My clients ordeal started a decade earlier. However, in 2003, she attempted to return from her trip abroad. Facts that were required to prove a crime were left out of the Criminal Court transcript. What should have been a minor criminal offense was amplified. Now, it was time for her to learn about this mess.
Fifteen years later, and eighteen years after entering the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security caught up. Eventually, the client was charged with exclusion. As a result, Judge Yoda was randomly assigned the Immigration Court case. The judge’s name, client’s gender will remain anonymous and facts slightly changed to protect identities.
In reviewing her criminal plea, I realized that the criminal transcript made little sense. The criminal arrest record suggested that the client and her friend entered a dorm room intended to make mischief and in the process moved a coat containing a calculator within the room, dropped it, and then fled. It seemed a bit questionable to take such a risk over a jacket. There did not seem to be much of a plan nor an intent to permanently deprive anyone of the jacket. Yet, there were expensive items that could prove tempting.
Call it a dare or simply temporary stupidity, the die was cast. They entered without permission. They broke the law, but which law? The jacket was moved just when the occupying student returned. The students left, the student victim reported the incident, and the offensive students were arrested. Of course there should have been an arrest.
Yet, in exchange, the foreign born defendent encountered an unforgiving prosecutor, who charged the defendants with both burglary and theft. It seemed more like trespass and the physical movement of an item within someones space without permission. It was likely an act done under the influence.
The pressure placed upon the university student was allegedly intense. Offers to allow her to eventually return to the college in six months were proposed, tempting, and accepted. She and the U.S. Citizen who persuaded her to take part in entering the open window pled guilty. Life went on for a while. She graduated, travelled abroad numerous times, and started a corporation.
A trip to Europe to visit her aging parents led her into this Jedi-like ordeal. I put her in touch with what seemed like the most accomplished criminal attorney in the county where the convictions were entered. This attorney was a former prosecutor, who ironically knew the case. Years had passed. The office’s actions had yet to be forgotten. A simpathetic attorney can do wonders. Over a decade later, and within a year of her green card confiscation, a new District Attorney was elected to office. Now, the original transcript and its glaring errors could be presented to a more independent eye with more reasonable instincts toward the acts of a foolish college student.
Although the convictions were vacated, it was unclear if the acts that led to the changes were enough. There was the belief that one of the replaced convictions was still a crime involving moral turpitude. There was also concern that old conviction may have been improperly changed based upon immigration law. This made little sense at the time, but my arguments to Judge Yoda and what appeared to be numerous unsympathetic civil immigration prosecutor seemed futile.
A claim was made that an published immigration decision held that one of the new crimes was still a deportable offense. At this moment I have yet to find such a case. Yet, I hope to find the decision even if it is unpublished. I tried a similar matter only to have an immigration judge decide that the crime was not one involving moral turpitude. As a result that matter was dismissed without the need for relief.
Well, Judge Yoda appeared, negotiated and with little notice executed one of the most amazing Jedi Mind Tricks that I have ever seen in Immigration Court. It happened with little notice and amazing grace. It is hard to explain the unexplainable.
Just when it appeared that my client might be encouraged to concede the original yet vacated conviction; this, in spite of the current convictions that were arguably not significant convictions for immigration purposes, we recessed for lunch. Two hours later, it happened. The Immigration Judge began the hearing. He asked to start the questioning. He questioned the client. He did not ask her to concede to anything. Judge Yoda simply questioned. He wanted to find out the truth. In response, the client answered. Upon conclusion, the immigration prosecutor asked his questions.
Within fifteen minutes, Judge Yoda again spoke. There was an impression. This was that relief was to be granted, but based upon what? The exact reason for the client’s removal remained unclear facts, but it was understood that grounds existed, even if not presented. This, due to the vacated criminal orders.
Now, with all of the information in front of him, Judge Yoda deliberated. He recognized that the client was inadmissible regardless of the charges levied. This hurt, but was not as fatal as it seems. A appeal would prove aggravating and delay her right to closure. The client was told of the judge’s desire to approve the case. However, Judge Yoda presented a position that appeased the prosecutor into waiving appeal in spite of all previous concerns. As Judge Yoda spoke, the prosecutor agreed to what seemed positions that he was unprepared to aggree to.
Well, at least the immigration court transcript is stealth. With nearly twenty years past after the crime, the client may try to seek citizenship by naturalization. However, at a minimum, she can also remain lawfully in the U.S. after more than twenty years of residence unless something else happens. Should people be permanently deported decades later without the opportunity ‘to request’ relief, even if it may not be granted?