Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC is a full-service immigration law practice that provides legal advice and representation to people and companies in the United States. The firm has over 200 years of combined legal experience among its attorneys and serves its clients from offices in Cleveland, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Columbus, Minneapolis, and Raleigh. Contact us here to schedule a consultation to discuss your needs.
Adjustment of Status in Face of Overwhelming Odds Including Federal Firearms Offense
Our client hired us after being placed in removal proceedings for having been convicted of a federal firearms offense. This was an aggravated felony. Thus, although he had a green card, he was subject to removal due to the aggravated felony conviction. He was also subject to mandatory detention during his removal case. He also had several other criminal convictions, including burglary, assault, and aggravated trespass. Our client’s wife had just adjusted status on the basis of an I-140 petition and we requested that our client be permitted to re-adjust status on the wife’s petition. The issue was that our client could not get an INA Section 212(h) waiver because he entered as an immigrant rather than adjusting status and had been convicted of an aggravated felony. Thus, we had to argue that none of the convictions were a ground of inadmissibility.
We presented a significant amount of evidence in support of the application. We knew that in light of the criminal record, discretion would be a huge issue. We submitted evidence of rehabilitation. The hearing on the application for adjustment of status was in March 2016. We presented the testimony of our witnesses. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Immigration Judge stated that he would grant the case as a matter of discretion but wanted briefs as to whether my client was inadmissible for his criminal record. The big issues were my client’s burglary conviction as well as the aggregate sentences, which were another potential ground of inadmissibility. We convinced the court that none of the other convictions were CIMTs. The IJ ultimately concluded that our client was inadmissible and since he could not get a waiver, he was ineligible for adjustment of status.
We were working with a criminal lawyer in Tennessee at the time try to vacate the old burglary conviction. We assisted him and ultimately he was successful in vacating the conviction and dismissing the case. Our client had been sentenced to 2 years on that conviction so we believed this eliminated both the CIMT issue as well as the issue of the aggregate sentences being 5 years of more.
The conviction was vacated while the case was on appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. We were successful in getting a remand for reconsideration of the adjustment of status application. After remand, we had two additional hearings where we made arguments as to why the case should be granted. In December 2016, the Immigration Judge granted adjustment of status to our client. The case lasted 1 ½ years. Even when it looked bleak, we kept fighting for our client. After being granted adjustment of status, our client flew home to be with his wife and children again. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Family's Adjustment of Status & Alien Worker Petitions Denied; We Took to Court and Won Approvals
Our clients hired us after their adjustment of status applications were denied by USCIS and they were placed in removal proceedings. The adjustment of status applications were based on an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker filed on behalf of the husband as well as INA §245(i) Adjustment of Status. We pursued the adjustment of status applications with the Immigration Court along with documents to support eligibility. There were issues with respect to entry, prior work experience, the current job offer, INA § 245(i) eligibility and the husband’s criminal record. The Court conducted a hearing on the case where detailed testimony was presented as to each of these issues. After hearing testimony and considering the evidence in the case, the Court granted the applications for permanent residence. DHS waived appeal so the Judge’s order is now final. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Citizenship after Motion to Vacate
Our client, a woman from Lebanon who we’ll refer to as Ms. G, first sought our legal advice in 2009 regarding a criminal issue. Ms. G was a legal permanent resident who had been arrested for theft and had a prior criminal conviction for petty theft. The criminal attorney hired by Ms. G was able to get the theft charge lowered to aggressive trespassing. It was important to negotiate the plea for a lesser charge since a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) can make an immigrant in the US ineligible for citizenship.
We advised Ms. G that it would be fight to get her naturalization approved but we could try because we did not believe that her theft offense constituted a CIMT. While Ms. G passed the English and Civics portions of the naturalization test and the officer interviewing her recommended that her application should be granted, Ms. G’s N-400 was ultimately denied by USCIS because of the criminal issues. We filed an N-336 to appeal the denial. We helped Ms. G write an affidavit and to gather documents for the N-336 interview. Unfortunately, Ms. G’s appeal was denied.
Our next step was to file a motion to vacate plea for her first petty theft conviction. We did this because we wanted to change Ms. G’s first guilty plea to a lesser charge which would improve her chances of being approved for naturalization. We were successful and her charge was changed to disorderly conduct. We explained the legal ramifications to Ms. G and told her that she would be able to travel. We also explained that she would be eligible for citizenship in 2013.
