Anthony T. Locke 2013-05-03 00:18:06
No Vacations Allowed Anthony T. Locke, an associate with Maria Jones Law Firm, received his B.A. in political science and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 2008. While in school, he was fortunate to travel abroad to Spain. Locke entered the legal profession by attending William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota. While there, he focused part of his studies on immigration law. He was active in the Latino Law Student Association and was president of the Spanish club. Locke was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his family still resides. He has always been influenced by his grandfather’s story of how he entered the United States from Mexico and eventually became a United States citizen. He feels he can help make a difference in the lives of immigrants that are trying to make a life for themselves in the United States, just like his grandfather. Locke speaks both Spanish and English. For more information, visit www.mariajoneslawfirm.com or call 602-636-1200. 202 East Earll Drive, Suite 370 Phoenix, Arizona 85012 Given the opportunity to provide advice to someone planning to enter the country illegally, I would offer four very important morsels of information. First, do not use drugs. Second, do not smuggle anyone into the country. Third, do not claim to be a United States citizen. And last, but not least, do not go on vacation after you enter. Any of these particular cases may destroy your future immigration opportunities. Wait. Was that last part serious? Absolutely. After you enter the country illegally, and reside here for at least a year, do not think of briefly leaving the country to visit your family, to enjoy some sun, to see your sick mom, or to hold your father’s hand on his deathbed. This is because of the “(9)(C) bar.” Basically, if you enter the country illegally and stay for more than a year, then leave and re-enter illegally, then you earn a ten-year punishment for which no waiver exists. The moment that you illegally return to the United States of America, you severely affect your chances of adjusting status in the future. If you remained outside the United States after you leave, or never left, then there is still a waiver for you. “Under section 212(a)(9)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, an alien is inadmissible if the alien enters or attempts to enter the United States without admission after having been removed or after having accrued more than one year (in the aggregate) of unlawful presence.”1 Under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, an alien who accrues more than a year of unlawful presence and never leaves the country, or leaves and does not re-enter, may obtain a waiver if they are the spouse, son, or daughter of a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident.2 This particular law has had a crippling effect upon the lives of immigrants hoping to adjust their status through the proper methods permitted by this nation. One of the main methods utilized to adjust status outside of the courtroom is consular processing. Consular processing involves a United States citizen or permanent resident that submits a petition on behalf of an immigrant. Because this particular immigrant has entered the country illegally, they must return to their country of origin to complete the process and earn their permanent resident status. When an immigrant uses this process and has this “(9)(C) bar,” then they are ineligible to complete the process. There is no waiver for this particular punishment, unlike the “(9)(B) bar” for those who did not re-enter illegally. Furthermore, when they discover this at their interview in their country of origin, then they will be stuck there, not allowed to return to their family member who petitioned for them in the first place. Because there is no other way to continue living here in the United States, this law demonstrates exactly why some people circumvent the law to return to their families. Every day, I meet clients that have hopes and dreams of becoming a lawful permanent resident or a citizen of the United States through consular processing. I enter the room and see their faces aglow, waiting to hear my words to affirm these hopes. However, I often see that these particular people have entered the country illegally twice, thereby earning the “(9)(C) bar.” They had various reasons for going back to their country—to visit family for the weekend, to enjoy a vacation with their children under the Mexican sun, to see their sick mother, or to hold their father’s hand on his deathbed. However, for these immigrants, that trip has ruined their chances to become a lawful permanent resident for the next ten years. With no way to bypass this particular punishment, their only remedy is to leave the country and remain outside of the United States for ten years and then ask for permission to re-enter the country and begin the consular process afresh. Whether or not the government caught them when they re-entered is not a question for us attorneys. When we hear and understand when they entered and exited, we must calculate this time and inform these clients of the result of this particular law. They will be denied because there is no waiver for such a punishment. I see their dreams dashed away each day in those consultations. I hear their United States citizen spouse’s complaints as they wonder why their status is a non-factor in these cases. These immigrants are left with a choice. Obey the law and split up their families only to be law-abiding, or to remain here in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, ever worrying that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may catch them. This is a draconian law whose impact far exceeds its intended purpose. It punishes a United States citizen for marrying someone who has this punishment, as well as punishing the immigrant. As the federal government continues to discuss possible immigration reform, I hope our legislators will deeply consider the effects this law has on both citizens and immigrants. Moreover, I hope that this particular law is repealed. It would be a victory for citizen rights. It would be a victory for immigrants trying to obey the law.
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