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  1. I Don't Know, I Don't Know, I Don't Know

    If you are an asylum seeker waiting for your interview, repeat these words: I don't know. Again: I don't know. Say them out loud: I don't know. One more time: I don't know. These three words may mark the difference between an asylum grant and a denial, but too few asylum seekers ever utter them.
    "I appear wise because I do not think I know what I do not know" - Socrates. #BeLikeSocrates
    I have previously written about how it is important for lawyers to use these same words, and I might even go as far as saying that if you visit a lawyer and he or she never says "I don't know," you might be better off finding a different lawyer. When we do not know or acknowledge the limits of our own ignorance, we risk giving bad advice.

    Asylum seekers also need to practice their I-don't-knows. If you can learn to master these three little words, you might save yourself a whole lot of trouble. Why? Because too many applicants answer questions where (1) They do not understand the question, (2) They do not know the answer, or (3) They do not remember the answer. And if asylum applicants give an answer when, in fact, they do not know, it starts them on a path that could easily end in a denial.

    Here’s an example from a recent case I worked on. The asylum applicant’s father was prominent in his country’s government, but the applicant did not know much about his father’s position. The Asylum Officer asked for some details about the father’s job, and the applicant answered. But the applicant really did not know the answer. He just made a series of assumptions based on the limited information he did know. It turns out, the assumptions were wrong, and the applicant’s testimony ended up being inconsistent with the testimony of other family members. Fortunately, we had a good Asylum Officer whose questions brought my client's assumptions to light, and so I think the applicant’s credibility was not damaged. Nevertheless, had the applicant just said, “I don’t know” instead of assuming, he would have avoided a potential pitfall (and—more importantly from my point of view—he would have saved his attorney a few unwelcome heart palpitations).

    Having observed many such interactions, I always advise my clients to say that they do not know or do not remember, if that is the case. But most people don't fully grasp the importance of only answering when they know the answer. If you guess—about a date or an event—and you are wrong, you risk creating an inconsistency, meaning that your spoken testimony may end up being different from your written statement or evidence, or different from information that the U.S. government already has about you (from your visa application, for example). The Asylum Officer or Immigration Judge may view inconsistencies as an indicator that you are not telling the truth. The theory (flawed, in my opinion) is that people who tell the truth will present consistent testimony in their oral and written statements, and in all the interviews with the U.S. government. The bottom line is this: If your testimony is inconsistent, the adjudicator may view you as a liar and deny your case on this basis.

    I get that it is not always easy to say that you don’t know. Most applicants understand that it is important to answer the questions; after all, that is why they are at the interview or in court in the first place. And of course, not answering can create other issues (it is common to hear adjudicators ask, “Why can’t you remember?” to applicants trying to recall relatively obscure events from many years in the past). Plus, in the stressful environment of the Asylum Office or Immigration Court, many applicants feel they need to give an answer, even if they are not sure what the answer is.

    Indeed, there are times when saying “I don’t know” can be a real problem for a case. One of my clients was recently asked about his prior political activity. He had no evidence showing his political involvement, and so his testimony took on added importance. In that case, if he were asked about the philosophy of his party or the party’s leadership, the inability to answer might be viewed as evidence that he was not active in the party. Fortunately, in our case, the client knew the basic beliefs of the party and the names of its leaders. He was also able to describe in detail his political activities. His involvement in the party was years ago, but I suspect that if he had told the Judge that he did not remember or did not know, it would have negatively affected his case (maybe it’s a topic for another day, but the fact is, many political activists do not know much about their parties—they have joined because a parent or sibling was a member, or due to ethnic or regional loyalty; the party’s supposed philosophy, its activities, and its leaders are of little concern to them).

    It is preferable to know your case and answer the questions that are asked. So review your affidavit and evidence before your hearing. Practice answering questions with your lawyer or with a friend. Try to remember the dates (at least more or less) of events. Know the names of relevant people and places, and about your political party or religion, or whatever forms the basis of your asylum claim. Try to remember all this, but if you can't, don't be afraid to say "I don't know." As we have seen, not knowing can be a problem. But not knowing and guessing can be a disaster.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  2. Prosecutors Protect Immigrants From Deportation For Minor Crimes

    by , 06-01-2017 at 10:01 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)

    Via NPR:

    Prosecutors have wide latitude when negotiating plea deals. It typically depends on the facts of each case. In several U.S. cities now, prosecutors are using their discretion to protect defendants who are immigrants. They want to ensure that immigrants, whether here illegally or seeking citizenship, don't get deported for minor crimes. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.
  3. Texas Legislator Calls ICE to Intimidate Immigrants and Americans From Exercising Free Speech Rights to Protest Against S.B. 4. Roger Algase

    Update. June 2, 12:35 pm.

