This week, I helped Alpa Amin, GAIN’s lead attorney for the immigrant victims of violence program, write and file a motion. Unfortunately, one of our clients is in removal proceedings because she entered the country without inspection. After she entered the country, however, she became a victim of human trafficking. She was forced to do domestic labor for a family for no pay, and was horribly mistreated. She was a minor when she entered, so she was required to go to school. Luckily, a classmate took an interest in her, learned of the situation, and helped her escape the family. Alpa helped this client file for a T-visa about a month ago. If approved, her T-visa will “cancel” the grounds for deportation against her. However, because the removal proceedings are conducted in immigration court, while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the T visa decision, our client still has to appear at her removal proceedings and explain that the court should not deport her while her application is pending. However, the court can also administratively close her removal proceedings without prejudice. This means that because the court can reinitiate removal proceedings should her T visa application be rejected, it can just cancel the removal proceedings in the meantime so that the client does not have to keep going to court and the court does not have to use its precious time and resources in proceedings that would be useless if the visa is approved. Therefore, the motion we filed asks the court grant an administrative closure of our client’s removal proceedings. Fortunately, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) just decided a recent case on administrative closure in which it criticized a lower court for not granting an administrative closure because the defendant had a pending application with USCIS and there was prima facie evidence that the defendant qualified for that application. The BIA reiterated that administrative closure is a positive tool for immigration courts in that it conserves both the time of resources of overburdened immigration courts and does not prevent courts from reinitiating removal proceedings at a later time. It was nice to have such strong case law backing our motion, but ultimately the judge has discretion on whether to grant our motion (which would cancel our client’s hearing and all of her future removal proceedings) or make the client come in and have Alpa argue the motion during the client’s hearing. For the client’s sake, it would be wonderful if the motion was granted, but it would be interesting to have the opportunity to see the hearing and watch Alpa argue the case. To file the motion, we brought three copies to Atlanta’s Immigration Court, which is a nondescript building downtown. We filed one copy with the immigration court clerk (who will give it to the judge), and one copy was filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is considered the “opposing party.” The third copy received a stamp, and was kept for our records. We should know in ten days whether the motion will be approved.
The Clerk Window at Atlanta’s Immigration Court
In my time off this week, my summer roommate and I went to Buford highway to enjoy more delicious ethnic food. We went to this little Vietnamese hole in the wall restaurant where we had the house specialty: pho. Pho is a tasty Vietnamese noodle soup served with various types of protein (I had flank steak, but also available were beef marrow, tripe, shrimp, beef roast, and chicken), bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, and Siracha sauce. It was warming comfort food after a busy week!
For dessert we visited a shop called Paris Baguette Cafe, which, as its name indicates, specializes in French pastries. I tried the gâteau au chocolat, or chocolate cake. It was served with a chocolate macaron, which is a French sandwich cookie made with egg whites that has a filling “sandwiched” between the two cookies. It definitely satisfied my sweet tooth!
Gâteau au Chocolat avec un Macaron