In 2014 Ms. G contacted us again to help her with her naturalization application. Since we vacated her earlier conviction in 2010, the naturalization process was much smoother. We filed the N-400, prepared her for the interview and attended the interview with her. Ms. G’s N-400 was approved and she became a citizen in February 2015. Ms. G is extremely happy and very appreciative of all the counseling and preparation provided to her by the staff and attorneys at Margaret W. Wong & Associates.
Legal Permanent Resident Granted 212(h) Waiver
Our client hired us after he was stopped by immigration officials while attempting to enter the United States. He is a lawful permanent resident. However, immigration officials determined he was inadmissible due to multiple convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude. We applied for a stand-alone waiver under INA Section 212(h). Since he was an arriving alien, we did not have to also file a separate adjustment of status application. We also worked with our client to submit supporting documentation. His waiver application was heard by an Immigration Judge in Minnesota in June 2014. At the conclusion of testimony, the Immigration Judge granted the 212(h) waiver. This will allow our client to continue to be with his daughter in the United States. He can also apply for citizenship. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Cancellation of Removal after Naturalization was Denied
Our client hired us after he was detained when his naturalization application was denied. He was placed in removal proceedings. Our client had multiple drug convictions as well as numerous other criminal convictions. He was subject to mandatory detention during his removal proceedings. We filed an application for cancellation of removal with the Immigration Judge. We gathered a significant amount of documentation to support the application. After hearing testimony on the case and considering the evidence we submitted, the Immigration Judge granted cancellation of removal. Our client was released from ICE custody that same day. The case only took about one month from the date we were hired until the date the Court granted the case in May 2014. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Drug Conviction Vacated and Green Card Approved
When our client hired us in 2009 he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston, Texas due to a drug conviction. At the time, he was not eligible for bond and was in removal proceedings. We were able to work with a Houston lawyer to help him vacate his drug case and enter a new plea to a charge that arguably was not a crime involving moral turpitude. We then requested a bond hearing with the Immigration Judge and were able to obtain bond.Unfortunately, after our client was released he was arrested and charged with several felonies and a misdemeanor DUI. We worked closely with his criminal attorney in Texas to try to obtain a beneficial plea deal. Ultimately we were able to come up with a plea deal to two misdemeanors that arguably were not crimes involving moral turpitude.
Soon thereafter, our client married a United States citizen. The plan was then to apply for adjustment of status and argue that no waivers were needed for these criminal cases or for a prior case (there were 4 convictions total). We were able to quickly get an I-130 approval and filed our application for adjustment of status. We filed an extensive pre-hearing brief arguing that our client had not been convicted of any crimes involving moral turpitude. We also filed extensive documentation to establish our client warranted adjustment of status as a matter of discretion. In April 2014, the Immigration Judge heard the case and granted our client’s application for adjustment of status. Our office was commended for our thorough preparation and filings. Our client has finally realized his dream of becoming a lawful permanent resident. Although his case looked bleak at the time we were retained, we were able to help our client obtain his dream through hard work. The case also shows the importance of having an experienced immigration lawyer working with immigration counsel to craft a plea in a manner that avoids adverse immigration consequences. Scott Bratton handled the case for our office.
Charges Reduced to Misdemeanor Charge, Alien Able to Leave US, Neither Deportable Nor Removable
Client is a 22 year old man from China who entered the U.S. on an F1 student visa to pursue his studies. He recently graduated with a B.S. from Cleveland State University and started OPT. His proud parents visited from China so they could attend graduation. While they were visiting, the client and his girlfriend got into an argument that resulted in the client being charged with domestic violence. The parents stayed in the U.S. to help support their son during this difficult time. After multiple pre-trial conferences with the prosecutor, we were able to negotiate a resolution whereby the client pled guilty to disorderly conduct. The client did not have to serve any jail time, rather, he completed a mental health evaluation with a Chinese speaking therapist who did not recommend any further treatment. Within two weeks of sentencing, he was discharged from probation and was able to leave the U.S. with his parents, which was his wish. What could have been a very serious criminal conviction turned out to be a low-level misdemeanor that did not make the client deportable or removable. If this client wishes to return to the U.S. in the future, he should not be denied entry or deemed to be inadmissible because of this conviction.
Driving Without a License – Case Dismissed and No Deportation Proceedings
Client is from the Dominican Republic and has lived in the U.S. since 2002. In 2012, she was stopped by a police officer and ticketed for driving without a license and failing to yield. After negotiating with the prosecutor, we resolved the case by dismissing the driving without a license charge in exchange for a plea to failing to yield, a minor misdemeanor, carrying a fine of only $200. The client never had to go before the judge and the case was handled administratively. The client was never placed into removal proceedings despite having no immigration status.
