Beth Fertig writes:
“Arturo had his most recent hearing in December, in front of Judge Patricia Buchanan. He wore an orange jumpsuit with the initials of the Hudson County Department of Correction on the back, and his hands were shackled. The 31-year-old is five-foot-three and slim, and appeared very nervous. He sat with his team from Bronx Defenders, [Supervisory Attorney Sarah Deri] Oshiro and Law Graduate Courtney Lee, and a court-appointed translator. There was also an attorney from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, James McCarthy.
Arturo’s case is very complicated and his team has a few different claims. They are asking the court to withhold his deportation on the grounds that he’ll be persecuted or tortured if he goes back to Mexico.
“His stepfather subjected him to — during his entire childhood and adolescence — to really severe constant and consistent sexual, physical and psychological abuse,” Lee explained.
In court, she asked Arturo to recall some of the beatings and how his mother and siblings are still living in terror. He said the abuse continued even after he arrived in New York and sent his mother money to leave the man. He described in Spanish how he feared his stepfather would kill him if he moved back to Mexico, because he was the one who helped his mother escape. And he said he had no other place to live except for the town in which they reside. But Judge Buchanan appeared skeptical. She asked if he had any family in New York when he first arrived in 2004, and he said no.
Arturo’s legal team is also seeking to halt his deportation by arguing his two young children would be harmed. Immigrants who have lived in the U.S. illegally for at least 10 years can apply for a cancellation of removal if an American citizen would suffer “exceptional and unusual hardship.”
It’s a tough bar to meet, and it doesn’t help Arturo’s case that he has a few convictions for misdemeanors, including breaking a store window when he was drunk and possession of marijuana. But his advocates argued that these are minor and were related to the traumas he suffered as a child. He told the court he stopped using marijuana and alcohol after his children were born, to set a “good example.” His advocates said he also has an employer who believes in him, and wants to hire him back.
Because Arturo is the primary breadwinner, they argued deporting him would put the children at risk of homelessness. His partner, the children’s mother, is already fighting eviction proceedings. And Arturo said the stress from his detention has caused his seven year-old son to wet the bed and barely eat. But McCarthy, of I.C.E., argued that the children seem healthy and are not experiencing “exceptional and unusual hardship.”
The judge had to stop the proceedings at noon because she had too many other cases that day. She scheduled Arturo’s next hearing in February, almost a year after he was sent to detention.”
Go to Beth’s full article at the link for a fantastic picture of Courtney and her Supervisory Attorney Sarah Deri Oshiro. Way to go, Courtney and Sarah!
These days, in retirement, in addition to writing, I attend many events, give lots of speeches, and guest lecture at law schools and colleges, all largely directed at pointing out why refugees and other migrants make America great, the sad state of our United States Immigration Court System, the overwhelming importance of working to force our Immigration Courts to live up to their unfulfilled promise to “guarantee fairness and due process for all,” and the compelling need for reforms to make the Immigration Courts independent from the Executive Branch.
Almost everywhere I go, I run into great attorneys who once were Judicial Law Clerks or interns for the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, appeared in Immigration Court under clinical practice programs sponsored by local law schools (like Georgetown’s famous CALS Asylum Clinic), or are former students who took my Refugee Law and Policy (“RLP”) course at Georgetown Law in 2012-14. There are all, without exception, doing absolutely wonderful things to advance the cause of fairness and due process for migrants.
They are all over: projects like Bronx Defenders, NGOs, pro bono organizations, big law, small law, public interest law, courts, government agencies, Capitol Hill, academia, journalism, management, and administrative positions. I call them the “New Due Process Army” and they are going to keep fighting the “good fight” to force the Immigration Courts and the rest of our justice system to live up to the promise of “fairness and due process for all” whether that takes two years, ten years, twenty years, or one hundred years. If we all keep at it and support one another it will eventually happen!
Last night, I was at a very moving retirement ceremony for Shelly Pitterman, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean. Fortunately, Shelly is going to remain in the human rights field, joining Mark Hetfield and the other wonderful folks over at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (“HIAS”). I wish I had gotten to know Shelly better. He was repeatedly described as a dynamic leader who inspired everyone around him to perform at a higher level (just like Aaron Rodgers of the Pack), apparently even on the softball field!
In attendance were two of our “total superstar” former Arlington Immigration Court legal interns, Katie Tobin and Lindsay Jenkins, both Assistant Protection Officers (one of the most coveted jobs) with the UNHCR. Accomplished attorneys, dynamic leaders, and terrific role models in they own rights, Katie and Lindsay are using their education and experience to live out their deeply held values every day and to help make the world a fairer, more humane, and better place for all of us. Both of them represent the true values of the real America: fairness, scholarship, respect, teamwork, and industriousness (not to mention a sense of humor).
To Courtney, Katie, Lindsay, and all the other “soldiers” of the “New Due Process Army” thanks for what you are doing for all of us every day! It is an honor to know you and to have played a role, however modest, in your quest to make the world an even greater place.