Today, Immigration Judge Elizabeth Kessler granted our client Mr. LCM adjustment of status and a waiver of inadmissibility due to misrepresentations he made in the 1990s. After 26 years in the U.S., Mr. LCM was granted residence, ensuring that he can remain in the U.S. with his permanent resident wife and four U.S. citizen children. For Benach Collopy, it ends a case that began in 2007 (two law firms ago!) and tested the patience and commitment of everyone involved.
LCM came to the U.S. in 1986, before the Sierra Leonean civil war began in 1991. Mr. LCM had already married his wife and had his first child. Unable to support his family in Sierra Leone, Mr. LCM came to the U.S. to study and find work. Like many immigrants, he found that the streets were not paved with gold, but that they could be tough and unforgiving. But Mr. LCM was tougher and worked menial and strenuous jobs to make a better life for himself and his family. His wife joined him within two years, but the couple left their daughter with family so they could both work. After several years in the U.S. and with little to show for all his hard work, Mr. LCM made the mistake that would define his life in America for the next two decades. He sought the easy route and married an American to obtain residence. But Mr. LCM was no con artist and could not keep it up. The scheme unraveled at the then-INS office with the truth being divulged. The case was closed and Mr. LCM continued his life in America, unmolested by the agency. During the 1990s, LCM’s wife obtained her residence. LCM had to explain to his wife what he had done and why he thought he was ineligible for residence. By this time, the couple had another child and war was raging in Sierra Leone. Disappointed but committed to her husband, LCM’s wife knew that that single episode did not define her husband. The couple had twins in the 90s. With four mouths to feed, Mr. and Mrs. LCM went back to work.
In 2007, Mr. LCM came to see us. He was tired of not having legal status and was willing to risk everything for a chance to correct his status. Mr. LCM knew that he could either get residence or be ordered removed and that there were no guarantees. We filed adjustment of status for him as a derivative of his wife’s employment-based petition. We filed an application for a waiver of inadmissibility due to misrepresentation. Mr. LCM came clean and explained that he made a terrible choice as a young man when he married the American woman and asked for forgiveness from the U.S. government due to the challenges that his family would face if he were returned to Sierra Leone. At the time, Mrs. LCM had gone to nursing school and Mr. LCM was the sole breadwinner as his children were in college. The Citizenship & Immigration Service denied his application for a waiver and placed him into removal proceedings before the Immigration Court.
Today the Court heard Mr. LCM tearfully describe his remorse for his error in front of his entire family and listened to Mrs. LCM try to explain how she would try to get by without her husband of 25 years. Even the attorney for Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) was moved and explained to the court that ICE would not oppose a grant. Free from the possibility of appeal, the Judge happily said that she would grant the case. A happy ending to a classic immigrant story. This couple endured many hardships and sacrifices to make better lives for their children. The results of a lifetime of work and sacrifice was on display this week as Mr. LCM’s daughter received her degree from Temple University.
In the end, none of us are defined only by our mistakes. Lots of people do bad or dumb things, but a person should be evaluated based upon his or her entire life and not on a single incident. This is why laws that do not allow judges to judge and adjudicators to adjudicate are so harmful.
The case was prepared and argued by Jennifer Cook with assistance from Benach. Longtime friend of Benach Collopy Nadeen Aljijakli started this case in 2007 and was an important part of today’s victory. Cyndy Ramirez also made sure that no stone was left unturned and all documents were submitted perfectly.