Monday, September 28, 2009

The Scarlet Letter Of The Law

I've a few professional friends who've begun taking in immigration cases and they tell me that it's a difficult branch of the law, very difficult, primarily because it is so technical. That doesn't surprise me. After all, it's federal law we're talking about here, and the federal court system. Still, attorneys know that, and if they are serious about their jobs, they cope with it. Some of the time that works, but, unfortunately, other times it simply does not.

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune is an example of what happens when the letter of the law is invoked to defeat the spirit of the law, and common sense.

[Hoa] Nguyen, 29, came here from Vietnam on a student visa 10 years ago, earned a bachelor's degree at Luther College and a master's degree at the University of Minnesota, got married and made a life in Minneapolis. But she failed to file for a green card and missed a court date in August; she was jailed in Sherburne County.

Last week, an immigration judge denied Nguyen's motion to re-open her case, noting that her arguments did not constitute the "exceptional circumstances" needed to grant the motion. She now faces deportation, possibly within the next two weeks.

Let's review the facts. She came to this country legally on a student visa. She was a student until just recently when she took a break from her PhD program at UMinn. She got married last November to an American citizen. She and her husband went to Viet Nam for a marriage ceremony earlier this year, but when she and her husband returned to the US in February, she was stopped at the airport by immigration authorities who advised her there was an issue as to her student status. Then she received a hearing notice requiring her to appear before an immigration court on August 13. She didn't appear, and on August 14, immigration authorities appeared at her door, arrested her, and took her to jail.

Through an attorney, she argued that her case should be reopened because she was married to a US citizen, and had been for 10 months. The judge denied her motion and ordered deportation. His point was that being married to a US citizen was not a good enough excuse for not appearing on August 13.

OK, she's a flake. She should never have blown off the hearing. She should have appeared with her husband and with a certified copy of her marriage certificate in hand. She probably should be punished, perhaps with a stiff fine for disregarding a valid court order, or a period of time in jail, or perhaps a period of community service. But deportation for 5 years or so? Come on, that's both ludicrous and overkill.

That, however, is how our immigration system works.


Labels: ,


Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Would this be an example of a "No Nguyen" situation?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Heh, I guess it would.


10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again it seems people don't understand what law is every person has the right to sit on jury. they have the right to vote not guilty even if they find the person is guilty if the punishment is to harsh for the crime. No one can overturn a jury's decision. The jury has the right of enforcing any law if they wish or of not enforcing stupid or excessive penaltys not all crimes are of the same one size fits all that america has been conned into thinking take back the rights of america don't let the lawyers fool you into thinking justs because someone wrote a law it has to be inforced

11:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home