Multiple felonies – alien eligible to get US Citizenship
Our client was convicted in state court of multiple felonies in 1991. Although he was granted a waiver for these cases in Immigration Court, he was unable to naturalize because they were considered to be aggravated felonies. We filed a motion to vacate in state court alleging that neither the court nor our client’s attorney informed him of the adverse immigration consequences of his plea. At his hearing on the motion, the court found that the motion should be granted and vacated the aggravated felony convictions. We negotiated a plea to one misdemeanor that will not have immigration consequences. Our client is now eligible to naturalize. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Cash Smuggler, Returns to Gambia and Can Re-apply for Admission
A man from Guinea was convicted of bulk cash smuggling and put in prison for six months when he attempted to enter the U.S. in November. Near the end of his sentence, ICE served him a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) charging him with removability for a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMT”). His sister hired us to help him get bond and return to Guinea. However, because he was an arriving alien, he was not eligible for bond or voluntary departure. This meant that he would sit in jail possibly for months waiting for an immigration hearing. If ordered removed, he would not be able to return to the U.S. for ten years. We pushed the Immigration Court for an early bond hearing, briefed the Immigration Judge on why we believed our client’s crime was not a CIMT, and negotiated with ICE to allow our client to return immediately to his country without any immigration consequences. The judge agreed with us, and ICE allowed our client to return to Gambia. ICE honored our agreement and filed a Motion to Terminate all proceedings with the Court. Our client is home with his family in Gambia, and he has no bar to returning to the U.S. as a visitor or immigrant in the future.
Indian Man with Criminal Past Wins Green Card
In March 2011, we were retained by a client from India who wanted to obtain his Green Card as well as resolve his old criminal issues. He arrived in India in 2001 without documents and informed customs officials he was afraid to return to India. He passed a credible fear interview and was paroled into the United States as an arriving alien. Nevertheless, he was ordered removed from the United States in 2003. He ran into some problems and had two DUIs, which could affect his case. Since then, he cleaned himself up, went to AA, and did community service. He also married a United States Citizen and had two children. In mid-March, we filed an I-130 Petition on behalf of his wife as well as I-485 Application to Adjust Status and I-765 Application for Work Authorization. Before his interview, we filed a Motion to Reopen and a Motion to Stay Deportation so that our client would not be detained at his interview. His interview, attended by Attorney Scott Bratton, was in July and our client was placed on an Order of Supervision with ICE. The criminal history was no issue at the interview due to the ample documentation we provided showing he was a person of good moral character. A few days later, we received notice that his Motion to Reopen was denied by the Immigration Judge. Less than one month later we appealed the denial to the Board of Immigration Appeals. A brief was timely filed in early October. In November, we received an RFE for the client’s Green Card application. This was responded to within two weeks. After numerous inquiries about the I-485 application, we received an approval notice in early February 2012. Our client is very happy to now have his 10 year Green Card and to be removed from his Order of Supervision. Our office is currently working on a Motion to Terminate Removal Proceedings as a last step. Attorney Scott Bratton handled the case.
South African Wins Legal Permanent Residency
One of our clients, a national of South Africa and a resident of Florida married a United States Citizen. The United States Citizen was charged and convicted of a crime that precluded him from petitioning for an alien relative. Our team went to work to assist him in overcoming what is called the Adam Walsh Act bar for petitioners of alien relatives. One of our attorneys attended the interview and convinced the officer and presented evidence that the Petitioner posed no risk to the Beneficiary. The application was pending for well over two years. Attorney contacted the USCIS office in Florida (Jacksonville) where this case was pending to try to push them along. Our office also contacted members of Congress to push the USCIS to adjudicate this application and visa petition. Our Attorney started pushing the USCIS in April 2010, and the case was finally approved on July 27, 2010! Our client is now a legal permanent resident.
Alcoholic From Ghana Overcomes Troubled Past and is Granted a Green Card
It is so often the case in life that mistakes made in our pasts can reappear to haunt us once again, and jeopardize everything we have worked so hard to accomplish. For an immigrant, the reality of such a concept coming to fruition is a fear that others can seldom fathom, and one of our Ghanaian clients now fully realizes the power our past can command over our future.
