If an immigrant hires an inadequate attorney or non-attorney service to handle their case, they could end up being denied, or even find themselves in removal proceedings. As a result, they will end up paying significantly more money than they would have had they hired the right attorney from the beginning.
I once represented a husband and wife, and the wife (who was from China) had previously hired a Chinese attorney to handle her asylum case. This attorney made up a story for her. If a client were to ask me to do that for them, I would kick them out of my office. If it doesn’t look like a couple is truly married, then I will kick them out of my office. The Chinese attorney’s story didn’t add up, and he included the fact that she had been married to two different people in China prior to coming to the United States.
I was hired to accompany this couple to a green card interview. During that interview, the officer brought up the fact that in the previous case, the wife stated that she had been married twice before. In response, the wife said that she had only been married once. The previous lawyer who had helped with the asylum application misspelled her former husband’s name. Furthermore, she wasn’t able to get a divorce certificate for two different people from China, because under oath she said she’d been married twice before. However, this was a mistake made by the translator. This is an example of a client who had a bona fide case, yet was denied due to an error made by the translator. Immigration law can be done in a bad way, which can cause major consequences for the client.
If An Immigrant’s Case Is Mishandled By A Non-Attorney Service, Will That Hurt Their Chances Of A Successful Immigration Case In The Future?
It may be hard to believe, but as the law stands right now, an immigrant who knowingly hires a non-attorney service that provides poor advice and causes the case to be denied could get deported. In immigration law, a person doesn’t have to be an attorney to appear in immigration court. There are wonderful Catholic charities who advocate on behalf of clients, and while they are accredited representatives and good people, they are not lawyers. The level of work that a client will get from an attorney is different, but some people can’t afford it, which is understandable.
One of my clients who is currently in detention hired a non-lawyer prior to hiring me. That non-lawyer can no longer appear in court because he lost his accreditation or is in the process of losing it. That non-lawyer was working with a criminal attorney who showed up to the individual hearing, which is the merits case in immigration. The whole transcript of the individual hearing was 40 pages, and I’ve had 300 to 500-page transcripts just during the merits.
On top of that, it was the first or second time that the attorney had ever met the client in person, and he didn’t know that the client was actually eligible for asylum. The first thing that he said at the merits hearing was, “Your Honor, I just spoke to my client’s brother and he qualifies for asylum.” Of course, he hadn’t submitted an application, so he couldn’t prove that he actually had an asylum case.
Once I was hired by this client, I had to explain to him that he was going to be screwed if we didn’t go after the attorney. After a lot of convincing, he agreed. I hate going after other attorneys. I never put my name on a bar complaint because I know what that means. I’ve had it done to me for personal reasons, and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching to be in front of the bar responding to a complaint, but some attorneys deserve it.
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