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Open letter to the Immigration Judge

Updated on December 27, 2011

An Open letter to the Immigration Judge

Hidden away from the public eye are thousands of immigrants, many of whom are not only documented but have already been granted Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) in the United States. For many. legal fees are unaffordable. Their cases have merit but ignorance of the law and lack of funds can easily be the reason that one loses the opportunity to live the American dream, not only for themselves but also for their US born children.

Congress provided for a Bill of RIghts for non-citizens in immigration custody. One of these is a right to legal reference materials. Many facilities that I have had experience with do have a well-equiped law library; however, the irony is that the Law reference materials are now software-based. This is all well and good but it presupposes that all these immigrants:

1. know how to use a computer

2. know how to do legal research

3. are a match for the DHS prosecutor who graduated with a Bachelor's degree and then went

on to study law and having graduated has had extensive practice at prosecuting

immigration cases.

The Bill of Rights allows immigrants to assist each other. In these circumstances the Law does not deem the party helping to be practicing law without a license as they would otherwise. Below is a sample of a letter one of my friends wrote to the judge under my guidance. I have changed all material aspects of the letter to protect their privacy even though I do have permission to publish the same here.

The purpose for doing this is that we would reach out to the community of the voiceless immigrant, particularly those who are being held without the resources to seek and pay for Bond; for those whose crimes do not deem them deportable and for those who have no idea where they fall.

Having encountered first-hand the suffering that these women are subjected to and through them, their families, it is my sincere hope that firstly, the Dream Act will be enacted and enacted as soon as possible and secondly that the Immigration Reform will become a reality.

I cannot emphasize enough that this is not intended to give legal advice to anyone. Immigration is such a complex area of the law and one should seek the advice of an attorney. If one cannot afford one there are pro bono lawyers out there that are doing a great job.

For anyone else, my advice is to read up on the law and if you find yourself before the judge, be honest about your circumstances and appeal to the honorable court's mercy in granting your request.

Once again, this is simply a sample of a letter the likes of which we wrote to the Judge.

Ms IVS (Imigrant Voice Advocate)

Back of Beyond, FL 39911

October 20th, 2009

The Hon. Immigration Judge

The Immigration Court

U.S. Department of Justice

777 10th Street

US City, FL 39910

The Honorable Judge,

Re: Redetermination of my Custody: A011 222 333

My name is IVA, a former Colombian citizen but now proud to call the United States home.

Your Honor, I humbly draw the attention of the Honorable Court to Section 244 (a) (1) of the INA Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254 (a) (1) which provides:

1. “that the Attorney General may, in his discretion, suspend deportation … the case of one who applies to the Attorney General for suspension of deportation and

2. … is deportable under any law in the United States…; has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of seven years immediately preceding the date of such application,

3. proves that during all such time he was and is good character; and

4. is a person whose deportation would result in extreme hardship to the alien or spouse… or child who is a citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted permanent resident.”

Your Honor, I am applying for the cancellation of my removal;

  • I was lawfully admitted as a US permanent resident on May 18th, 1988;
  • I have been physically in the United States for more than 20 years;
  • I am a person of good character who struggles with some addictions for which I am seeking treatment and counseling;
  • In the unfortunate event that I was deported to Colombia, my family, comprising the following:

· My US citizen husband and

· Our young daughter who is a Lawful Permanent Resident

would suffer extreme hardship from being separated from me. We are a close-knit family that would be completely torn asunder by my deportation.

Your Honor, our daughter is very young and I would not leave her behind, particularly so, knowing that it could be ten years before I could re-apply to return to the United States. This would totally devastate this little girl.

However, if I were to take her with me, Your Honor, I would be depriving her of the comfortable and loving home she has known all her life with both parents and be reduced to a single parent existence. My husband, much as he would love to accompany me, would be greatly disadvantaged were he to relocate as he could not find gainful employment in the Colombia that would financially sustain our family.

