By Ally Bolour, Esq. – Bolour Immigration Group
This year, we don’t just have the California fires – we also have multiple Trump-created “fires” burning within the immigration realm. Immigration benefit processing times are longer. Too many approvable cases are getting denied. More families are being placed in removal proceedings for minor infractions. There are backlogs in immigration courts. Record number of people are getting removal orders. There is fear everywhere as to if, when, and how this Trump-created mayhem will end.
There are noticeable trends on how attorneys are coping with this new reality. For example, whenever possible, we are seeking relief from District Courts as opposed to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAO) of the Department of Homeland Security. The reasoning being that when the government denies a case by applying the wrong law or fact, appealing to the AAO would give them an opportunity to fix how they reached their wrong conclusions. A federal judge perhaps would not be as accommodating as DHS’s own set of arbitrators.
We are also advising clients to expect more challenges as they navigate thru their particular immigration paths. We continue to scrutinize the evidence we submit to make sure they’re concise and to the point. In cases where there is a criminal history, we work together with a criminal defense attorney in an effort to minimize the damage on the immigration side. For example, it does not matter if a conviction is old or if its been expunged, or even if charges have been dismissed or reduced after taking a plea. However, it does matter if there were any due process violations during the criminal court hearing. We use relevant statutes and case law in order to possibly get a do-over on the criminal matter based on constitutional grounds.
The government is also issuing a lot of Notices to appear (NTA) in immigration court. As stressful as that may be, I for one believe that an NTA, though it formally places the individual in removal proceedings – is not necessarily a bad thing. Some forms of relief are only available in immigration court and not necessarily at USCIS. Also depending on the Judge’s docket – a case may be pending in court for years which could give the Respondents adequate time to prepare and gather evidence to support their claims.
Lastly, Central American cases face new challenges due to restrictions imposed by the Attorney General Jeff Sessions. For example, an asylum case based on domestic violence or gang violence needs a much more detailed set of facts in order to have a fighting chance in court.
In the age of Trump, everything is more complicated on the immigration front. It is now more urgent than ever to retain an immigration attorney from the start in order to achieve optimum results. To schedule a time to consult with one of our attorneys, please call our LA office at 323-857-0034.