08/30/2011 06:21:00 PM EST
Does Underdeveloped Legal Argument Entitle Alien to Deference in Review of Deportation Decision?
The alien, a Polish citizen, overstayed her visa and allegedly tried to bribe an immigration officer to obtain a new visa. However, the bribe was discovered during Operation Durango, a sting operation designed by three federal agencies to catch "brokers" who were "helping to procure immigration benefits for aliens illegally."
Under Operation Durango, the brokers took aliens to a storefront on the north side of Chicago, where they met with undercover immigration agents who acted as corrupt officials. The brokers, at times, told the aliens that the process was real and legal. However, there were no signs on display in the store and the immigration officers did not wear uniforms. When the meetings ended, the aliens paid the immigration officers a $5,000 fee to finalize the process.
Before removal proceedings began, the alien married a United States citizen, who filed for an alien relative visa. During the removal proceedings, the alien asked the immigration judge (IJ) to terminate her removal proceedings based upon her application for an adjustment of status. The IJ denied the request, determined that the alien was removable, and denied her motion to suppress the evidence seized under Operation Durango. The IJ specifically found that the adjustment of the alien's status was not warranted inasmuch as she had bribed an immigration officer and such behavior outweighed "all of the equities in favor of relief."
The alien contended that she never paid the $5,000 to the broker and that she did not realize the broker's actions were illegal. Although the evidence appears that the alien's brother actually paid the money to the broker, the IJ held that she should have know $5,000 was too high a price to pay for a valid, legal visa. Further, the IJ contended that the alien should have been wary of the broker's instructions to her to lie about the location of the immigration interview as further proof that the broker's actions were not legal.
The appeals court stated that although it might have been inclined to weigh the evidenced more favorably for the alien, particularly in light of the government's weak evidence of bribery, the alien's happy marriage, and her participation in the community, Congress had not given the appeals court such authority. Further, the appeals court noted that the alien's attorney presented a "single underdeveloped legal argument," which previously had been foreclosed by the Krasilych case. Specifically, in Krasilych, the court determined that a petitioner who "blithely asserts that 'Fourth Amendment violations' in Operation Durango were 'widespread and egregious'" fails to demonstrate a violation of the Fourth Amendment or other liberty. The appeals court held that the alien's attorney failed to explain away the Krasilych decision or indicate that he was preserving a point for further review. Therefore, the court found that it was required to uphold the prior decision. The alien's petition for review was denied.
Because the alien's attorney "fell far below the minimum standards for competent representation," the appeals court forwarded a copy of the opinion to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission.
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