I won a case in immigration court today. My client had two misdemeanor convictions for criminal possession of a controlled substance. After two hours of testimony, she was granted cancellation of removal by an immigration judge. Cancellation of removal is a form of relief from deportation for lawful permanent residents with criminal history. Because of her convictions, my client had been detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for four months because her convictions subjected her to mandatory detention. Today, she is home with her family where she belongs.
In January, I did a consultation with the family of a detained woman facing deportation. She had fired her immigration lawyer and was looking for a new immigration attorney. Her mother was petitioning for her to get a green card. However, I had to tell them that because she had a conviction for a controlled substance, she was not eligible to become a lawful permanent resident through adjustment of status. I referred her to a very good criminal lawyer that I know. He was able to get permission from the criminal court to file a late notice of appeal of her conviction. Because her conviction is no longer final since it is on appeal, she is no longer viewed as having a conviction for a controlled substance under the immigration laws. I filed a motion to reopen her case with the Board of Immigration Appeals and it has been granted. Her case has been sent back to the Immigration Judge and she is going to be allowed to apply for a green card.
Today, I received an order from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) granting a motion to reopen that I filed on behalf of one of my clients. My client had been ordered deported in 2006. He lost his asylum case. He was found to have suffered past persecution, but was denied because the Immigration Judge found that he could internally relocate in his country and be safe.
My client came to me after he had received a notice to surrender to the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for his deportation. When he consulted with me, I remembered that a few weeks earlier, the BIA had rendered a precedent decision called Matter of L-S-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 705 (BIA 2012). In Matter of L-S-, the Board held that individuals who suffer past persecution, but are denied asylum, may be considered for humanitarian asylum, if they can show “other serious harm.” When I met with my client for the first time, it occurred to me that he could seek reopening of his case based upon this new decision. Interestingly, my client has consulted with several other immigration attorneys in New York City and none of them had thought to do this. The best idea that one of them could come up with was filing a request for deferred action and this immigration lawyer charged him $200 for a consultation!
I filed the motion to reopen and went with my client to the surrender with ICE. I convinced his deportation officer not to detain him and put him on supervised release pending the outcome of the motion to reopen. Now that the motion to reopen has been granted, my client will be back before the Immigration Judge, and hopefully, will eventually receive humanitarian asylum. His case had been over for almost six years and now he might be able to stay in the United States forever.