Spouse’s last-minute naturalization saves the day

Overstayed visit

Our client, Mr. A, is a native of Ghana. He came to the U.S. in 1998 on a visitor visa and overstayed. Mr. A and his wife, a U.S. lawful permanent resident, were riding a bus when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer boarded and began asking passengers about their immigration status. Mr. A admitted that he had overstayed his visa, that his wife had filed an I-130 Immigrant Petition for him, and that he had no other immigration status. Mr. A was arrested and taken into ICE custody. He was released under bond and served with a Motion to Appear (MTA) in deportation proceedings.

Does that sound unfair to you, that an ICE officer can get on a bus and choose passengers based on their race, appearance or accents and begin asking them questions? We thought so. Keep in mind that passengers are unlikely to feel that they are free to leave the bus if they choose, or to decline to speak with the officer. Many immigrants come from countries where random interrogations like this are common and one wouldn’t dare to deny an officer in uniform, but here in the U.S. we like to think that this doesn’t happen…

We notified the immigration judge

That we were preparing to file a Motion to Suppress Mr. A’s statements made on the bus, arguing that Mr. A’s interrogation was unlawful and any answers he gave should not be admitted as evidence against him. The judge refused, saying he would only accept the motion if we also filed an asylum and withholding of removal application. We were reluctant, because Mr. A’s asylum and withholding claims were not very strong. But in order to get the Motion to Suppress across, we did end up filing them.

In the meanwhile, the I-130 Immigrant Petition Mr. A’s wife had filed on his behalf (handled by another attorney) was denied. And then things got interesting. Mr. A’s asylum was also denied, as was his application for withholding of removal. Things were looking grim. How could we keep Mr. A in the country long enough to find a way to get his Green Card? We filed a Second Circuit appeal and a Motion to Reopen on Mr. A’s cases, in an effort to keep him in the country. Attorneys from our office began making phone calls to Mr. A’s deportation officers, pleading with them not to take Mr. A back into custody.

It’s always darkest before the dawn

Our office assisted Mr. A’s wife in obtaining citizenship. Now Mr. A was an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, and could qualify immediately for his Green Card. Last month our opposing counsel in Mr. A’s deportation case let us know that she would not oppose our motion to terminate his proceedings, now that he was eligible to adjust status. Currently, Mr. A’s Green Card application is safely pending. After having been through so much over the past four years, with all the ups and downs and the nonstop struggle just to keep Mr. A in the U.S. and out of ICE detention, it’s nice to sit back with him and wait for his Green Card approval.

Read more of our Deportation Success Stories!