Our Client’s wife, a U.S. citizen, contacted us on a Friday afternoon and explained that her husband had been detained by U.S. Immigration Officials and was about to be immediately removed to Guatemala since DHS was reinstating his prior removal order. A detailed consultation with our Client’s wife revealed that our Client had first entered the U.S. without inspection in 2003, was subsequently detained and placed in removal proceedings and was ultimately granted Voluntary Departure by the Immigration Judge in 2004. However, he never left the U.S. and in 2009, was arrested and physically removed to Guatemala. In 2010, our Client re-entered the U.S. without inspection and has been residing in the U.S. since then. Most recently, our Client encountered CBP when he and his wife mistakenly crossed the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, New York and he was subsequently detained.
Besides learning about our Client’s immigration history, we talked about his family – our Client’s wife, a U.S. citizen, suffers from severe mental illnesses and is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a result of these illnesses; the couple have three (3) minor U.S. citizen children and their mother is unable to care for them on her own; our Client’s mother-in-law, also a U.S. citizen, is elderly and was about to be released from a rehabilitation hospital after breaking her hip and needed assistance with household tasks. One of the most important facts we were able to gather was that when our Client was removed previously in 2009, our Client’s wife began experiencing suicidal ideations (documented in her medical records) which was in fact one of the very reasons our Client returned to the U.S. unlawfully in 2010 – not out of a desire/malicious intent to violate U.S. immigration laws, but to ensure his wife and children’s health and safety.
Given the Client’s extensive immigration history, he is ineligible for relief at this time which would allow him to obtain permanent resident status – despite being the husband and father of U.S. citizens. This is because he is currently subject to a ‘permanent bar’ which requires that he remain physically outside the U.S. for a period of at least ten (10) years before he can apply to immigrate to the U.S.
The following Monday/Tuesday, our office prepared a detailed submission to submit to ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations (ERO) outlining why our Client was deserving of a Stay of Removal (submitted on Form I-246) for a period of one (1) year. In our packet, we admitted the Client’s previous immigration violations, but highlighted the positive equities present in his case. Namely, we submitted that ICE should exercise favorable prosecutorial discretion in his case for the following reasons: our Client has a USC wife, three minor USC children, and an elderly USC mother-in-law; our Client is the primary caretaker for his disabled USC wife who suffers from severe mental illness, for the couple’s three minor USC children and for his elderly USC mother-in-law who is about to be released from a rehabilitation hospital after breaking her hip; and our Client does not fall into ICE’s civil immigration enforcement priorities (per the 2011 PD Memo).
After submitting the application packet, we followed up with ICE ERO and were ultimately informed that our Client’s Stay of Removal had been granted and he would be released in the near future. Once released, our Client can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting Form I-765 to USCIS. Upon receipt of his EAD, he will have work authorization and will also likely be able to obtain his Driver’s License. This family can now remain together while they anxiously wait and see if Comprehensive Immigration Reform, if passed, will help his case.