A Colorado man was doing his best to legally adjust his immigration status. He paid all his taxes, had no criminal record and supported his four U.S. citizen children working construction. Although he has been in the country without proper documentation since 1998, he had been trying to rectify that situation since 2001.
It seemed he was going to get a shot at the dream. With the help of an immigration attorney and his eldest daughter, a Yale student, he had put together what sounds like a strong application. He lined up references and paid the correct fees. He was scheduled for a final interview and was expecting to be a lawful permanent resident soon.
At that final interview, the immigration officer told the man and his daughter that the petition would probably be approved, although not at this meeting. Then he was arrested.
ICE didn’t have to arrest the man. The immigration officer recommended approving him for a green card and that would have ended the matter.
Currently, the man is being held a detention center, awaiting deportation. He will be deported unless ICE grants him a cancellation of removal or his lawyer finds another solution.
The man’s daughter is heartbroken and horrified that she contacted the USCIS in the first place. She had thought that doing so would mean finally putting aside the constant fear that her dad would be deported. Instead, she got a shocking betrayal.
Targeting Honest Immigrants Creates Fear and Uncertainty
“What happened to him is not an appropriate application of the law — it is cruelty,” his daughter said.
As the young woman points out in an op-ed piece for the New York Times, her dad is not the only person dealing with a situation like this one. The Trump administration has made every unauthorized immigrant a priority for deportation, even those who have done all the right things to legalize their status.
When an honest man is detained for trying to comply with the law, something is deeply wrong with our system. A policy that allows this result is sending the wrong message. People should be encouraged to deal honestly with our legal system. They have the right to expect honesty and fair dealing in return.
If you are an unauthorized immigrant in the Houston area and need to deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the best way to protect your rights is to hire an immigration lawyer who can fight for you if you are detained.
If you are detained, don’t panic. Call your lawyer. There are options available for people in immigration detention, even if there is a criminal law matter involved. A lawyer can ask for a bond hearing to allow the person to be released. The person might also qualify for removal relief or an appeal through the Bureau of Immigration Appeals.