Hey. It’s Jim Hacking, immigration attorney practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Today’s topic is, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” What do I mean by this? Well, this is an old phrase my grandma used to say when I was a kid and she would tell us that just because there’s something that you could do doesn’t mean that you should do it.
In the immigration context, we’re seeing this more and more lately. We’ve had a couple of people contact our office in the last few weeks who found themselves in big immigration issues, big mistakes that they made because they filed without an attorney and they didn’t really think through their situation. Most of the time, this comes up with someone who had received their green card or an immigration benefit that they might not necessarily have deserved.
We had a young man contact us from California who has a green card. He got it through marriage. He since divorced the person that sponsored him. He was ordered deported a long time ago, but because his home country has problems and would have probably persecuted him, he was granted what’s called “withholding of removal” which means that the Judge ordered him removed, but the Judge said that he could stay.
Now, that happened ten years ago, fifteen years ago, but he didn’t get the green card through his marriage after that and now, he decided to apply for citizenship. After I met with this man and I went through all the facts of his case, I said to him, “You know, if you’d come to see me, I would have told you ‘Don’t apply for citizenship.’ You’ve got a good thing going with this green card. I’m frankly surprised that you have it. You’re being able to travel in and out of the United States and I understand you wanted to get your citizenship.
I understand that it’s, as you say, ‘a hassle’ to not have your citizenship.” I always encourage people to get their citizenship because it’s usually the safest route for them, but in this particular case, because of the man’s immigration history, he probably shouldn’t have applied for citizenship. Now, his case is pending. It’s actually on a bit of an administrative appeal and we think that the best that might be to withdraw that case.
In another situation, I got an angry e-mail from a fellow down in Florida and it’s funny because in the e-mail, he was telling me over and over how wrong he was, how sad he was that his citizenship case had been denied. I said, “Okay. Well, I’m sorry that you’re upset. I’m sorry that you feel that you’ve been wronged by the USCIS. They make a lot of mistakes. That doesn’t really surprise me. Why don’t you send me a copy of the decision so that I can take a look at it and see?”
The decision came in yesterday by fax and it’s three pages long. It turns out that this fellow probably has about twenty traffic or criminal citations over the last twelve years. Now, a lot of that history doesn’t really belong in the analysis when you’re applying for citizenship, but with that long pattern of eighteen or twenty interactions with law enforcement, citations for violating the law, that’s the real problem.
I don’t really understand why this fellow is being upset or indignant about his situation. I’m going to tell him today that he’s not going to win any appeal with those facts, that he needs good five-year stint of not having any kind of criminal or traffic problems. Then if he does that, then he can reapply for citizenship, but in the case’s current condition, there is no way that if he were to appeal it that it would be granted.
There’s some real wisdom in this. What I’m saying is sort of a more nuanced, sophisticated approach. A lot of people will go see immigration attorneys and the immigration attorney will just automatically say, “Oh, yeah. You should appeal.” Or they won’t even see an immigration attorney. They won’t get that free consultation where they get advice from an attorney who knows what they’re talking about. They’ll just sort of do it because it’s time to do it or because they think they deserve it and that’s really a bad approach to things.
Most attorneys will give you that free consultation, take what they say with a grain of salt. Listen to what they say, but really listen to see if they are sounding like they know what they’re talking about and ask yourself, “Are they just telling me what I want to hear or are they giving me good advice?” Because we are attorneys and counselors at law and the counselor part is becoming a bigger and bigger aspect of it as I get to be an older attorney. I see myself not only just filling out forms and telling people what their rights are, but also, trying to educate them on what the best course of action is.
I hope that this video was helpful. If you have any questions about your particular case, if you’re sort of on the fence about whether or not to apply for an immigration benefit, go slowly. Take your time. Unless you’re up against the deadline, you’re generally not going to have to rush and talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about. Make sure they make a good decision and just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Give us a call at the office, 314-961-8200 or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and have a good day.