Attorney Mooradian recently secured lawful permanent residence for his client at trial. The respondent in the case was a young man from El Salvador. The respondent had entered the United States many years ago as a young teenager after fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse in his country of origin.
The respondent was granted special immigrant juvenile status during the representation by previous counsel. After obtaining that status, the Department of Homeland Security made allegations that the respondent was a verified MS-13 gang member and moved to re-calendar the case for court proceedings. At that point, Attorney Mooradian entered his appearance for the respondent.
Approximately two years ago, Attorney Mooradian appeared before the immigration court and argued that the gang allegations against his client were without merit. In particular, he submitted a motion in limine to the court and argued that the allegations were unsubstantiated, unauthenticated, and unreliable, given that the allegations were based on hearsay evidence and the respondent had no opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses against him. While the Immigration Judge did not rule in favor of the motion in limine, she did terminate immigration proceedings such that the client could apply for permanent residence with the immigration agency.
Approximately one year later, Homeland Security Investigations arrested the client suddenly at his home and held him in immigration detention. Attorney Mooradian responded quickly in an effort to build a strong case to argue for permanent residence as a matter of the court's discretion. Eventually, the case moved forward to a trial on the detained docket of the Boston Immigration Court.
During the course of trial, DHS presented a packet of evidence against the client, including a previous criminal charge, associations with known gang members, and allegations of fraud with respect to an employment authorization. Meanwhile, Attorney Mooradian had gathered significant evidence of the client's character, including evidence of his work history, in order to rebut the gang allegations. Attorney Mooradian also prepared a substantial declaration detailing the client's life history and future goals in the United States, and addressing a single criminal charge against him. The client was well-prepared to testify to the court, and the client presented as remorseful for past infractions and as rehabilitated from those mistakes. And, very importantly, Attorney Mooradian called into question the evidentiary weight that should be given to the gang allegations, which relied on unsigned police reports, conclusory statements without any description of the methodologies used, and significant hearsay.
Ultimately, the Immigration Judge found that the client was credible. The client had experienced a tumultuous upbringing, including gang violence against his family members and threats against himself. Further, the client had been severely abused by his father. Despite these challenges early in life, he had a relatively minimal criminal history, and he had made great strides in the workplace. The Immigration Judge determined that the respondent had rebutted the gang allegations against him by a preponderance of evidence. Given that the client was prima facie eligible for adjustment of status (a green card) and that the case turned on the Immigration Judge's discretion, the Judge decided to grant permanent residence instead of returning this young person to his dangerous country of origin.
Now, the client plans to return to work; his work authorization has already been renewed, and in a short period of time, he will receive his green card from the immigration agency.