    The danger to America's democracy that the call by a Texas Republican state legislator to ICE to break up a demonstration by US citizens, not only immigrants, against S.B. 4 is underscored by a frightening report in that Americans who protested against Trump's inauguration are now facing up to 70 or 80 years in prison for their actions in expressing their views.

    If a campaign of terror and fear against immigrants at both the federal and state levels is allowed to continue unchecked, how much longer can American citizens expect to keep their freedoms?

    The Nuremberg laws in 1930's Germany were aimed ostensibly against the Jews, but all of that country's non-Jewish Germans eventually wound up losing their freedom as well.

    My original comment follows: reports that on May 29, when hundreds of pro-immigrant activists, including many mainly Hispanic American citizens, appeared at the Texas legislature to protest against the recently enacted Texas S.B. 4 law, which has been criticized as arguably even harsher and more punitive against immigrants than Arizona's notorious discredited S.B. 1070 law, key parts of which were struck down by the Supreme Court, a Republican State legislator, Matt Rinaldi, announced that he had called ICE in order to intimidate the protesters from exercising their Constitutional free speech rights.

    The story is available at:

    Salon reports as follows:

    "Hundreds of protesters showed up at the state capitol to register their anger with the statute [S.B. 4]...

    The protesters unnerved Republican legislators who support the bill, and Rinaldi, in an obvious fit of rage, declared on Facebook that he had called ICE on the protesters."

    The report continues:

    "Democratic state Rep. Cesar Blanco, in a phone conversation, accused Rinaldi of trying to 'intimidate people from exercising their First Amendment Rights,' adding that the protests had been peaceful.

    'It's a form of intimidation, agreed Lizet Ocampo, the political director of People for the American Way, in another phone conversation. 'It's offensive too, to see a group of protesters who obviously look Hispanic and call ICE on them.'...

    Ocampo noted that Rinaldi's action 'provides
    a visual of what's behind this legislation, which is an animosity toward Latinos and Mexican immigrants in the state.'

    Blanco argued, 'Because individuals in the gallery were majority Hispanic, [Rinaldi] assumed people there were undocumented...The fact that a Republican member assumed that people who were protesting there were undocumented says everything about SB4.'

    Aguirre, whose group helped organize the protests, said, "The reality is that it was a mix of folks who were immigrants and folks who were US citizens...'"

    There can be little doubt that calling in ICE to stop a peaceful, Constitutionally protected protest is just as intimidating for American citizens as for immigrants, particularly when most or all of the protesters may have the same ethnicity, putting American citizens at risk of being arrested or asked to show their papers along with immigrants.

    But none of this is new. In 1936, Germany enacted the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews, just as states such as Texas and Arizona, to name only two, have tried to pass harsh and punitive laws against Latino immigrants. In the case of Germany, all Germans wound up losing their freedom, not only the Jews.

    If the state and federal governments are free to ramp up arrests, incarceration and mass deportation of Latino and other non-European immigrants, how long will it be before American citizens also lose their free speech rights and Constitutional freedoms in the "Era of Donald Trump"?
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards.

    Roger's principal areas of practice include H-1B specialty occupation and O-1 extraordinary ability visas, and green cards through Labor Certification or through marriage. His email address is

    Updated 06-09-2017 at 08:43 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. It's time to put the travel ban aside and take another look at the rest of the Executive Order its in.

    You will know why I said that if you read my article,

    Trump’s Seven-country Travel Ban Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg.
    By Nolan Rappaport

    It was published by Huffington Post and has been posted on, but its message is even more important now.

    Nolan Rappaport

    by , 05-30-2017 at 04:53 PM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo

    MU Law is aware that the USCIS has been denying/issuing RFE/NOIDs on I-140s when nurses hold a BSN. The USCIS somehow has been finding that BSN nurses are not qualified for nursing positions that require an Associate’s degree in nursing (ASN). USCIS claims that the I-140 should be denied because the BSN does not meet the exact requirements on the ETA Form 9089.

    This is ridiculous decision-making by USCIS. The BSN is, of course, a higher degree than an Associate’s degree. BSN nurses are more than qualified for these positions. The law is clear that any I-140 beneficiary can have additional skills, experience, or education beyond the requirements stated in the ETA Form 9089 and still meet the minimum requirements of the position.

    MU Law and others have reached out to USCIS through AILA, suggesting that this is a training issue at USCIS . As per a recent AILA update, USCIS is looking into this issue. We hope to have a positive update soon.

    Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at and You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

    Updated 05-30-2017 at 05:02 PM by CMusillo

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