Rescuing a Family from Deportation
The Yun family was referred to our office by the Korean American Association of Northern Virginia. The situation was desperate for this family which had been placed in removal proceedings after their immigration case had been denied. The family was the victim of fraud perpetrated by a Korean immigration consultant who has defrauded a number of other Koreans in the community. The Yun family had come to the United States when their older daughter was just a baby. Believing the consultant, they decided not to return to Korea in the hopes of a new life in the United States through employment based sponsorship. When the fraud unraveled due to an investigation by the U.S. Government, the family faced removal to Korea which would have been an emotional and financial disaster for the family which now included a new born baby. Our office agreed to accept the case pro bono (free)after meeting with the family and seeing their desperation. There were only two options availableto the family (1) asking the ICE prosecutor to close the case administratively or (2) accept a removal order and then request deferred action to enable the family to continue to work and live in the United States (but under a shadow of the removal order). The first option would leave the family in limbo without the ability to obtain a work permit but without a final removal order, while the second option would necessitate a removal order but would allow the parents to work legally if the deferred action was approved. In other words, there were risks and benefits of both options that had to be carefully considered. But both of these options required our office to present an enormous amount of evidence that the family deserved consideration for either of these benefits for humanitarian reasons. To accomplish this task, David Garfield, first spent many hours with the parents discussing their lives both past and present in order to first understand the complex dynamics of this family. Good immigration work, no matter what the case is about, requires a deep understanding of the client’s situation so that the attorney and clients can work collaboratively to plan a strategy and then gather the evidence to execute the plan. In this case, it was determined that both parents were deeply involved in the Church as members and volunteers. It was also clear that the 4th grade daughter was a very a successful student and deeply attached to the community where she lived, and would face psychological trauma if removed from the United States. Based on this scenario, Mr. Garfield went to the Church and spoke with the pastor who was a strong advocate for the family due to their long service to the congregation. Mr. Garfield assisted with a long and compelling letter on behalf of the church, and then worked with the pastor to connect with the Church’s regional headquarters which had hundreds of sister churches under their umbrella. The regional office agreed to provide a compelling letter for the Yun family. Next, the Church circulated a petition to save the family.The petition was signed by several hundred members of the congregation and more than 50 of these members also sent personal letters pleading for the family. Our office then prepared a compelling letter signed by the President of the American Korean Association, while the family gathered letters of support from their daughter’s school and her pediatrician. We also included a psychological evaluation of the daughter. This broad support and evidence enabled our office to secure a meeting with a U.S. Senator from Virginia. The senator’s representative met with the family and Mr. Garfield and agreed to advocate for the family. With this amazing support, the family decided to risk an order of removal so they could apply for deferred action which would enable them to work and live normally. The deferred action was approved, and three extensions have also been approved since and they no longer live under a shadow of fear while their daughter continues to excel in school. The broad support from the community led to the intervention by a powerful U.S. senator which in the end saved this family from catastrophe. All of this was made possible because of the time spent with the client to deeply understand their situation and their lives.