Coming to America and First Steps
Our client came to the U.S. from Gujarat, India, by way of Canada with her boyfriend. She was pregnant. Soon after arriving in the U.S., her boyfriend abandoned her. She was afraid and full of shame. Shortly after she giving birth, she received a notice of an immigration hearing. She didn’t see the notice and missed the telephone hearing. An Immigration Judge ordered her removed In Absentia. She came to Margaret W. Wong & Associates for help. We filed a Motion to Reopen (MTR) for her, which was granted soon after we filed.
Our client’s strongest asset was her family. Her brother, nephew and aunt helped immensely with telephone calls, fees, and arranging meetings. Government errors also worked in her favor, although that was just luck. It rarely happens twice in one case. We learned almost too late that the Master Calendar hearing judge doesn’t do telephonic hearings. Our attorney tried to fly there, but snow storms kept the planes grounded. Luckily, the client went to the Master Calendar hearing, which was rescheduled for the spring.
We got to the courtroom in the spring, and a different judge was there. We tried to argue that she had not received her Notice to Appear (NTA) but the DHS attorney made an oral motion to amend, and the Immigration Judge accepted. Because of this, we had to change tactics. We filed an I-589 application for Asylum and the Individual Hearing (IH) was set. A week after the hearing, our client’s nephew came up with new information – he is actually our client’s son. He asked if he could file an I-130, a Green Card petition for an “alien relative.” Normally this would be useful, but, because our client was undocumented, asylum was still the best option. This new information required us to update our I-589.
Asylum Hearing and Green Card
We worked tirelessly with the client’s family to make sure all documents were in place by the Individual Hearing (IH). The woman’s principal fear emerged during this time: she feared an honor-killing due to being abandoned prior to marriage and giving birth out of wedlock. We studied the prevalence of this practice and gathered evidence. We felt our client had a good case for Prosecutorial Discretion (PD), which is when the prosecutor drops the case. This can save a lot of time for the government by not having to go through the hearing. Unfortunately, to government did not offer PD and the hearing went ahead. At the hearing, we argued on our clients behalf. With all of our documentation and preparation, the Immigration Judge granted asylum.
One year later, we filed the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Status. After going to her fingerprinting appointment, she received her Green Card only six weeks after we filed the application for her. After a long and arduous journey from her homeland and through the American immigration system, we are incredibly happy to see our client living permanently in the United States. Likewise, she is extremely grateful to the staff and attorneys at Margaret W. Wong and associates for their relentless advocacy and constant guidance throughout the course of the case.