Picture yourself in this situation: You’re a man from Mexico who has lived in the United States for 12 years. Your wife is mentally disabled, but you’ve never had her professionally evaluated because you just didn’t have the money. She has temper tantrums, she refuses to shower, she forgets to eat and it’s clear to everyone who knows her that she needs you in order to survive. She’s also a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
You can’t apply for adjustment of status because you’ve left and re-entered the United States repeatedly without authorization. In November, you get arrested for Driving Under the Influence. It’s your second such arrest in 15 years. ICE comes and places you in the Stewart Detention Center. Your wife is now in the care of cousins who want to help, but whose patience is limited.
A CASE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS DOCUMENTS
There’s no medical documentation to show that this man’s wife’s condition is as bad as it sounds. Without those records, the ICE attorneys decline to exercise prosecutorial discretion. The Deportation Officer also declines to assist. The client cannot get a bond because of the recent DUI conviction. He is stuck in Stewart until he either wins his case or he is deported.
The client decided to take an order of removal. He felt that fighting to stay in the United States would be too expensive, too difficult, and the chances of success were too small. Our last hope for reuniting the client with his wife was a request for Stay of Removal – asking ICE, in their mercy, to not remove him to Mexico for a few months so that he can get his affairs in order.
The Deportation Officer called me with an offer a few days after we filed the Stay. ICE offered to pay for two tickets to Mexico – one for the client and one for his wife. There was no guarantee if the client would actually be able to see his wife before they were reunited at the airport. The offer was only good for a few hours. The client had to decide whether to take this offer or to wait for a decision on the Stay – and of course, hope that it would be granted.
If he took the offer, the odds are that his wife would never return to the United States. It would be too expensive and difficult for her to travel. She would, therefore, lose her lawful permanent resident status. But, they would at least be together.
If he didn’t take the offer and the Stay was denied, he would be deported within a few days. His wife would remain in the United States, potentially ending up in a group home when the family could no longer care for her. But, if the Stay were granted, he would be able to take care of his wife, help her obtain U.S. citizenship, and prepare to leave the United States with dignity.
What would you do?