“Slam Dunk” Case Goes Awry, Family Faces Deportation

Good morning from Memphis, Tennessee.

I am in Blues City on the Mississippi River for a short immigration hearing this morning.  We are on the 8:30 am deportation docket on a case that is very, very old.

Our client came to the U.S. from Palestine almost 20 years ago.  He studied on an F1 visa and eventually obtained his master’s degree.  He began working on his PhD.

One day, our client met with a well-known Tennessee immigration lawyer.  They discussed the client’s immigration options and the lawyer suggested that our client apply for asylum in the U.S.

Asylum is that part of the immigration law that allows individuals from foreign countries who fear persecution if they are to return to their home country.  Asylum cases are very fact-intensive and take a lot of work on the part of the immigration attorney.  But they are also one of the most fulfilling types of cases as you are really fighting for your client’s safety, and perhaps, their life.

As a Palestinian, our client had suffered arrests and abuses from Israeli Defense Forces.  Although our client was unsure as to whether or not the asylum case would succeed, the attorney said, “oh sure, this case is a slam dunk.”

Based upon the lawyer’s suggestion, our client and his family raised their hand, notified USCIS that they were in the U.S. on expiring F1 and F2 visas and that they would like to apply for asylum.

It turns out that the immigration attorney did not do a good job of developing facts in support of our client’s asylum case.  We have reviewed the file and there are several examples of the attorney failing to gather evidence and submitting it on time in support of the asylum case.  This was true despite the fact that our client stood ready, willing and able to provide whatever documents were necessary.

The asylum case was denied.  When your affirmative asylum case is denied by the asylum officer, you have a chance to plead for asylum before the deportation judge.  Our client and his attorney went to immigration court several years ago, but our client’s firm neglected to file all of the evidence by court imposed deadlines.  This led the court to exclude the evidence.

The immigration judge decided that based on the evidence admitted into the record, that our client and his prior attorney failed to establish a likelihood of future persecution.  He ordered our client and his family deported back to Israel.

Through some appeals and legal challenges to the sufficiency of the prior lawyer’s representation, we are now back in court trying to revive some arguments that the prior lawyer flat out missed.

We tell you this sad tale as a warning.  The lawyer was wrong to tell our client that his case was a “slam dunk.”  You should always be worried by any attorney who tells you that your case is a slam dunk.  They may be purposefully trying to deceive you or simply overstating the problems with your case.

In these situations, buyer beware.