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Case Stories

Asylum Granted in FGM Case

We were contacted by a woman from Mali who had been searching for an immigration attorney who could handle her very sensitive and private case. In her home country of Mali as a child she had been the victim of Female Genital Mutilation (“FGM”) and because as an adult she had advocated for the end of the practice of FGM in her country, she was gang raped in retaliation.

Our Client fled to the United States but was so traumatized and suffering from PTSD that she was unable to retain counsel and file her asylum claim within a year of her entry, which is a requirement of asylum law.

Fortunately, our firm handles complex asylum cases and I was able to reassure our Client that there are exceptions to every rule and I was confident that we could not only overcome her failure to file within one year of entry but that we would prevail on her asylum claim.

It took over three years to get our Client’s case to trial but it was worth the time—our Client was granted asylum and the government did not appeal. Today our Client is a U.S. citizen!

There are exceptions to every rule and because at Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. we handle complex immigration cases we know the rules and the exceptions to the rules and we are able to advocate vigorously for our clients.

Asylum Granted in Colombian FARC Case

I do not mind talking about my very first trial so many, many years ago. I was a new attorney doing volunteer work on the side for what is now the National Immigrant Justice Center. I was assigned to work with a couple from Colombia who had left the country in fear of the FARC who had been terrorizing them before they left. This was my very first trial! I was a young attorney and very excited.

Luckily, my Dad is from Colombia and he is a Colombian historian. We worked together for hours collecting information about Colombia, the FARC, and the terrorism that had occurred through the years. We located country experts and I did extensive trial preparation with my clients.

On the day of trial, I was very nervous but I was so well prepared. The judge ruled in our favor and the government waived appeal. That meant that my clients were awarded asylum and did not need to worry about the government appealing the judge’s decision.

On the way out of the building, my clients were so happy. They asked me how many trials I had done. I finally admitted that this had been my first one! My clients were both thrilled and happy that I had not shared this piece of information with them before the trial. We all stay in touch to this day—20 years later—and they still ask after my dad who continues to monitor the progress of the Colombian peace process.

Removal Proceedings Dismissed Because Client was not Removable

An attorney friend called my office a few years ago to tell me about her friend, who, upon returning from Mexico, where he had been on a family vacation, was detained at the airport. Her friend was a legal permanent resident of the United States and had been since he was a teenager. Unfortunately, about 20 years ago, he had been arrested twice for possession of a firearm. These 20-year-old offenses resulted in him being placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.

I took the case and assured her friend that I was confident that we could win his case. He was a textbook example of a client for whom we could win a cancellation of removal trial. He was a long-time resident of the United States, other than his two 20-year-old convictions, he had never otherwise been in trouble, he had a number of U.S. citizen children, he was a business owner and well respected in the community, and he had strong ties to the United States.

As it happens in Immigration Court, the case dragged on through many years of cancelled dates and rescheduling between judges. Finally, we had a final trial date on the horizon. To prepare for trial, I reviewed my client’s case thoroughly and discovered that in the past three months, a new case had been decided in the 7th Circuit, which held that the statute under which my client was convicted was overbroad and therefore my client was no longer subject to being removed from the United States.

I prepared my argument for the Judge and presented it at court. The judge agreed with me but allowed District Counsel (the government attorney) time to respond. When we returned to court, the government put forward some arguments but ultimately, the judge agreed with me and dismissed the case.

I advised my client to immediately file for naturalization, which he did. After some rescheduling due to COVID-19, he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen late in the summer.

Although immigration law is very dynamic, at Ana M. Mencini & Assocaites, P.C., we monitor changes in the law on a daily basis to afford our clients the most effective and up to date representation possible.

The Potential Pitfalls of a Fiancée Visa

The fiancée visa can be a wonderful way for couples who fall in love overseas and want to marry in the United States to do so but the fiancée visa can be a trap for those unfamiliar with the rigid rules involved.

I received a call from a potential Client who was originally from India. He was in removal proceedings (deportation proceedings) and was desperate for someone to help him. He had come to the United States on a fiancée visa. He had married his future wife and they began living together. However, very quickly, the relationship fell apart. Never having lived together before, the couple found themselves to be incompatible and they separated quite quickly. At that point, my Client had a good job and his immediate and extended family were in the United States. He immediately called an attorney who advised him to have his mother apply for his green card, which she did and my Client became a legal permanent resident.

Shortly thereafter, my Client met and married again and the couple soon had a daughter. Unfortunately, when the daughter was a toddler, my client’s second wife was diagnosed with severe mental illness and she returned to India to live with her parents because she could not care for her daughter here in the U.S. My client became a single father who was also responsible to care for his now ill mother.

