I wanted to briefly share this awesome victory this afternoon for a client who has been with the firm for over two years. When you hear the President talk about deporting felons, not families, sometimes those words are not mutually exclusive. And sometimes (not all the time) the person deserves a break.
Our client (let’s call her Mica) came to the United States still in her teens, got her permanent resident card, and married a U.S. citizen. She had 6 children who are all U.S. citizens. By now she has 22 grandchildren, all of whom are U.S. citizens. She lived and worked in the United States for years, paid her taxes, broke no laws, and eventually had to retire because of a back injury. Mica then helped raise several of her grandchildren but has been in and out of a wheelchair for the last 5 years. She has also battled cancer twice, the most recent time having to have high-risk surgery and leaving her without complete control over her body. She needs regular kidney treatment and has no remaining family in Mexico. She owns a home in rural Missouri and is well-loved in her community.
This is not someone who should be deported.
So why was the government trying to deport her? Well, several years ago someone mailed a package of marijuana to Mica’s home. It was a sting. Several of her adult children were at her home, and the police arrested all of them (including Mica). Mica ended up pleading guilty to the smallest marijuana possession offense under Missouri law – 1 to 35 grams (a Misdemeanor).
The problem is that the immigration statute says even permanent residents can be deported for possessing more than 30 grams of marijuana. 8 USC 1227(a)(2)(B)(i). We argued that because Mica’s conviction was for 1 to 35 grams, the government hadn’t proven it was more than 30 (it could have been for less). The judge disagreed.
The only option left was to apply for “cancellation of removal.” This remedy is only available if a person has been a permanent resident for more than 5 years, has been present more than 7 years after being admitted in any status, and doesn’t have a crime that would be considered an Aggravated Felony. But those are just the minimum requirements; just being eligible isn’t enough to actually win. People lose, even when they’re eligible, especially if their crimes are serious and they can’t show significant equities in their favor.
We rolled up our sleeves and put together as much evidence I could come up with about what quality person Mica is. We admitted to her conviction but we also showed that she is a grandmother who has raised her grandchildren, and that they will all lose if she is deported to live the rest of her years in Mexico, alone and likely bound to a hospital because of the lack of quality in-home care there.
I am happy to report that today we won. In the end, the government prosecutor could see that this person was not a danger and was going to have an incredibly difficult time if deported. Her ongoing kidney treatments alone could make the trip fatal to her. The result is that Mica gets to stay in the United States with her grandchildren and her children.
When you hear Donald Trump talk about deporting everyone, consider who that might include when you try to envision the cargo trains and fleets of buses it would take to accomplish such a feat.