Both my husband and our daughter would have to give up everything they are used to here, including their home, friends, creature comforts and ease of lifestyle as well as the certainty of good and available medical care. Our daughter would be giving up a good education system that she is familiar with; she would be moving to a country that predominantly speaks Spanish but in a dialect different from that which she is used to. Such changes for a young child can only be detrimental to her wellbeing.

Your Honor, I also urge you to consider that I am willing and determined to get into a drug treatment program with a view to breaking the cycle of drug problems.

Further, through Biblical counseling I now have the understanding of submission to authority that I did not have before. I trust that what I have learned here is going to be of tremendous help in keeping me focused on doing the right thing and staying disciplined.

Your Honor, while I accept that I have made mistakes, I feel that deportation as the punishment would be much more than fits the crime in my case; it would be bold, harsh and cruel punishment for me. Again, I urge you to accept that my mistakes are a result of drug addiction; in itself a disease as incapacitating as any other and one that requires treatment. I will take treatment, Your Honor.

American jurists have held views about the very nature of deportation that are well worth summarizing here:

In Mahler v. Eby, 264 U.S. 32, 39, 68 L. Ed. 549, 44 S. Ct 283 (1924) the Court stated thus: “It is well settled that deportation, while it may be burdensome and severe for the alien, is not a punishment.”

However, on the other hand, it seems the more popular thinking may be seen in the following decisions:

Deportation may result in “loss…of all that makes life worth living ” Ng Fung Ho v. White, 259 U.S. 276, 284, 66 L. Ed. 938, 42 S. Ct. 492 (1922), and is “close to punishment,” Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 531, 98 L. Ed. 911, 74 S. Ct. 737 (1954).

“Every one knows that to be forcibly taken away from home, and family and friends, and business, and property and sent across the ocean to a distant land is punishment; and oftentimes most sever and cruel”. Fong Yue Ting v. U.S., 149 U.S. at 740 (Brewer, J., dissenting); “Deportation is “a penalty” and “a drastic measure and at times the equivalent of banishment or exile” Fong Haw Tan v. Phelan 333 U.S. 6, 10, 92 L. Ed. 2d 886 (1951) Jackson J., dissenting (“a life sentence of banishment”).

Your Honor, I cite these sentiments of members of the Bench to make a persuasive argument that deportation in my case would amount to a life sentence of banishment and exile in a country I barely know and have little if any ties to at all and or whatsoever.

Please allow me to present my application for the Cancellation of Removal, Form 42A. I make this application under the provisions of Section 240 A (a) of the Immigration and nationality Act (INA). I believe that I am eligible for this relief because I have been a lawful permanent resident alien for 20 years and have lived here in the United States continuously for the past 20 years. I have not been convicted of an aggravated felony.

Secondly, Your Honor, I realize that the calendar of the honorable court is very full at this time. I am asking for Bond so that I can continue treatment at I await my individual hearing.

Your Honor, I am not a flight risk; I have ties to the community and the desire and inclination to come back to Court for my hearing. It will be in my interest to come back to the Court. Indeed, it would absolutely foolhardy for me to fail to come as that would automatically attract a final order of deportation. I believe that my charges and or convictions do not preclude me from requesting Bond and the Honorable Court granting the same.

I thank you most sincerely for your consideration and look forward to my day in your Court.

Thankfully and respectfully submitted,


IVA A# 022 333 999

c.c. The Assistant Chief Counsel DHS-ICE

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

777 10th Street Suite # 101

US City, FL 39910

Certificate of Service

I, IVA, Do Hereby Certify that I have caused this letter to be served upon the party named below via the US Postal Service:

The Assistant Chief Counsel DHS-ICE

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

777 10th Street Suite # 101

US City, FL 39910


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      Howard Schneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very beautiful and compassionate Hub, Zenani. We need much more open and fair immigration laws in the United States. The system is stacked against most.