In order to finalize his immigration status, my Client filed for naturalization. It came as a complete surprise to him (and his previous attorney!) that not only could he not naturalize, he was not entitled to keep his green card because there is a rule stating that if you come into the U.S. on a fiancée visa, you can only get your green card through that fiancée. The U.S. government had made a mistake in giving him a green card! Now they wanted it back.

We ended up going to trial and after showing the judge that my client had a spotless record in the U.S., was singlehandedly supporting his U.S. citizen daughter, and his ill mother, the judge grated our request for cancellation of removal and my Client was given his green card—for real this time!

Won Cancellation of Removal for a Client from Mexico

I hear from many clients that they heard on the radio that if they have been in the U.S. for ten years, they can get a green card. As with many things, this is both true and not true. It is only true in the case where someone is in removal proceedings and it can be raised as a defense—I have been here for ten years, I have no criminal record, and I have a qualifying family member who has an extreme hardship preventing me from leaving the U.S. These grants of cancellations are numerically limited every year so even in “good” cases, they are hard to win. However, we did.

My client called to tell me that he had been placed in removal proceedings after a minor traffic incident. He had three kids—all born in the U.S.—and a wife who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. My client had more than one traffic incident; he actually had quite a few. However, the care he provided for his wife and kids was extraordinary and that is exactly what I proved to the judge.

After trial, our case was held until an available cancellation number was available and then my client was granted his legal permanent residence. It was a wonderful help to the family to have his case resolved and his future in the U.S. secure.

It is a good thing that we won. Only a few years later, his wife passed away and he is now taking care of his three kids on his own. Having a secure future in the U.S. helps him and his family in these tough times. I am glad we were a part of it.

Won 212(c) Relief

I received a call from a man who was facing removal (deportation) proceedings. He was scared. He was in his early 60s and was born in Italy but he had been in the United States since he was 6 months old. He did not even speak Italian and he had fought for the U.S. in Vietnam. Upon returning from a cruise, he was placed in removal proceedings due to a very old arrest from the early 1980s. He was scared.

After thoroughly reviewing his case, I discovered that at trial we could use an old form of relief called 212(c) relief. It was phased out years ago but certain convictions still qualify for this defense. I was confident that we would win at trial.

On the day of trial, nearly 25 of my clients’ friends and family arrived at court. We had even more outside. After hearing the testimony, the judge granted my Client 212(c) relief. A cheer went up in the courtroom!

I quickly advised my Client to naturalize, which he did and he is now a U.S. citizen living happily with his wife. He might even go on another cruise someday!

Won Cancellation of Removal for Client from India

I received a call from a woman who was quite upset—and with good reason. She was supposed to be married on Saturday and her husband to be was being detained by ICE. He had gone to O’Hare Airport to pick up a package his father had sent him, which was his wedding suit. At the airport, he encountered immigration officials who had asked to see his ID and it was quickly discovered that he had overstayed his student visa and was no longer attending school.

I assured the woman that I could help but it would take time as do most immigration cases. She was a U.S. citizen so I advised that the couple marry so that she could file a petition for her husband, which she did.

Many times, we can ask that simple case such as this one be dismissed and then adjudicated outside of court. Unfortunately, District Counsel did not want the case to be dismissed so we went to trial. At trial, we showed that the couple was living together as a married couple and that the husband had never been arrested or done anything else that would prevent him from becoming a legal permanent resident, which he did when we won his case!

The Elusive U Visa

The U Visa is the visa developed to assist those who are the victims of a qualifying crime and help the police or other law enforcement in prosecuting the crime. This is a great help to law enforcement to ensure that crime victims are not scared to come forward. Unfortunately, these visas are numerically limited and the wait list is long—many years in fact. We do win them.

A man called my office looking for help with his U Visa. He had been an H-1B employee in the U.S. when his employer began a campaign of harassment against him because he reported the employer for H-1B employment violations. The man had helped the Department of Labor to punish the employer for taking advantage of their H-1B workers. The retaliation my client faced was so bad that he actually had a stroke as a result of the abuse he faced. Now it was my job to get him a U Visa, which I did based on the extreme harassment he suffered. After obtaining the U Visa, my client remained in that status for three years and then we applied for and won his green card. Having status in the U.S. allowed my client to get a better job and to get better healthcare to treat the lingering effects of his stroke. It has not been an easy path for him, but having a green card has made it a lot easier.

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