Our client was arrested for DUI, and was able to be released on a substantial bond from ICE. He was then sentenced to appear before the IJ, in regards to his deportation case. Our client had come to this country from Ghana and subsequently fell in love with his now wife of 5 years. Our client has had several DUI cases in the past and identifies himself as an alcoholic. Despite having all of the charges dropped in his past cases, this latest arrest had spurred the Department of Homeland Security to take action and petition for his deportation. According to numerous testimonies from his wife, his father-in-law, his AA sponsor, and his congregation our client was a man whose alcoholic tendencies overshadowed his moral turpitude and work ethic. He was gainfully employed and frequently attended AA meetings in order to take the necessary steps to combat his disease. With what little time he had left, he would volunteer his services to his father-in-law, helping him with his home repair business, as well as help other recovering alcoholics through the treatment process. His wife loved him very much and was the most devastated by the thought of her husband being forced to leave the country. As the possibility of her husband’s deportation loomed, she began to show signs of extreme depression and anxiety, which ultimately compelled her husband to take action and seek professional help for his ailing wife.
Taking all of this into consideration, we did our very best to demonstrate to the IJ that the man whose past was littered with DUI’s and such on paper, was not the man standing before the court today. There was more to our client than what was simply written down, and that to deport him would affect not only his spouse, but the lives of many other people who consider him to be an upstanding figure in the community, worthy of being allowed to stay here with the woman he loves so dearly. Through our combined efforts, we were able to secure a permanent Green Card for our client and prevented a wife from losing a husband, a father from losing his son-in-law, and a community from losing a respectable member.
Man With a Green Card is Wrongfully Detained
It is so rewarding when, after talking to a desperate family so many times, we are finally able to break the good news: “your husband will be released from jail today”. We know the impact of the announcement, and we feel so much joy for the family. Our client and his family had Green Cards. The last time he traveled, upon returning from Mexico they detained him because he had pled guilty of a criminal charge in a Municipal Court more than 10 years before. His detention was a mistake for many reasons: he was an arriving alien with a Green Card who met certain exceptions, so he could have been called to Court while not detained. Also when he pled guilty, he had not been informed about the legal consequences of his plea. In fact he thought it was a minor charge and did not feel guilty at all, but was told this was what he could do to terminate the case.
The family hired us when he was in jail. We immediately filed Habeas Corpus and a release request. We also asked for cancellation of removal, since they had ordered his deportation. We followed up constantly and we went back to the Municipal Court where we asked for a copy of his transcript and filed a Motion to Vacate the guilty plea. We submitted the right evidence to the Immigration Judge about his moral character and his criminal case. A hearing was scheduled for July 22, 2008 and we prepared the client over the phone and the family in our offices. During the hearing we were able to present the case as it was and the Judge agreed that if the criminal case was terminated he would not object to terminate removal proceedings. We attended a hearing in the Municipal Court and were able to have them Vacate the guilty plea, and the criminal case was dismissed. We submitted this decision to the Immigration Judge, who after obtaining an opinion from DHS, finally granted the Motion to Terminate Removal Proceedings. This decision was issued in August 21, 2008. On the same day we requested his immediate release by fax, phone, letter and were able to get an answer from the officer: Our client would be released that same day! That is when we called the family to give the good news and they were very grateful. Our client was so grateful that he gave us more work: “Please help me recover the Green Card and passport that were confiscated.” We did, of course. Scott Bratton handled this case with help of our other attorneys.
Lawful Permanent Resident is Released From ICE Custody
Our client, who was a lawful permanent resident, hired us in May 2008 when he was concluding his federal criminal sentence for four fraud offenses. His convictions were aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. Upon completion of his sentence, he was placed in removal proceedings and transferred to Oakdale, Louisiana. He was in mandatory detention due to the criminal convictions. Our defense to removal was that we would apply to re-adjust status with a waiver under INA Section 212(h). He was eligible for 212(h) despite the aggravated felony because he adjusted status after a lawful admission as a visitor. The adjustment application would be based on our client’s marriage to a United States citizen. We first filed the I-130 petition. The petition was finally approved in 2009. We then filed the adjustment of status application with the Court. The hearing was conducted in January 2010 and consisted of the testimony of our client, his wife, and an expert witness. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge stated he needed more time to issue a decision. We then filed a closing brief with the Court. In April 2010, the Immigration Judge announced his decision. He granted the application for adjustment of status and the 212(h) waiver. Our client was released from ICE custody the next day. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Man is Ordered Removed, Able to Pursue a 212(h) Waiver
