IMMIGRATION JUDGE GRANTS JAMAICAN MAN’S MOTION TO REOPEN
Aidric Brown was born in Jamaica.* He came to the USA, as a Permanent Resident, when he was 7 years old. His mother had petitioned for him. Aidric joined his mother and stepfather in Nassau County (Long Island NY).
Everything was fine for about five years. Then, Aidric began behaving in ways that troubled his parents and his school. He also began to smoke marijuana. Aidric had to be removed from school. Within a matter of years, he was living mostly in the street. He was a danger to others and to himself. He was hospitalized several times. He was diagnosed with schizophrenic chronic paranoia. Aidric would receive treatment in a hospital, respond favorably to the medications, and then be released. He would then stop taking his medications, and the vicious cycle would start up again.
Aidric was arrested by the NYPD a number of times, most often for marijuana use, harassment, and petit larceny. One time, in 2008, in Nassau County (New York), Aidric pleaded guilty to having violated NYPL § 130.52, forcible touching, a class A misdemeanor. U.S. Immigration, or the DHS, caught up with Aidric. It took him into custody and placed him in removal proceedings. Aidric was not eligible for bond. On the basis of a recommendation of a friend, his mother retained the services of an immigration attorney who had an office in Brooklyn, whom I will call Mr. Smith. It turned out that Mr. Smith had very little understanding of immigration laws and immigration court proceedings. In addition, Mr. Smith arrived one or two hours late for every court hearing.
On behalf of his client, Mr. Smith applied for Cancellation of Removal. Based on Aidric’s conviction for forcible touching, the Immigration Judge ruled that Aidric had been convicted of an aggravated felony and, because of that conviction, Aidric was not eligible to have a Cancellation of Removal case. Neither Mr. Smith nor the DHS attorney challenged the correctness of the judge’s ruling. At least Mr. Smith preserved his client’s appeal rights.
However, Mr. Smith’s appeal papers were not filed in a timely manner, which led the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to dismiss the appeal. All this time – almost a year – the DHS held Aidric in a county jail in New York City, where he was not given any medication or decent medical treatment.
Several months later, without first alerting his mother, or anyone else, the DHS released Aidric by putting him in the street. Once again, Aidric was homeless and alone. He begged for food, slept on the sidewalk, and often ate food that he found in garbage cans. One day, he became angry with his appearance, specifically, his face. He started a fire and tried to burn off his face. Fortunately, he did not. After being treated in a hospital, a county judge ordered that Aidric be confined to a psychiatric institute.
In January of this year, Aidric’s mother retained me to file a motion to reopen her son’s removal proceedings. In the motion, I argued that the Immigration Judge, who has since retired, committed a legal error when he concluded that Aidric’s conviction for forcible touching constituted an aggravated felony. My second argument was that Mr. Smith’s representation of Aidric was ineffective. I gave two reasons to support this argument: (1) Mr. Smith failed to make any kind of argument to support the claim that his client was eligible for Cancellation of Removal, and (2) Mr. Smith did not file the appeal papers on time. The DHS’s response to the motion was disturbing. The DHS claimed that Aidric should have filed his motion to reopen much earlier. Further, the DHS, in its response, did not write one word concerning my assertion that Mr. Smith’s representation of Aidric was ineffective .
The (new) Immigration Judge rejected the DHS’ arguments and granted the motion. Aidric’s status as a permanent resident has been restored. Aidric remains confined in the psychiatric institute. His prognosis is “guarded.” My next project, concerning Aidric, is to apply for a replacement Resident Alien (“Green”) card for him. His original card expired almost fifteen years ago.
*All names and nationalities have been changed to protect the identities of former clients. Any similarity to any one particular case or person(s) is purely coincidental.
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