Attorney Mooradian joined Representative Dan Donahue, Representative Mary Keefe, community leaders, and the Consul General of El Salvador last week to speak to immigrants from El Salvador regarding immigration policy.
Attorney Mooradian provided one-on-one consultations as part of a free clinic in the morning, and then he joined with Attorney Randy Feldman in the afternoon to present on frequently asked questions that he sees as part of his immigration practice.
Attorney Mooradian highlighted several issues around the so-called extreme hardship standard. Many immigrants, particularly those from El Salvador and the Northern Triangle, have been physically present in the United States for over ten years. As such, many of them have heard about the form of immigration relief called Cancellation of Removal.
This form of relief requires that the applicant show:
—continuous physical presence in the United States for more than ten years;
—good moral character
—an extreme hardship to a qualifying relative in their absence
Often times, attorneys or notaries will encourage their clients to pursue this relief even if it is not in the client’s best interests. In order to pursue this form of relief, the client must already be in removal proceedings, that is, already in the process of deportation and scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge. Many legal representatives will purposely file a weak or even frivolous asylum application in order to move the client into removal proceedings. Such a maneuver should almost never be done, as it carries significant risks for the client, including the possibility of removal from the United States. Nonetheless, many clients fall victim to these unethical practices because they are promised a work authorization or lawful status. While true that this process is an avenue to obtain work authorization, it can be extremely risky for those who have never been in removal proceedings or who have not been already identified by immigration authorities.
Additionally, the standard of extreme hardship is difficult to meet. In essence, the client must demonstrate to the court that the qualifying relative cannot survive (within reason) in the absence of the client. Given the high standard, a cancellation of removal case should not be filed in the absence of compelling factual circumstances.
Attorney Mooradian also spoke about the differences between a licensed attorney versus a notary, and about forms of relief for children including special immigrant juvenile status.