Our client was ordered removed based on 6 criminal convictions that are considered crimes involving moral turpitude. He was found ineligible for any relief because one of the convictions was an aggravated felony. Thus, despite the fact he has been in the United States for approximately 30 years, he had no basis to challenge his removal. Additionally, he had previously filed 4 motions to reopen that were denied. We were retained and we worked with a Texas criminal attorney on a post-conviction motion for the aggravated felony conviction. The Texas criminal court granted the motion and in an order stated both that the original sentence should have been less than one year and that the plea was unknowing and involuntary. We then filed a motion to reopen sua sponte with the Board arguing that since he is no longer convicted of an aggravated felony, he is eligible for a 212(h) waiver as a returning lawful permanent resident. We submitted the application and proof of hardship to our client’s wife in the case that he is deported. DHS opposed the motion. In January 2010, the Board reopened our client’s case. He will now be able to pursue a 212(h) waiver. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Pakistani National Overcomes Criminal Charges, Now Hoping to Apply for Citizenship
One of our clients, a Pakistani National, was charged with aggravated theft back in 2002. This charge has serious immigration consequences as such can render a permanent resident inadmissible and deportable. Hence if this person was to leave the country they may not be permitted to re-enter. Attorney Scott Bratton filed a motion to vacate our client’s plea based upon careful study of the transcripts. The advisement that this person was not an American Citizen and a foreign national upon entering a plea to a criminal charge may be found excludable, inadmissible and/or deportable. That advisement, required by Ohio Law was not read to our client back in 2002 and our client’s constitutional rights were violated. Attorney Bratton attended the hearing on the vacating of the plea, and convinced the Judge that this was in the best interests of justice and the Judge agreed to vacate the plea. Upon vacating the plea, we then negotiated a better plea deal from a Felony charge to a Misdemeanor charge for our client. Rather than going to trial, our client agreed to the plea deal, and this plea deal and subsequent criminal conviction does not have any immigration consequences. Our client is now wishing to apply for citizenship.
Court Agrees Our Client’s Sentence Improper
In a recent criminal appeal to the Eighth District Court of Appeals, the Court reversed the decision of the lower Court and remanded the case for re-sentencing. The Court agreed with us that the sentence was improper under Ohio law.
Client Deemed Inadmissable by the US Gains Relief Forms
Our client had a 1996 theft conviction that is considered an aggravated felony. However, she was able to depart and re-enter the United States on several occasions after she was convicted. In June 2009, she was stopped by ICE and found to be inadmissible when returning from a trip abroad. She was placed in removal proceedings. We then filed a Motion to Vacate her plea under R.C. Section 2943.031. The State opposed the Motion. In October 2009, the Judge scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the matter. After hearing the evidence and arguments, the plea 13-year old plea was vacated. We can now move to terminate removal proceedings. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Our client retained us after he was placed in removal proceedings for a controlled substance conviction. He was not eligible for bond due to his conviction. We worked closely with his criminal attorney in Texas and were able to vacate his plea. We then filed a request for bond with the Court. After filing several briefs on the legal issues involved with the vacating of the conviction and our client’s bond eligibility, the Court held a hearing on the bond. Over DHS objection, the Judge granted a bond. Our client has been released on bond and is now eligible to apply for several forms of relief from removal. Scott Bratton handled the case.
Client About to be Deported for Drug Possession Gets Prosecution Charges Shrunk and Evades Eviction
One of our clients, a Lebanese national, was convicted of Cocaine Possession and drug abuse in the mid 1990’s. Our client served 2 years of probation and successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, he did not have counsel at the time and he was not read his the advisement under Ohio Law which if read, he would have been advised of the immigration consequences rendering him possibly inadmissible and/or deportable. Our team was able to get his plea vacated this year after our team was successfully at winning this matter on appeal! Our Attorney was able to negotiate with the prosecutor a reduction of two Felony charges down to one M4 for Disorderly conduct which does not have any immigration consequences by itself. Our client accepted and avoided going to trial once again and risk being charged with two felonies!
Egyptian Woman’s Charges Reduced to Have No Immigration Consequences
Our client from Egypt initially retained us to assist her criminal attorney in Alabama regarding a theft charge that was pending against her. The original charge in Alabama was considered an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. Through our efforts, we were able to assist the client in obtaining a judgment that had no immigration consequences. Subsequently, our client retained us to assist with her I-485 application. After attending the I-485 interview with our client, her application for permanent residence was approved.
Traffic Violations Dismissed
Our client from El Salvador retained us after being charged with the traffic violations of No Operator’s License, Speeding, and Obstruction of Plates. All charges were eventually dismissed against our client.
Criminal Issues and Other Allegations Found Factually and Legally Incorrect
Our client came to us after USCIS denied his adjustment of status application. It was denied due to criminal issues and the alleged failure to provide accurate information on immigration forms. We filed a motion to reopen/reconsider with USCIS. We argued that the decision was factually and legally incorrect. After another interview, we were able to get the case approved in April 2008. Attorney Scott Bratton handled the case and attended the interview.
