Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Major Win in Washington State - Mexican National Granted Withholding Relief

Our office had a major win last week. In an individual merits hearing in Washington State, our client, a Mexican National, was granted withholding relief by the Immigration Judge and the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel waived the appeal for the government. Our client, after spending almost 15 months in custody was released the next day.

A little background on the case, our client was an elected major of a small town in Mexico. He was trained as a lawyer and he won the election on a promise to clean up the town. Once in office, he had several thugs arrested when they disrupted a celebration and festival in the town. They were immediately released and came back to kidnap our client, held him for several days, and took him into the desert where they released him and threatened him with death if they ever saw him again.

He first was stopped at the border, where he was deported back to Mexico by the US Border Patrol. He entered the US on his second try and was later arrested in California during a traffic stop and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Because our client was previously ordered deported, he was not eligible for asylum protection and he was held under mandatory detention by immigration officials.

The immigration case had a previous individual hearing, which was conducted by local attorney in Washington State and our client was ordered deported. In the decision, the IJ did not find the requisite nexus between the persecution and one of the protected enumerated grounds, e.g., race, religion, nationality, political opinion, of membership in a particular social group.

I handled the case on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals and won a remand where the Board ruled in our favor, holding that the IJ erred in this nexus determination.

The deportation case was again set for another Individual Merits Hearing, which was held last week. Mr. Ballout flew up to Washington State and conducted the hearing, which ended successfully. Not many Mexican Nationals obtain asylum, withholding relief in this country and this was one huge victory.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Osama bin Laden's Widows Are Illegal Aliens in Pakistan

In a cruel twist of irony, the three widows of the once most-wanted man on Earth, Osama bin Laden, have been charged with being illegal aliens.

Pakistan has charged Osama bin Laden's three widows with illegally entering and living in the country, the interior minister said Thursday.

The three women have been in Pakistani detention since May last year, when U.S. commandos raided the house where they, bin Laden and several of their children were staying. The commandos shot and killed bin Laden, and then buried his body at sea.

Rehman said the three had been charged in court, but he did not say when. It was unclear if they had a lawyer.

He said their children were free to leave Pakistan, but could stay with their mothers for the duration of the trial.

A Pakistani legal expert contacted about the case, Hashmat Habib, said the maximum punishment the women could receive was five years in jail. One of their relatives has reportedly visited Pakistan recently to urge authorities to let them leave the country. The decision to charge them could be a formal part of that process.

One of the women is known to be from Yemen, another from Saudi Arabia. The nationality of the third woman is unclear.

Bin Laden, the subject of a massive international manhunt, had been living in the Pakistani army town of Abbottabad for around five years before the CIA traced his whereabouts. The unilateral American raid humiliated and angered the Pakistani army, which has also faced uncomfortable questions over why it wasn't aware of bin Laden's presence.

A government commission is investigating the affair, but few expect it to come up with many answers. Its members have interviewed the wives. Last month, the government destroyed the three-story compound the bin Laden clan was living in, removing a concrete reminder of the country's association with the world's most wanted man.