Immigration Court Grants Syrian Woman Cancellation of Removal depsite two Shoplifting Convictions
September 10, 2004
Immigration Court Newark, New Jersey.
Immigration Judge Alberto J. Reifkhol granted a Syrian woman Cancellation of Removal after she had lived in the United States for nearly 18 years without legal documentation. Ms. X, the applicant, has four US citizen children from 14 to 17 years of age, all of whom are honor students and active in extra-curricular activities.
Cancellation of Removal is a defense to a charge of removability that requires that the applicant has resided in the US for at least ten consecutive years; is a person of good moral character; and has US citizen or lawful permnanent resident children or spouse for whom the applicant’s removal would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship”, which is a very high standard.
In the case at hand, the applicant clearly satisfied the minimum rquirement of at least ten years in the United States, and was able to prove exceptional and extremely unusual hardhsip to her US citizen children should she be returned to Syria. The hardhsip was based upon a reduced standard of living, psychological hardship to the children, anti-American sentiments in Syria, the children’s inability to read or write Arabic, the reduced rights of the female children under Syria’s Baathist Regime, an interruption of the children’s education and aspirations of college, and Syria’s stagnant economy and 30% unemployment rate.
The true issue, however, revolved around Ms. X’s ability to prove that she is a person of good moral character in that she was twice been convicted of shoplifting.
Initially, the Department of Homeland Security took the position that Ms. X was statutorily barred from applying for cancellation of removal for having been convicted of a crime. However, it was soon established that the shoplifting offenses, as disorderly persons offenses, were not “crimes” within the meaning of relevant law.
Ms. X then had to prove that, despite her convictions, she is a person of good moral character. In support of her case, Ms. X tesified about all of her volunteer work within the community, all of which was supported by confirming reference letters, and about her offenses and her rehabilitation since they occured.
Relying on Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) precedent, which states that one or two petty offense convictions is not determinative of the issue of good moral character, although it may be suggestive of a lack thereof, Ms. X’s counsel argued that her rehabilitation and long term volunteer work within the community does in fact establish her “good moral character” despite the convictions.
After lengthy testimony of Ms. X and her children, the Immigration Judge found that the applicant had satisfied all necessary elements of Cancellation of Removal and granted her case.
The applicant now enjoys Lawful Permanent Resident status although routine processing and security checks will delay her actual receipt of the “green card” for several months.
This case was tried by Joseph G. Cella, Esq.