Some Charges Reduced and Other Charges Dismissed
When our client retained us, he was subject to mandatory detention and was in the custody of immigration for having been convicted of two crimes involving moral turpitude. Our office vacated his guilty plea for a felony Theft offense, thereby, leaving our client with only one other conviction and allowing him to be released pursuant to a bond in removal proceedings. Our firm then represented our client as he was re-tried on the original Breaking and Entering and Theft charges. Our firm was able to work out a favorable plea arrangement, wherein, our client pled to a charge of Possession of Criminal Tools and the Breaking and Entering charge was dismissed.
Conviction of Crime Involving Moral Turpitude Overturned
When our client retained us, he had been placed in removal proceedings when he came back to the United States based on a felony burglary conviction. Our client is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. However, the Department of Homeland Security alleged that he was inadmissible because his burglary conviction was a crime involving moral turpitude. We filed a Motion to Terminate proceedings arguing that our client was not inadmissible. We argued that his conviction was not a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude. In March 2007, the Immigration Judge issued a written decision terminating proceedings. Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong & Associates.
Mandamus Compels USCIS to Complete Processing Adjustment of Status
In October 2006, our office was retained to file a mandamus action in federal court to compel CIS to issue a decision on our clients’ I-130 petition and the I-485 application. Within 3 weeks of filing, the I-130 petition was approved and our client was granted adjustment of status. Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong & Associates.
Of Two Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude, One Dismissed, and Mandatory Detention Reduced to Bond
When our client retained our office, he was subject to mandatory detention due to two criminal convictions that were considered crimes involving moral turpitude. He was transferred to the detention facility in Oakdale, Louisiana. Our office was successfully able to vacated one of the criminal convictions. We then requested a bond hearing with the Immigration Judge arguing that our client was no longer subject to mandatory detention and that a bond should be set. After considering our lengthy brief on the issue and hearing arguments, the Court concluded that our client was eligible for a bond and that a bond should be set. A bond was set and our client was released, which allowed him to rejoin his family in Cleveland, Ohio. Attorney Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong & Associates.
Firm Gets Theft Trial Dismissed for Client
Our client, who was in the middle of Cancellation of Removal proceedings for prior criminal convictions, was charged with theft after allegedly stealing merchandise from a department store. After two pre-trials failed to result in a resolution favorable to our client, our office set the case for a jury trial. One week prior to the case proceeding to trial, the prosecution agreed to dismiss the case against our client.
Criminal Offense Rendering Client Inadmissable Gets Case Relief
Our office was retained by Mr. Li after he had filed his I-485 application. CIS had requested that he file a waiver because he had a criminal conviction that made him inadmissible to the United States. When we took over the case from the former attorney, we obtained all the criminal records. Our office then responded to the request for a waiver. We argued that no waiver was necessary for two reasons: (1) our client had not been convicted as the term is defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act because he did not enter a guilty or no contest plea or admit the facts that would constitute a criminal offense; and (2) even if he was convicted, he was not inadmissible as he fell within the petty offense exception. After considering our response, adjustment of status was granted by CIS. Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong and Associates.
Weapons Charge Endangering Residency Gets Removed
Client retained our firm after he was put in removal proceedings for a conviction on a weapons charge shortly after he became a lawful permanent resident. We applied for cancellation of removal before the Immigration Judge. Our office successfully argued that our client was statutorily eligible for cancellation of removal despite the timing of his prior conviction. In January 2006, the Immigration Judge granted cancellation of removal. Our client is eligible to remain living in the United States as a permanent resident and will later be applying for citizenship. Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong and Associates.
Naturalization Admitted After Criminal History Dismissed
When our client retained Margaret Wong & Associates, he wanted to apply for naturalization. However, he had a prior criminal conviction that subjected him to deportation. We immediately filed a motion to vacate the criminal conviction. The motion was granted and the criminal conviction was vacated as the criminal court failed to advise our client of the potential immigration consequences of his guilty plea as required by statute. The original criminal charges were then dismissed. We subsequently filed a naturalization application on behalf of our client. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) advised us that they intended to deny the application because our client was subject to deportation because the vacated conviction could still be used for immigration purposes. We filed a comprehensive response arguing that CIS’ position was wrong and that our client should be granted naturalization. After considering our response, CIS granted the naturalization application. Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong & Associates.
Permanent Residency Retained After Threat from Substance Abuse Charges
Our client retained our firm after he was detained by DHS for being convicted of multiple controlled substance offenses. He was in removal proceedings due to his criminal convictions. Our office requested cancellation of removal and asked the Immigration Court to grant an expedited hearing. Within two weeks of being retained, we were able to convince the Immigration Judge to grant cancellation of removal. Our client was immediately released from DHS custody and is permitted to continue residing in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Scott Bratton represented our client in this matter.
