the client’s case.