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Dear Editor:
I was born in US. My husband of 4 years is a UK citizen, residing in US 16 years as an over-stayer on his British Visa/Passport. He committed a crime while visiting in Nevada in 1988, and his Passport and Visitor Visa expired by 3 months. In very brief, to satisfy his penalty for using fake tokens in a casino, he was to make restitution and show valid US ID. He ultimately falsified a birth certificate, obtained a US SSN, began working to pay restitution for his crime. He has worked steadily in this country, paid tax, repaid student loans, and married two US-born women (one ending in divorce). He perpetuated his false utterances and misrepresented his citizenship status, both serious offenses and prior bad choices.. He had otherwise never committed a crime in UK/US. He considers himself an American. He votes and in every way has been a law-abiding citizen and respected the laws of the US.. except as noted above. Six months' ago he was arrested by INS for the crime which began in 1988. We obtained criminal and INS counsel to handle these issues. Money was exchanged and the appropriate services were expected from our INS lawyer who practices daily with excellent credentials, accepts money for consultations, does not respond to email, fax, letters, telephone calls. In mid-May I traveled the distance to retain this lawyer. No retainer was forth coming to date. When the sitation seemed to be unacceptable, I timidly consulted 3 of the lawyers advertised on ILW.COM. Each of the consultations was free, the lawyers spent valuable time and provided me with more knowledge in the combined 5-6 hours than I have obtained in 6 months with a lawyer I regularly paid and thought I had hired. I have learned that my husband had a few rights including a bail hearing six months' ago. I have learned that papers and documents that are totally unfamiliar to those outside the INS legal field should have long ago been filed. My city is without immigration attorneys. I am watching my husband be deported this Tuesday to England where he was orphaned at birth, has no family, no ties, no contact in over 16 years... I consider this a suicide mission. Yet to attempt to digest Immigration Law in a short time for a layman is not only impossible but insulting to those who practice this field of law. My husband and I are in our 50's. We are not uneducated or indigent yet we are ignorant of Immigration Law. We spent 3 years attempting to correct his INS status without benefit of legal counsel but through agencies which our tax dollars helped to support. We have never run or hidden from any government agency. We want to comply with laws of this country and correct my husband's status. We have not designed or desired to be annonymous in seeking to correct a wrong-doing in a proper fashion and to endure the attached penalties. We paid for legal services, received none. Disregarding the money paid to an attorney, a man has been denied the chance to be heard in an INS Court and after 6 months of paying his price to society for false utterances against the US... we are both too emotionally and mentally bankrupt to try to fight further. Six months of strength, trust, and sanity are gone. We wanted the chance, however slim, to address our pight and possibly derive a more positive outcome. We did not even have the chance to gamble. I feel violated and victimized. I am fully able to understand the word "No, I will not provide you legal assistance"... I was not told that and indeed I was told there was help available. I foolishly and ignorantly remained passive until the 11th hour. I hope this will never happen to another person who seeks help "regardless of the outcome." We simply desired to be a lawful couple and lead the rest of our lives legally and with the blessing of the US. Our lawyer denied us the chance to know if that could ever happen. If it is acceptable, I wish to recommend and publicly praise the wisdom, knowledge, patience, and kindnesses extended to me from three lawyers who are published on ILW.COM. They were marvelous and horrified at that which has happened to my husband. For people seeking INS assistance, please do not assume that "everything will be okay". Do not be lulled into passivity. Do not assume your lawyer is working for you. Do not be embarrassed of your ignorance of strange words, questions, or the names and numbers of INS forms so that you defer asking questions and expose your ignorance -vs- demanding clarification. My greatest appreciation and respect are extended to the three attorneys, who have straight-forwardly educated me and, at the same time, have destroyed any faith I had in hope for people who genuinely seek to become legal and can afford to pay for those services.

Elise Hines
Knoxville, TN



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