(Paul Choi is an immigration attorney and professor of law located at 16000 Ventura Blvd. Ste 1201, Encino, CA. 91436.Â AttyÂ Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free. Address questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 818 714-2226.Â Atty Choiâ€™sÂ administrator is Philip Abramowitz and his paralegal is Genny Go.)
QUESTION: I have been in the U.S. for over ten years already.Â Back in 2004 some friend told me he could help me get a work permit and I paid him five thousand dollars to help me. I did not realize that what he was doing was preparing a fake asylum application for me and signing my name to it. I surely received my work permit as he promised but then I received an interview for political asylum at the INS office. I was scared and did not appear.Â Then a few weeks later I received a notice for a deportation hearing. I was so scared of being deported that I did not appear at the court. Later I received a deportation notice for not appearing. Since that time I have been hiding and changed my address. I am now married to a U.S. citizen and have a child with her. I heard about the new law for persons with deportation that President Obama announced. Can I have my case opened now and dismissed and can I get my greencard? How much will it cost?
Answer:Â Since the President announced a new deportation policy this month my phones have been busy with persons asking questions about how they can get work permits or get permanent residence under this new law.Â There is apparently a lot of confusion and many people think this new policy is some type of amnesty. It is not.
Because it has been reported that employment authorization may also be provided those in the U.S. in unlawful status want to apply for this â€œwork permitâ€.
It must be understood that there is no new law. Only Congress may enact or change the law. The only thing that is different is a new policy. This policy is based on the discretionary authority that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have. This is nothing new except that specific guidelines have been provided in the June 17, 2011 memo from the John Morton, Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detailing how the discretion to deport or not deport a person from the U.S. will be applied.Â The Government has always had this discretion and a knowledgeable and effective lawyer can sometimes utilize this to help his clients. We have been doing this for months already by requesting the ICE attorney to join in either reopening a case in which a client has already been ordered deported or in dismissing an ongoing case due to the governmentâ€™s â€œprosecutorial discretion.â€ Now what we have been doing for months is out of the bag.
My immediate concern is that immigrants are now ripe for victimization by notaries and unscrupulous or inexperienced immigration attorneys who will see it as an opportunity to charge fees for a non-existent benefit.
The ICE memo did not mention employment authorization. That benefit appeared only as a quote of an unidentified agency official who volunteered that the new approach â€œ… will not give illegal immigrants a path to legal permanent residency, but will let them apply for a work permit.â€
The reason for the change in policy is that ICE lacks the resources to arrest, detain, and remove all those who are in the U.S. in unlawful status. As a consequence, it will be focusing on a select group. The starting point will be some 300,000 cases that are already clogging the courts, awaiting removal hearings.
Under the policy guidelines, persons who are in deportation proceedings who are not criminals may seek dismissal of their cases depending upon their equities and the reasons they are illegal. Persons who have lived here a long time, have U.S. citizen children or have parents or other relatives who are lawfully present here may be able to seek relief in the courts.
What cannot be recommended is that a person who has not come to the attention of immigration, appear at the office or file for employment authorization. That is likely to accomplish nothing more than assure that all the applicantâ€™s information becomes part of the governmentâ€™s data base. On the other hand, if as person is already in the system, awaiting a court hearing, or even has already been ordered deported he or she should consult an experienced immigration attorney to help present a detailed picture of the case, arguing why prosecutorial discretion should be exercised to grant relief, reopen or dismiss the proceedings.
(Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration for FREE. Contact him at pchoi @pchoilaw.com or at 818 714-2226.Â As always, consultations in office are still FREE) â–