DHS Release Expedited by Firm
We were hired by a client who was in DHS custody and not eligible for bond due to three criminal convictions. Our client was in removal proceedings due to the criminal convictions. Our office requested an expedited hearing and requested cancellation of removal. After a hearing on the cancellation of removal application, the Immigration Judge granted cancellation of removal. Our client was immediately released from DHS custody and is permitted to remain in the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Scott Bratton represented our client in this matter.
Firearm Accusations Removed for Client
Our client was charged with the criminal offense of menacing for allegedly threatening the manager of a retail establishment with a firearm. The case proceeded to trial, wherein, testimony was taken from the State’s witnesses as well as our client. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge found our client not guilty.
Drug Abuse Accusations Removed With Client Gaining Lawful Permanent Residency
The client, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, retained our office after being placed in removal proceedings in 2002. Immigration and Customs enforcement argued that our client was subject to mandatory detention having been convicted of Drug Abuse and two counts of Drug Trafficking, thereby, revoking her status of lawful permanent resident. Our office filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio obtaining a ruling from the District Court granting our client a bond hearing, whereupon, our client was given bond and, ultimately, released from jail. Subsequently, our office also represented the client in removal proceedings.
Our client requested Withholding of Removal as relief. The Immigration Judge initially stated our client was not eligible for Withholding of Removal having committed a Particularly Serious Crime based on our client’s drug convictions. Our office argued that our client met the requirements for the extremely narrow exception to having committed a Particularly Serious Crime. Ultimately, our office was successful in obtaining a ruling from the Immigration Judge re-adjusting our client to the status of lawful permanent resident in the United States based on humanitarian grounds.
Past Drug Trafficking Conviction Ignored for Immigration Proceedings an is Removed from Custody
When he retained Margaret Wong & Associates, our client had been convicted of drug trafficking and was in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. Our office filed a Motion to Vacate his drug trafficking conviction, which was granted by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. We also filed a Motion to Reopen to Terminate Proceedings (since the BIA had already denied his appeal) and an Emergency Request for a Stay of Removal due to the fact that our client was going to be deported within the next 24-48 hours. The Board reopened the case, granted the stay, and remanded the case to the Immigration Judge for argument on whether proceedings should be terminated. Our office filed a detailed brief arguing that proceedings must be terminated as his conviction was vacated and can no longer be used for immigration purposes. The Immigration Judge agreed and terminated proceedings. Our client has since been released from custody. Scott Bratton handled the case for Margaret Wong & Associates.
Client Receives Asylum to Combat Previous Convictions
When Margaret Wong’s office was retained, our client was in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security due to his criminal record. Our client was in removal proceedings due to his convictions. We filed an I-589 claiming our client feared returning to Iraq where he had been previously persecuted. The Immigration Judge granted withholding of removal to Iraq and our client was released from jail. Scott Bratton handled this case.
Precedent-Setting Liao v. Rabbett Expands Class of Foreign Born Who Can Apply for Cancellation of Removal
Scott Bratton handled this case for Margaret Wong and Associates. In Liao v. Rabbett, No. 03-4541 (6th Cir. Feb. 7, 2005), the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals was presented with the question of whether an Ohio fifth-degree felony drug possession conviction was an aggravated felony. The appeal came to the Sixth Circuit after Mr. Bratton was successful in federal district court in challenging the Board’s finding that Liao’s conviction was an aggravated felony. The Government appealed alleging that Liao’s possession of heroin conviction, a fifth-degree felony in the State of Ohio, was an aggravated felony. The Sixth Circuit agreed with Mr. Bratton’s argument that the conviction was not an aggravated felony because the maximum term of imprisonment for the offense was one year, taking it out of the federal felony classification since a felony under federal law is punishable by more than one year.
The importance of this case is that it expands the class of aliens who can apply for cancellation of removal. After 2002, the Board of Immigration Appeals had taken the position that any state felony drug possession offense was an aggravated felony. Liao and many of our clients who were previously not eligible for cancellation of removal based on their Ohio fifth-degree felony drug possession convictions will now be eligible to apply for cancellation of removal. A grant of cancellation of removal allows an individual to consider residing in the United States as a lawful permanent resident. The case will also allow those who were previously precluded from applying for asylum or naturalization based on their Ohio fifth-degree felony drug convictions to now apply for those benefits. If you have any questions about how the Liao decision might impact your case, contact Scott Bratton at 216-566-9908.
