Yesterday immigrants were handed yet another blow from the current administration by way of the United States Supreme Court. Immigrants from Central America, at least for the time being, are now required to apply for asylum in the countries they travel through on the way to the United States. Now this as a purely logical and legal matter is not with out precedent the United States has had the same policy toward Canada for many years. So on the black letter law the Trump administration may win this one. This win, of course, is not in the spirit of asylum law and belies our history of welcoming refugees. Because Guatemala and Mexico are not Canada. These countries do not have an infrastructure necessary to process refugees and, moreover, in the case of Guatemala, the country conditions are identical to those in the refugees home country. This is a cynical and cruel interpretation of the law, although it may be permitted and “legal.”
Of course what is missing is compassion. Compassion is a magical and wonderful thing to behold. Can it be legislated? Hard to say. Over the last week I witnesses the distinction in two different matters in immigration court. Last week I appeared with a client who committed marriage fraud a number of years ago. She has not committed any other crimes in her life. She is now married to a different United States citizen and has two United States citizen children. She and her husband have a very successful business as well. More importantly, she cooperated with the Department of Homeland Security Investigator and the United States Attorney’s office to assist in their prosecution of a marriage fraud ring. Both the U.S. Attorney and the D.H.I. officer recommended that the government stipulate to the necessary waiver to allow my client to remain in the United States. The government attorney in immigration court relayed this request to the Immigration Judge and proceeded to argue for a grant of the necessary waiver. That said, the judge reserved her decision stating “she had to think about it.” Maybe on black letter law she can deny this case based on her ego or some sort of retribution. Fast forward to this morning. My clients were seeking a hardship waiver based upon a debilitating illness that their daughter suffers. The government attorney, coincidentally the same attorney that appeared on my other matter, agreed to the hardship and announced that immediately. This Immigration Judge gave us a big smile and said “Isn’t it great when we hear that.” I have to admit, I choke up a bit when someone in power shows compassion. It has to come from their heart. It can’t be legislated or mandated.