Things always stay interesting at the Hacking Immigration Law. This week, we met with a family whose son finds himself in deportation proceedings. He pled guilty to narcotics distribution several years ago and just completed a long jail sentence. ICE picked him up from prison and removal proceedings are about to begin.
Shortly after meeting with the family, we realized that we might have a conflict in the representation. So we respectfully turned down the case. But it was interesting to hear what some other immigration and deportation attorneys - both here in St. Louis, Missouri and out of state - had to say when pitching their services.
You should know that this is a tough case. After the immigration laws were amended in 1996, most drug convictions will result in a green card holder losing their lawful permanent resident status and being placed in deportation proceedings. Also, much of the discretionary relief that is sometimes available is generally not available for green card holders convicted of selling drugs. These same changes in the law also made it very difficult for someone to be released from custody on bond while their deportation case is pending.
And this is a sad case as well. Imagine if you fled your home country due to persecution and war and then raised your son here in the United States. Due to his bad decision to break the law, he not only spent significant time in federal prison, he now faces a forced return back home to face violence and more persecution. Safe to say that the family of this young man wasparticularly vulnerable to possible exploitation by an immigration attorney.
The family had met with a well-respected St. Louis immigration attorney. This attorney played it straight and told the family how this was a difficult case. The attorney discussed a few possible avenues of relief but explained to the family that it was a tough case. He told them how much he would charge, which seemed reasonable.
On the other hand, one of the family members flew out west to meet with a "nationally known" immigration attorney. This apparently unscrupulous attorney made all sorts of promises regarding how he could help keep the fellow from being deported, how he could get the kid out on bail and how the kid would be able to keep his green card. Surprise, surprise, this attorney's fee was almost three times as much as the local attorney who had given straight advice to the family. Wisely, the family did not hire this attorney, although they were still considering him.
We see this from time to time - attorneys promising the moon while asking exhorbitant fees. We see it not only in the immigration context, but in some of the criminal cases we come across. The takeaway from all of this is that you really, really, really have to ask good questions when interviewing an attorney. Don't trust everything they say and verify to the best of what you can. I'm not suggesting that you decide simply on price, I'm just suggesting that you beware of people who promise you the moon.
Our approach at the Hacking Immigration Law is to tell you the worst case scenario and work backwards from there. It is much better to be up front with the client and we would do nothing less. It would be unfair to promise a person in such dire circumstances things that are not actually possible. So buyer beware !
If you are facing deportation and need an experienced immigration attorney, please contact us at 314-961-8200 or go to our contact page here.