Withholding of Removal Granted Due to Abusive Father
Our client retained our office after being placed in removal proceedings for a criminal conviction. We applied for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture, arguing that he feared returning due to his abusive father. The Judge concluded that we established past persecution based on prior domestic violence and that there had not been a fundamental change in circumstances such that his life or freedom would no longer be threatened on one of the protected grounds. The Court concluded that the government was unwilling and/or unable to control our client’s father. Additionally, the Judge concluded that internal relocation was not reasonable. Accordingly, the Immigration Judge granted withholding of removal. Scott Bratton represented our client.
Client Charged, But Granted Withholding of Removal
Our client was placed in removal proceedings due to multiple criminal convictions, including one conviction classified as an aggravated felony. He was subject to mandatory detention. At his individual hearing, our client was granted withholding of removal. He was subsequently released from ICE custody. He can remain in the United States with his family. Scott Bratton represented our client in this matter.
Denied N-400 Re-Filed, Naturalization Ceremony Scheduled
Our client hired us after his N-400 was denied due to a prior criminal conviction. Our office re-filed the N-400 and, after being interviewed on the application, the N-400 was approved and a date was set for swearing-in ceremony.
Son Borrows Car Without Dad’s Permission — Dad Not Guilty
Our client is a working family man whose son borrowed his automobile without permission. The son was involved in an auto accident in which no one was injured. He was charged in juvenile court with driving without a license and failure to control. Our client was charged in municipal court with negligently entrusting his automobile to his son. The son admitted in court that he took his father’s automobile without his father’s knowledge, and our client denied that he knew his son took his automobile. The prosecution agreed with our client and dismissed the criminal case against him.
Student from India Found Not Guilty of Criminal Charges, May Continue Pursuing His Citizenship
Our client, who was born in India, was charged with misdemeanor assault. He is a young 22-year-old senior student at a local university in Cleveland, Ohio. He works part-time at a popular Indian restaurant. In spite of pressure to plead guilty to a lesser charge in plea bargaining, our client stood steadfast and wanted a trial in the hopes of a verdict of not guilty. Seven months after the alleged incident, our client had his day in Court and proceeded to trial before a Municipal Court Judge. After 3 witnesses testified against him and after he testified in his own defense, the judge found him not guilty of the charge. For the first time in 7 months, our client was able to smile and be relieved that his quest to become a U.S. citizen will not be hindered by a wrongful criminal conviction. After the verdict, our client was quick to acknowledge the support and belief of Margaret W. Wong who was 100% behind him in his assertion of innocence.
Jamaican Tourist Acquitted of Drug Charges
The office of Margaret W. Wong & Associates represented T.G., a Jamaican citizen, who was arrested toward the end of a 30 day tourist visa and charged with Drug Trafficking in 20 kilograms of marijuana, possession of marijuana (Schedule I controlled substance) and possession of criminal tools to use to traffic in drugs. Because the trafficking count of the indictment allegedly occurred within 1000 feet of a school, the mandatory period of incarceration was 10 years upon conviction.
Three other Jamaicans were also charged; Margaret Wong & Associates did not represent any of the other three. The trial began with one of the 4 Jamaican defendants stating under oath before the trial judge that he was only 17 years old. His sister also testified that he was 17. The trial court ordered him transferred to juvenile court. But the next day at 7 A.M. the prosecution and police executed a search warrant at the sister’s house and found his passport which showed he was in fact an adult (19 years old). The trial court vacated its entry transferring that defendant’s case to juvenile court and that defendant then made a plea bargain with the prosecution to testify against the 3 remaining co-defendants and receive a sentence of 6 years in jail.
Simultaneously with the plea bargain, the 3 remaining defendant’s were in the process of selecting a jury when one of the defendant’s executed a jury waiver and was tried before the trial judge while the other 2 defendants were tried before a jury in the same proceeding with the same trial judge.
At the end of the state’s case, all 3 defendants made a motion for a judgment of acquittal. The trial judge granted the acquittal motion of the defendant who waived a jury and denied the same motion of the other 2 defendants (one being T.G.). The remaining 2 defendants presented no witnesses and did not testify. The state presented 17 witnesses and approximately 50 separate exhibits.
After 2 weeks of trial, the jury deliberated less than 2 hours and found T.G. not guilty of all 3 charges and the other defendant guilty of all 3 charges. T.G.’s alleged association with the defendant who was found guilty and T.G.’s presence in the house where the 20 kilograms of marijuana were found on the day of arrest did not sway the jury that T.G. knowingly participated in drug trafficking.