This week I was able to observe the client intake interviews that I helped coordinate last week, and I also was able to conduct the first part of two intakes by myself. While each intake is different, just as every client is different and has different needs and different questions, all of GAIN’s client intake interviews start with explaining GAIN as an organization and that with the help of volunteer attorneys, we would like to help with their legal immigration issues. We also try to verify some basic information about the client such as their contact information and anything that might impact their application for immigration relief down the road. For example, we try to verify what type or types of relief for which they could qualify. We also ask them about anything in their background that could trigger an “inadmissibility factor” under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). Section 212 of the INA lists these inadmissibility factors which include health related bars (e.g., carriers of communicable disease, people suffering mental illness, or drug abusers), several types of criminal bars (e.g. crimes involving moral turpitude, and offenses relating to controlled substances), immigration violation related bars (e.g. entering the United States without inspection, obtaining entry by using fraudulent documents or falsely claiming citizenship, violating the terms of a visa by overstaying or working without a permit), economic related bars (i.e. if a person would be a public charge and thus a burden on the welfare system), and some other miscellaneous bars (e.g. draft evaders, polygamists, unlawful voters, etc.).
This week we had a few clients that we learned could trigger inadmissibility factors. One client, for example was told by a coyote (a human smuggler who helps bring people, called pollos (chickens) because they are often exploited by the coyote, across the border) when they were caught by border patrol to say she was from Houston, Texas. This could trigger the inadmissibility factor of making a false claim to citizenship in order to obtain entry to the United States. As a result, although we originally that the best form of relief for her would be VAWA, we might have to apply for a U-visa for her instead. This is because there is a form called an I-192 that allows “forgiveness” of certain inadmissibility factors for U or T visa applicants. The theory behind this “forgiveness” is that these victims are often either forced to participate in criminal activity or are brought to the United States without proper documents or inspection.
Another client presented with a lot of inadmissibility factors in the form of crimes. Her case is especially interesting because she is Cuban and came to the United States during the Mariel Boatlift. During the Cold War, President Fidel Castro allowed thousands of Cubans to leave Cuba through the Mariel Harbor for the United States where they were granted refugee status by President Carter’s administration. Our client, unfortunately lost the permanent residency status that she received as a child through this program because of criminal charges. However, because of Cuba’s status, after she served her prison sentence, she could not be deported to Cuba, which is normally what happens when an immigrant commits a crime that makes him or her inadmissible. Instead, she was put under an order of supervision which means she must check in with an immigration officer every few months. However, this year she had a horrible, violent crime happen to her, which could make her eligible for a U-visa. Plus, with U.S. and Cuba relations warming, there is no guarantee that she can stay under the order of supervision forever: Cuba might start accepting the return of its citizens from the U.S. She has been helping law enforcement try to identify her attackers, and they referred her to GAIN for help with the U-visa to try to ensure that she can stay in the U.S. and get the treatment she needs to recover from the crime committed against her. Obtaining a U-visa could be her second chance and would allow her to be a productive member of American society. It will be challenging to try to have her criminal charges forgiven as inadmissibility factors, but GAIN will see what it can do with her case.
During my time off this weekend, I went to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. It was quite an experience. Most of the farmer’s markets I have been to are small collections of little stalls selling individual vendor’s products, but the Dekalb Farmer’s market was enormous and operated under one supplier. It was in a larger warehouse that reminded me of a Costco, but with fresh, local, and international foods in a bustling atmosphere. They had everything you could imagine, and even a few items I had never seen before. For example, they had jack fruit, which is large spiky fruit from Mexico that was the size of a watermelon. They also had a wide variety of flowers, meats, fish, bakery products, spices, and pre-packaged food from all over the world. I was tempted by everything, but settled on some homemade granola, pineapple (that they peeled in cored in front of me), squash, zucchini, and an eggplant.
Flowers at the Farmers Market
Fishmonger and Butcher Section
International Flair of Dekalb’s Farmers Market
Originally when I picked up the eggplant, I planned on roasting it with the squash and zucchini, but when I saw the fresh pasta section, I decided to make something that I have always wanted to try my hand at making: eggplant parmesan. So I also picked out pasta, some ingredients for sauce, basil, breadcrumbs, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. While time consuming, making the eggplant parmesan was a lot of fun and turned out really well. Plus, now I have a dinner for the entire week that is delicious and full of fresh, local ingredients!
Step 1: Dredging Eggplant Disks in Flour, Egg, and Herby Breadcrumbs
Step 2: Frying the Disks in Oil
Step 3: Making Tomato Sauce
Step Four: Layering the Cooked Eggplant with Sauce, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Fresh Basil
Step 5: After Baking, Serve with Dekalb Farmer’s Market Fresh Pasta and Buon Appetito!