By Shah Peerally, Esq.
As an Immigration lawyer, I have been practicing law for more than 10 years and have tackled a fair share of “interesting” cases. In my career, have handled thousands of cases, and while each case is different, I have also witnessed a disparate treatment of different immigrants despite they bear similar facts. The treatment is often related to people of different countries and different culture. In my opinion, if someone originates from the Middle East or South Asia (especially Pakistan and Afghanistan), it seems that their cases are subject to a stricter scrutiny.
After the sad events of September 11, 2001, things have actually changed in the United States. In fact, it has changed so much over the years that even the defunct Immigration and Nationality Services had been absorbed under the Department of Homeland Security.
Many would claim that the reaction is in response to the September 11 attacks. While I do not deny this fact, and actually understand the fear of the United States as a country – including my own fear – against people who want to harm the country, I cannot really comprehend the discrimination towards those who are innocent. I have personally handled hundreds of cases where the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) have delayed the clients’ cases for no reason. As such, our law firm have actually filed several Writ of Mandamus or USC 1447(b) actions to force the administrative agency to answer or adjudicate the case. I am proud to say that we usually come up with some great agreement between the government lawyers and our law firm to settle such cases.
Furthermore, we have noticed that many immigrants are followed, stopped, interrogated or detained by ICE (Immigration Custom Enforcement) just on mere suspicion. The Book ‘The Immigration Lawyer-Asylum’ was written with this perspective in mind inspired by my personal experience dealing with the present system. While I have always hoped I was wrong, the ACLU report attached is very clear on the disparate and unfair treatment of people Middle East and South Asia.
As a firm believer in justice and US Constitution, I think someone has to actually bring such issues to light. It is incumbent upon all of us to redress the situation. Unfortunately unless we educate the public that not all Muslims, Middle Eastern or South Asians people want to harm America, we will only propagate a depressive culture of fear.
I admire America for being one of the best countries on this planet. I also believe that the US Constitution is one of the best man-made constitution in history, however, if we do not apply the US Constitution fairly, we will no longer represent America.
I hope this short fiction will explain some of the issues faced by many immigrants in this country. Note that we are not talking about illegal immigration in this case, although there are much to be said about this subject. The book ‘Asylum’ recounts the difficulties faced by one person from Iraq who is trying to enter on a valid visa but find himself detained on false charges. Simon Barett of BloggerNews describes the situation in few words:
“… Ahmad, an Iraqi chemical engineer is making his third visit to the US in three years, it is simply a vacation to visit with some family members. Also an opportunity to spend some time to smell fresh air and try and forget the brutality of the Sadam Hussein regime. He has many reasons to avoid going back to Iraq…”
The book also explores the way the immigration court works and the challenges faced by immigration lawyers in dealing with a broken system. The book navigates the immigration court dealing with a defensive asylum, U-Visas and a marriage petition. A reviewer of the book says :
“I was recommended “The Immigration Lawyer: Asylum (Volume 1)” by a friend and I have to say that I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Shah Peerally provides a uniquely compelling look into the immigration progress and the atmosphere for immigrants, drawing the reader in and helping them to see through different eyes of the struggles that immigrants face. It’s well-written, vivid in detail, emotionally captivating and uses strong dialogue and narration to bring the subject of immigration into focus. The book has a distinct edge to it that never waivers from providing a poignantly brutal honesty of what those who come to this country face. From asylum to marriage petitions and more, this is the kind of novel that sheds light on a system that many people give little thought to and it really is a wonderfully dramatic story. Overall, it’s engaging, fast-paced, insightful and thoughtful… well worth the read.”
As immigration reform debate is in the forefront of many politicians’ agendas, we are all hoping for good changes. But until then, immigration lawyers are faced with unique difficulties of defending their clients in an imperfect system. Unless the public understands the labyrinth of the US immigration laws, they will never know that it is unfortunately an unfair system for many. As such we, immigration lawyers, see unfortunate abuses of discretion and wrong decisions leading to unequal treatment of many immigrants.
Having said that, the system is the best we can have so far and we just need to have faith that one day it will be a fair system to all!