Certain times in life you can feel very good about yourself especially as a lawyer. Today, I was overjoyed that we won the case of a Palestinian client (“Client”) who came to the United States 5 years ago and went through a very difficult path. Today when the immigration judge granted the case, Client told me it was the most beautiful gift he has ever received.
On around, July 2006, Client was coming back to the United States, with the intention of filing an asylum because of the torture and other atrocities he suffered in the hands of some government. Although Client was coming on a good visitor visa, Client was arrested and placed in ‘maximum security’ custody. Note that Client has never been charged of terrorism and Client has no criminal record. It seems his only sin was not to be from the right country of origin!
Client was really desperate yet he just could not go back because he knew they will torture and hurt him. At the airport Client sought the protection of the US government under an asylum. I visited the client in custody and I can honestly say it was not a pleasant condition. He was treated as a criminal and on the day I visited him, I was stuck in the facility because of a ‘locked down’. Not a pleasant experience at all.
My client was not really able to pay a bond so I proposed an ISAP program putting an ankle bracelet and a constant monitoring on him. Fortunately the government accepted. There began the journey.
First the Client was interviewed during a ‘Credible Fear’ interview. An interview which he passed without any issue because there was so much evidence that Client will suffer from persecution should he be returned to his home country.
Then the battle started in court. I filed a trial brief to explain the case, provided loads of documents to prove past persecution and obtained the testimony of different experts in Client’s favor.
During the trial, the government attorney took the case on a personal level and constantly made several remarks about Client’s country of origin, my own religion and my expert’s origin. The judge, a very fair judge I shall admit, was seriously disturbed by the comments of the government attorney. In addition, at no point they were able to prove that the Client was lying or was a threat to national security. In fact, there was not a single charge to this effect.
The case was continued for years with several hearings, actually around 9 hearings in immigration court. The case was so stressful that it was taking a toll on Client’s life. However, Client was a very patient man and his convictions protected him from desperation.
Unfortunately because of the Real ID Act, the case was denied. However, the judge officially reprimanded the government attorney for her behavior towards the Client and those representing him.
I filed an appeal with the BIA with new grounds of admission, and the appeal was sustained sending the case back to the same judge. At this point, the case was continued for another two years because there was a confusion whether USCIS or the immigration court had jurisdiction on the case. Our position was that at this point, only the USCIS had jurisdiction on the case. The judge agreed with us.
Because of the confusion, the case was further delayed and our law firm went ahead to do a congressional inquiry with the Congress woman Barbara Lee. The Congress Woman liaison responded very favorably and found out that the case was approved by the USCIS, yet it seems that the file was not with USCIS anymore. This created another delay.
Today on August 31st, 2011, it seems that both the judge and I were tired of this delay. During the new master calendar hearing, the judge asked me to stay and to finalize the case. I was more than happy to do so. At this point, the government attorney asked if I had an objection that the case be dismissed without prejudice. This means that they can reopen the case on the same charges as before if they find new evidence. I objected stating that it does not make sense. The judge agreed with me stating that she is approving the case on the merits and with prejudice. This means if they want to put Client in deportation, the government needs to file for a new Notice to Appear (“NTA”).
Therefore, the judge concluded she is terminating the case in court, because Client was granted permanent legal residence in the United States (his greencard). In other words, we won. Note that Client who was still under the supervision of ISAP is now no longer under monitoring and is therefore to live freely in America as a permanent resident.
Just imagine the feeling of this client. On my side, the feeling of joy could not be explained.
This is my job and the feeling of saving an innocent is just priceless….God Bless America – God Bless the American legal system!