Immigration Court Grants Green Card to Client After Appeals Court Overturns Deportation Order
Last week, an Immigration Judge in York, Pennsylvania granted our client’s green card case after a long legal battle that had kept him in jail for almost one year. Our client came to the U.S. many years ago and had a green card through his mother. He came to the U.S. when he was a small child, and does not even remember his home country. However, he never became a citizen, and when he was 21, he had been convicted of a marijuana offense. Marijuana is illegal and there are strict criminal penalties for selling marijuana. Also, immigrants are often deported for marijuana crimes even though U.S. citizens may not even get jail time for some of these crimes. Drug crimes usually make it impossible to avoid deportation. There are only a few limited exceptions to this rule. For example, someone who has been convicted of possessing (not selling) less than 30 grams of marijuana can apply for a waiver. Some waiver cases are granted, but some are denied, so even if an immigrant is eligible to apply under this exception, the immigrant may not get a green card. Also, other immigrants, like our client, who already had a green card for more than 7 years may be eligible to keep their green card if they have a conviction for possessing drugs by applying for what is called cancellation of removal. However, any immigrant convicted of selling any type of drug is usually not legally eligible to apply for cancellation of removal. Our client was convicted of selling marijuana, and when he was first arrested by immigration officers, his family spoke with many lawyers who told him that there was nothing he could do and advised him to just accept a deportation order and be deported as soon as possible. However, these lawyers were not aware of a rare exception under the law that allows certain immigrants who are convicted of selling marijuana to apply for cancellation of removal. The exception is complicated and difficult to understand and is set forth in three different appeals court decisions. The important thing to understand is that sometimes, there is an exception to a rule and lawyers are paid to know these exceptions. If we did not know of this exception, our client might have just given up and been deported. Because the case was complicated, the Immigration Judge denied the case after our first trial, and we had to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. We knew this would take many more months, but our client has a wife and two step children that treat him as their father in the U.S., and he was willing to fight the case as long as it took. After five months, the appeals court issued its decision which agreed with our arguments and overturned the deportation order. The appeals court sent the file back to the Immigration Judge for a new decision and last week, the judge granted our client’s cancellation of removal application, released our client from jail and gave him his green card back. While our client was convicted of selling drugs, he has turned his life around since then. His conviction was when he was 21 years old and he has learned a lot since then. He had completed his high school diploma, started taking college classes, and was a good father to his step-children. Many Americans believe that all immigrants who commit crimes should be deported, but this case is a perfect example of how many immigrants deserve a second chance in life. We are confident that our client will prove to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father, and eventually a good citizen of the U.S.