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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

When You’re Lost in the Rain in Juarez

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http://shusterman.com/images/morales.jpg Imagine having an agency of the US government separate you from your only child.
It all started when Mrs. Morales’s brother got his girlfriend pregnant in Mexico. They had a son together, but his girlfriend died during childbirth. He drove the child across the border to the US, and his sister and her husband, both US citizens, accepted the child as their own.

They hired an attorney who helped them adopt their nephew in the California Superior Court.

After the required two-year waiting period, they hired an immigration attorney who had Mrs. Morales file an I-130 visa petition which was approved by the USCIS.

Eventually, Mrs. Morales and her son appeared at the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for an immigrant visa interview.

The interview was short, but not sweet. The consular officer informed Mrs. Morales that the I-130 had been approved in error by the USCIS, and that he was sending it back to be revoked. Why it was sent back to the USCIS remains a mystery.

Mrs. Morales was shocked, but respectful. “My son and I will go see our attorney and get this worked out”.

The officer informed her that while she could return to the US, her son would have to stay behind in Mexico.

Mrs. Morales was fit to be tied. She and her husband had never been separated from their son for so much as a day. Their son spoke only English and was being treated by a physician in California for ADD.

Her father, who lived in Tijuana, would have to care for their child until their immigration attorney could work out whatever was wrong with his immigration case. While he was happy to help watch over the child, he was also not in the best of health as he was nearly 80 years old and had recently had a heart valve transplant and he required care himself.

As soon as she returned to Los Angeles, she met with the attorney. Neither of them understood what was wrong with the I-130. However, the attorney decided that the best course of action was to request a humanitarian parole from the USCIS to reunite the child with his parents while they explored how to get him a green card.

She prepared a humanitarian parole application, complete with a letter from the child’s physician explaining that the child was in need of constant care. In January, one month after the application had been submitted, the USCIS wrote a letter informing her and her husband that it would take up to 90 days to process their humanitarian parole request.

Mrs. Morales and her husband both work full-time jobs. Every Friday night, she would drive from Southern California to Tijuana to spend the weekend with her son. Because of his lack of knowledge of Spanish, he was not able to attend school in Tijuana.

Between December and March, Mrs. Morales continued this exhausting routine, hoping that the USCIS would grant their humanitarian parole request. When this agonizing 90-day period came to an end, Mrs. Morales decided to schedule a legal consultation with me.

The day that we were retained, we sent an inquiry to the USCIS and contacted Mrs. Morales Congressman. This paid off, but in an unexpected way. Within a few days, we received a letter from the USCIS requesting more information.

Attorney Ellen Ma Lee and Paralegal Hilary Olson gathered the information, and quickly responded. After a short wait, we made the first of many inquiries.

Later, I received a call from the caseworker at the Congressman’s office. They were informed by the USCIS that the application for humanitarian parole was on the “expedited track”. Yet, as week after week and month after month passed, we received no answer from the USCIS.

Finally, last week, something very unexpected occurred. Not from the USCIS, but from CDJ. They asked Mrs. Morales to come to Consulate to submit some additional paperwork.

Then, a notice appeared online informing Mrs. Morales that an immigrant visa had been issued to her son!

The immigrant visa arrived by mail, and Mrs. Morales immediately drove to Tijuana. I spoke with her as she crossed the border into Mexico yesterday afternoon. In the evening, I received a message from Mrs. Morales that she and her son had crossed back into the US, and that he had been admitted as a lawful permanent resident!

What happened at the USCIS Parole Office and why CDJ granted the child a green card after keeping him separated from his parents for nearly 8 months, we may never know.

But Mr. and Mrs. Morales are thrilled to have their son back home, and so are we.

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Comments

  1. Retired INS's Avatar
    I managed the Fresno immigration office for 27 years. During that time I saw many badly handled cases, but this is worse than most. The child may now be here legally, but someone needs to explain why this happened. Unfortunately, the State Department is rarely required to explain its actions.

    A Congressional inquiry may have been sent, but one needs to understand what that usually means. A Congressional aide sends a letter to the agency being inquired about. Rarely does the member of Congress even become aware of the inquiry, therefore, these inquiries can be ignored with little consequence. I know because I responded to Congressional inquiries for the INS. Sometimes the issue needs to get to someone with enough clout to demand a response.
  2. Intecon's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Retired INS
    I managed the Fresno immigration office for 27 years. During that time I saw many badly handled cases, but this is worse than most. The child may now be here legally, but someone needs to explain why this happened. Unfortunately, the State Department is rarely required to explain its actions.

    A Congressional inquiry may have been sent, but one needs to understand what that usually means. A Congressional aide sends a letter to the agency being inquired about. Rarely does the member of Congress even become aware of the inquiry, therefore, these inquiries can be ignored with little consequence. I know because I responded to Congressional inquiries for the INS. Sometimes the issue needs to get to someone with enough clout to demand a response.
    ----------------------

    Everyone talks about our "broken immigration system". This a perfect example of how the system is broken - and it has nothing to do with CIR, which does not have anything to do with a broken system. The problem within USCIS and the DOS is that there is no accountability and officers are free to be as beligerent, pig headed and obtuse as they want, with no recourse.

    As the retired USCIS officer says above, someone needs to explain how this happened . . . but the sad fact is, nobody ever will.
  3. Retired INS's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Intecon
    ----------------------

    Everyone talks about our "broken immigration system". This a perfect example of how the system is broken - and it has nothing to do with CIR, which does not have anything to do with a broken system. The problem within USCIS and the DOS is that there is no accountability and officers are free to be as beligerent, pig headed and obtuse as they want, with no recourse.

    As the retired USCIS officer says above, someone needs to explain how this happened . . . but the sad fact is, nobody ever will.

    USCIS officers are accountable if someone asks for an explanation. The State Department works outside the U.S. where applicants have no Constitutional rights. There is also a great deal of difference between actions taken by USCIS and the State Department. In this case USCIS only had a legal question to answer, "Does the required relationship exist?" If the answer is yes, the petition must be approved. The State Department has discretion. They can refuse to issue a visa even if the required relationship exists - if they can produce even a theory that fraud is involved. However, since they wanted the petition revoked, they should have to give a reason for this - but they won't.

    It will be difficult to prove who in USCIS failed to respond, therefore, little action can be expected. The State Department official who did the immigrant visa interview should be able to be identified. However, immigration casework is considered the lowest rung on State Department's hierarchy of tasks. Nobody cares. There is more concern for the next black tie party to attend.
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