On The Brink Of Being Deported, Respondent’s Case Is Reopened, Paving The Way For Him, His Wife And Child To Adjust Status To Lawful Permanent Residents.
The respondent, a native and citizen of Egypt, entered the United States with his wife and child without inspection on or about April 25, 1994. In May 1994, the respondent?s U.S. citizen sister filed a Petition for Alien Relative (?I-130?) naming the respondent’s wife as a beneficiary. Between April 1994 and September 1994, the respondent filed an affirmative Application for Asylum in the United States based on a fear of persecution in Egypt due to the fact that he was a Coptic Christian. On September 15, 1994, the respondent?s asylum application was denied by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and he was charged with being deportable. On May 22, 1996, the respondent?s application for asylum was heard by the Immigration Judge (?IJ?), who denied th efamily’s asylum application, but granted them voluntary departure to be fulfilled on or before May 22, 1997. Thereafter, the respondent filed an appeal of the IJ?s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (hereinafter ?BIA?). The BIA denied the appeal on or about November 5, 1997.
On September 2, 2005, the respondent’s the BIA reopened and remanded respondent’s case on the basis of changed circumstances in Egypt. The matter was then remanded to the IJ for further proceedings.
In the meantime, an immigrant visa had become available on the basis of the previously-filed I-130, rendering respondent and family eligible become lawful permanent residents, under INA Section 245(i)
However, on January 10, 2006, the respondents appeared at a Master Calendar Hearing before the IJ along with his prior counsel. During that hearing, the Government attorney agreed that, if respondent?s counsel were to submit evidence that the I-130 had been approved, the Government would agree to remand the case for adjudication of their Adjustment applications. The matter was then re-set to a date in March 2006 to permit respondent’s prior counsel to submit the evidence.
Shortly thereafter, an Application to Adjust Status (hereinafter ?I-485?) was filed with applicable fees and penalties.
After a series of adjournments, the matter next appeared on the Court?s calendar on July 11, 2006. The respondent and prior counsel appeared, although counsel had still not submitted the I-130 evidence that had been requested six months earlier. Of course the government attorney refused to remand the case, having not yet received the necessary evidence.
Outside the presence of respondent, a date was set for October 2006 for respondent’s counsel to submit the I-130 approval notice. or to return to court.
However, respondent’s prior counsel failed to submit the evidence by the October date. Additionally, respondent’s counsel failed to either inform respondent of the October court date, or to appear with him. As a result, respondent was ordered removed in his absence in October 2006.
The following month, respondent learned, upon his own inquiry to the Immigration Service, that he had been ordered deproted. When he contacted his prior lawyer, she told him that she knew nothing of it and agreed to file a motion to reopen for an additional fee. That motion was filed and denied. Again, respondent’s prior counsel failed to inform respondent of the denial of the motion to reopen.
Several months later, respondent’s home was entered by ICE agents and respondent was taken into custoday on the basis of an order of deportation having been entered, and the motion to reopen having been denied.
Respondent’s wife immediately went back to their lawyer, who, for an additional fee, agreed to file for an emergency stay and for a motion to reopen.
One week later, after having received no communication from respondent’s attorney, respondent’s wife met with and retained Cella & Associates to represent her husband. C&A immediately met with respondent in custody, filed for an emergency stay of deportation, reviewed the court file, spok ewith the government attorney, and filed for a replacement I-130 approval notice. The emergency stay was granted and respondent was out of risk of being removed to Egypt for the time being.
After the file was reviewed, a motion to reopen, based upon the inneffective assistance of respondent’s prior counsel, was prepared and filed. Several days later, the IJ erroneously denied the motion, and left for vacation.
Immediately, another request for emergency stay was filed with a different IJ, which was granted, and a motion to reconsider was prepared and filed with the original IJ, to be adjudicated upon her return from vacation. Although the Government attorneys opposed our motion to reconsider, the IJ granted it, and respondent’s case was reopened.
Next the Immigration Service set bail for respondent’s release in the amount of $25,000.00. Beleiving that such an amount was unreasonable, Cella & Associates immediately prepared and filed a request for a bond redetermination hearing with the Immigration Court. The next day the IJ reduced the bail amount to $7500.00. Bail was paid, and respondent was released from custody.
Respondent, his wife and child will now seek a remand of their case for adjudication of their Adjustment of Status applications.
Working together in this matter on behalf of Respondent were attorneys Cecilia Rodriguez,(Cliffside Park Office), Melanie Taylor-Lau, (Clifton Office), and Joseph G. Cella.