Your Family Member’s Illness: Should You Put Yourself Into Deportation Proceedings?

Your Family Member’s Il…

At our law firm, some new clients make an appointment to ask us about starting a “Cancellation of Removal,” or a “Ten-Year Case.” Most of the time, they have heard about this from a friend, or even from a notario (non-attorney) or an attorney. It requires the client to give him/herself up to DHS by applying for asylum, and then undergo removal (deportation) proceedings.

We do not ever recommend that a client try to follow this route.

Why some people are considering it

They have heard they could win a green card if their spouse, parent or child is very ill. Families who have members with severe medical or mental conditions and disabilities are already under considerable strain, and the threat of deportation can be crushing. If they can turn this medical/mental situation around and use it to secure permanent safety for their family, then it does sound attractive.

Also, they hear you can get a work permit. Sometimes they are even promised to have that work permit “within months” of applying.

Some people don’t even have a family member with a serious condition; instead, they hear that if they have been here for a long time, have paid taxes, are good citizens and have other U.S. citizens to recommend them, then they can petition to stay here.

Why we don’t recommend doing it

If you give yourself up to DHS for this type of case, you will have to go to Immigration Court and defend yourself in removal (deportation) proceedings. ICE will have an attorney to argue against your case—even if you think it is a good case.

The law is written so that very, very few cases are granted. The Judge is looking for cases with “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” In very basic terms, this means that a parent, spouse or child in your family (who is a U.S. citizen or resident) will die or suffer horribly if you leave the country. The stakes are high– if you lose, you will be deported from the U.S.

Court cases can take five years or longer. If you base your case on a family member who is very ill, it is possible that your member’s condition will improve during this long period of time. Or worse, it is possible your family member will pass away while you are waiting for your case to be heard. In either situation, you won’t have a basis for your case and you will lose.

While you are waiting for your case to be heard, the law could change and eliminate this type of route to get a green card, but you still will have to defend yourself from deportation. Also, the appeals courts are not allowed to consider most types of denials on these cases, so you have limited chances if the Judge does not grant your case.

How to avoid doing this by accident

Commonly, a notario or an attorney will start the process by filing an asylum application on your behalf. Many times it will contain a false claim for asylum, which carries a significant punishment. Several clients report that this form is filed for them without even knowing it, because no one translated the form to them. Or it was done without their knowledge, by calling it a “work permit application.” Always take time to review immigration forms, and have someone you trust translate it to you. Ask questions, and read the government website (it’s available in Spanish too) about the purpose of this form.

In many cases, the notario or the attorney will put down their own address on the form, instead of your mailing address. They will claim this is to “protect” you, but instead it forces you to be reliant on them and continue to pay them money. Make sure your own mailing address is filled in on any immigration form—ALL forms ask for your mailing address.

After the asylum application is filed, USCIS will send you an appointment notice in the mail to the address on your application. In many cases, the notario or attorney fails to notify the client about the appointment. If your asylum claim is not granted at that appointment, then you are issued a notice to appear in Immigration Court for deportation proceedings. It goes to that same address on your form. Sometimes people don’t realize they are required to attend these hearings, or they don’t even know to expect such a notice. If you fail to attend a hearing, ICE will search for you—even raid your home or place of employment– and deport you.

Always make sure you understand the strategy and risks in your case, and ask plenty of questions. The chances of winning these types of cases in Immigration Court is extremely low, and the likelihood of stress, financial costs and deportation is very high. While we do step in and handle many of these cases for people who already have been caught up in deportation proceedings, we do not turn in clients and start these cases, for the above reasons.