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Bloggings on Political Asylum

by Jason Dzubow

Lawyers Can Help, Even When They Can’t Help

It happens two or three times each week.  Someone contacts me for help with an immigration issue and after talking to the person for a few minutes, it becomes obvious that there is nothing to be done.  The person does not qualify for adjustment of status, Cancellation of Removal, asylum, VAWA or any other form of relief.  Besides commiserating, what’s a lawyer to do in this situation?  I suppose you could sing them a verse of Shana na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye and show them the door.  But probably the more responsible course is to give the person some advice about where they stand.  Here are some issues I usually discuss with these unfortunate souls:

If nothing else, you can help your clients buy an airplane ticket.

- I often tell them that since (contrary to popular belief) I am not infallible, they might want to speak to other lawyers.  However, I caution them that some lawyers will take advantage of people in their situation and charge money when there is no way to help.  I suggest that if another lawyer offers to help them, they can ask what the lawyer will do, and then call me and tell me.  I won’t charge them anything, but I will tell them whether I think the lawyer is trying to rip them off.  I figure this is a win-win.  Either the person will avoid a potential scam, or I will learn about a new form of relief.

- Recently, I have been discussing the new rule on waivers.  In case you did not hear about this rule, starting in January 2013, instead of leaving the county to apply for a waiver, eligible aliens will be able to apply for a waiver in the U.S. and, if it is approved, leave the United States, process their case at the consulate, and quickly return to the U.S.  This new rule will potentially save people years of separation from their families (unless it is blocked by Congressional Republicans).

- I also advise people about the consequences of remaining in the U.S. illegally.  Such people face detention and deportation.  I tell them that a traffic stop or any type of criminal arrest can result in an ICE detainer.  Once detained, it is very unlikely that the person will be released before being deported, so it is important to have someone to look out for family members and property in case of an arrest.

- If the person is already in proceedings, I discuss Prosecutorial Discretion and Deferred Action.  PD is where DHS agrees to terminate proceedings, leaving the alien in limbo.  At least the government will end its efforts to deport the person–for the time being.  Deferred Action may be requested before a person has been placed into removal proceedings or once they have been ordered removed.  It is simply a request that DHS not deport the alien.  People granted Deferred Action can apply for a work permit. 

- Finally, I often have to explain away false rumors.  It seems that every time there is a policy change, desperate people are led to believe that it is some type of amnesty.  Those responsible for these rumors include unscrupulous lawyers and notarios, who want to make money, and the conservative press, which interprets anything the Obama Administration does as an “amnesty.”  I explain that there has been no major change in the law and that there is no amnesty.

Although we can’t always help our clients resolve their immigration problems, at least we can educate them about their situation and help them avoid scams.  This is an important service, and your clients will (hopefully) thank you for it.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

About The Author

Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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