Category: State department

Attorney Ahmad Yakzan

I Told You So!! Judge Limits Trump’s Travel Ban, Again!

I wrote a post when the Supreme Court ruled on Trump’s travel ban arguing that the decision was more expansive than the Administration’s interpretation. I also said that there will be more litigation to clarify who is encompassed within the “bona fide relationship” language the Supreme Court used. Yesterday, a federal judge in Hawaii agreed with my interpretation of the decision. The judge expanded the definition to encompass more family members than included in the Administration’s definition, which was limited to parents, in-laws, and siblings.

Advocates suing the Administration over the ban asked the judge to expound on the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision, and to clarify the “bona fide relationship” language in the decision. The judge previously refused to grant that request, but yesterday, he did.

The Judge ruled that the Administration’s interpretation is antithetical, ruling that such interpretation was erroneous. The judge reasoned that such interpretation does not comport to the Supreme Court ruling, since grandparents, in-laws, siblings, uncles and their children meet the close familial relationship encompassed in the Supreme Court’s decision.

The judge also agreed with my interpretation of the decision, where I argued that a simple promise of refugee status is enough to make refugees exempt from the ban. The Administration disagreed with the Plaintiffs’ argument, which simply out says that any refugee who has had the necessary background checks , medical tests, and has received a contract for resettlement is included within the scope of “bona fide” relationships. The Administration argued that individual refugees did not directly receive such commitment and that should bring out of the scope of the decision. The judge disagreed, saying that going through all these steps shows a bona fide relationship. He added that “[b]ona fide does not get more bona fide as that”.

This is yet another blow to the Administration’s travel ban. The think there will be more litigation about this ban, especially when I know that the “bona fide relationship” language in the Supreme Court’s decision was vague.

Please let me know your thoughts. To read the decision, click here.

Applying for Asylum? Should you?

This week, I will be traveling to Miami to represent a client in an asylum interview. In this post, I will be discussing eligibility for asylum in simple terms.  I will also provide a list of important resources one could use when applying for asylum.
Asylum law is the international community’s recognition that some individuals would be threatened if they were forced to return to their homeland. According to the High Commissioner of Human Rights, this practice is one of the oldest traditions in human history. National laws are used to establish eligibility for this form of protection. Under our laws, the process of establishing eligibility is a complicated one. An asylum seeker could apply for protection overseas, where he or she applies for asylum through an international agency. However, one a person is in the US, the Department of Homeland Security adjudicates these petitions.
To qualify as an asylum seeker, one must meet the definition of refugee under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The Act defines a refugee as :”any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. INA § 101(a)(42)(A), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A).
It seems like such definition should encompass many categories and should be straightforward. It suffices to say that one of the most appealed petitions in immigration law is the petition for asylum I-589. Most of the immigration cases that reach circuit review around the United States involve asylum petitions. Many people believe that the application is a straightforward one. Sometimes, the application is such; however, when the threats are not crystallized or there is a fear of future harm, one should really hire an attorney. Most of these appeals involved applicants whose petitions were not clear enough to convince the adjudicator that they were harmed or would face harm if returned to their countries.  It is very important to consult an attorney before you apply, and if you can not afford one, please visit this link to find a free attorney in your state. Please do not apply on your own, and consult an attorney, specially since the chances of success are very low (see graph below).
So to answer the question above,  consult an attorney before you apply and do discuss other options if the attorney recommends against filing. Please comment if you have any questions.
Asylum Statistics
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Litigating Petitions that might be Barred under the Adam Walsh Act

The Adam Walsh Act Child Protection and Safety Act aims to protect minors from sexual exploitation. Section 402  of the Act meets that goal by preventing a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident from petitioning for an immigration visa if he has been convicted of a sex crime relating to a minor. The Act applies to petitions filed on or after July 27, 2006, when it was passed by Congress. There is an exception under the law if the sexual assault was consensual and with an adult.
The law gives DHS the discretion to waive the criminal bar under the Act, if the petitioner proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he poses no risk to the beneficiary.
There are several problems with the Act. To be clear, I do not condone sexual assault on anyone. However, I have represented many US citizens who have truly reformed. They, themselves, had nothing to do with their past, and were subjected to abuse at a young age. They have reformed and they are leading better lives when they come see me. The law precludes these citizens from applying for their spouses, a right that they should have. The law also limits the petitioner’s right to challenge the Service’s discretion and elevates the burden of proof to beyond a reasonable doubt, the level of proof required in criminal cases. AILA has recently filed an amicus brief  in a challenge to the law. I look forward to the decision on the case.

DOS and DHS Change Their Rules Regarding Misrepresentation

In a letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid, DHS announced a new procedure regarding the application of section 212 (a)(6)(C)(ii) of the Act. The section makes an  applicant who makes a false claim to citizenship inadmissible into the United States. 
The new policy makes a person inadmissible only when the claim is knowingly made to the immigration officers. A person raising the claim that his misrepresentation was in error bears the burden to prove such assertion. The new policy also establishes a new affirmative defense for people who were under 18 when the claim was made. This defense has two components: 1) that the person was under 18 when the claim was made and 2) that the person could not have appreciated the consequences of such claims. 
I have represented several clients in immigration court who had been charged with misrepresentation under the Act. Several of them did not have the intent to misrepresent a material fact to the officer. I welcome the change and I look forward to pleading the new policy in immigration court.