Everything in immigration has become much more difficult than any time in the past and the consequences of making a mistake or disagreeing with the government are severe. There are two new government policies that have drastically changed the environment of immigration. First is the proposal relating to denials due to being considered a “Public Charge” and the second is the "Zero Tolerance" policy put in effect last month.
On September 11, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an updated policy relating to their denial powers. Immigration agents now have authority to deny requests or applications without giving applicants an opportunity to fix oversights or explain how the evidence they submitted meets the applicable law. Government agents can arbitrarily deny requests and close files without prior notice or without allowing applicants to cure these simple issues. This new policy applies to all applications, petitions, requests or processes within the authority of USCIS.
I expect this will lead to lots of litigation because I believe both policies violate due process protections under the Constitution. The question next is, what can be done to survive this current harsh climate? One way we do this is by obtaining as much client history as possible before filing an application. Sometimes clients don’t remember their entire history or are unsure whether an interaction with the government was immigration related or what exactly happened. This is why we commonly make record requests from the government. Although it sometimes takes up to a year to obtain the records, it is better to be sure of what the file says before taking a step that could lead to someone’s deportation.
So, why should I do a records request before filing for an immigration process?
1. It is the only way to truly know what problems you have in your file.
2. The Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency (ICE) is now showing up to green card interviews and arresting people with immigration problems in their files. There are many examples in the news within the last 6 months.
3. What happen if I have previous deportations? It is important to consult with an immigration attorney to explore your options since there are a number of things that can be done for you depending on what exactly happened.