As he was testifying on the stand, Jorge stared blankly, neither looking at the immigration judge nor at me, the counsel for his wife. When asked about how he felt about being separated from his wife, Jorge answered with another question: “What will happen to my boys? They have dreams and a good future. I will not be able to sustain their education as a single parent if you order my wife deported today.”
As a parent myself, I looked at him, teary-eyed. But would the immigration judge sympathize as well and allow Jorge’s wife to stay in the United States?
A false identity
Susan entered the United States with a false identity. She got a green card and eventually became a US citizen. But Susan’s fraudulent misrepresentation eventually caught up with her. She was taken into custody and was criminally prosecuted. Her arrest came after many years had passed—after she had married Jorge and had given birth to two brilliant children who are now teenagers.
With her seemingly valid immigration documents, Susan worked as a caregiver. She received several commendations for her work dedication. Her employer recognized how much she had helped many patients, mostly American children.
For many years, Susan lived like a normal legal resident. But she also admitted she had lived a fearful life, with nightmares of one day being caught for using a ‘false’ identity.
Susan was referred to the immigration court for deportation. She applied for waiver of the fraud.
The waiver application
The Obama administration has prioritized certain individuals for deportation: (1) terrorists and those who are threats to national security; (2) those who have been convicted of serious crimes; and (3) those who have committed fraud. An application for waiver may be filed for those who committed fraud and misrepresentation as it is for those who have committed certain crimes.
An application for waiver requires the applicant to show that a qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship should the applicant be deported.
The qualifying relative should be either a parent or a spouse or both, who is a lawful permanent resident or citizen. The children who were born in the United States, however, may not be considered as “qualifying relatives” for purposes of the waiver application.
Proving extreme hardship
The standards for “extreme hardship” are very high. Among the factors to be considered are: (1) presence of the qualifying relative; (2) conditions in the country of relocation and the qualifying relative’s ties to that country; (3) financial impact of departure; and (4) significant health conditions, particularly when tied to unavailability of suitable medical care in the country of relocation.
The immigration judge will have to weigh and balance all the hardship factors against the nature of the fraud.
In the case of Susan, the qualifying relative was her husband Jorge. Testifying in the immigration court, he related his children’s dreams of becoming professionals and how the children had shared with him their desire to keep the family together. The education, health and social life of the children would be affected should the mother be separated from them.
With Jorge’s tear-jerking testimony, Susan’s remorseful statements on the stand, and other supporting documents, the immigration court granted the waiver. Family reunification prevailed. However, not all waiver applications end happily. Committing fraud is on the priority list for denial of visas and a common reason for deportation, so one must avoid committing fraud and be wary about its adverse consequence.
(Tancinco may be reached at [email protected] or at 8877177 or 7211963 or visit her website at www.tancinco.com)