Immigration Law

Kansas City's ‘Top-Notch’ Immigration Lawyer Rekha Sharma-Crawford on Her Immigrant Roots and Supreme Court Win

Rick Montgomery, Kansas City Star, July 17, 2018 - "Sharma-Crawford this year has waged deportation battles drawing national, even global, notice. One case alone — the detention and near-deportation of Lawrence chemist Syed A. Jamal — prompted calls to her desk from CNN, The Washington Post and BBC News. Her victories include a case she brought three years ago to the U.S. Supreme Court. She fights alongside husband Michael Sharma-Crawford, an ex-cop and partner at their practice (though he usually stays away from the cameras). Together, “they’re among a handful of people in the heartland who rank with the top-notch litigators in the immigration world,” said Charles Roth, director of litigation at the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, a nonprofit advocate for immigrant rights. ... Whether or not the process is fair for deportees, few lawyers looking to get rich would choose the oft-aggravating practice of defending migrants in trouble — a legal realm rivaled in its complexity only by tax law. For the information-sharing cadre of Kansas City attorneys specializing in immigration, “anger fuels a lot of it,” Rekha said. One of those other attorneys, Jessica Piedra, has a small office upstairs from Southwest Boulevard, a few blocks west of the Sharma-Crawford firm. Piedra mostly works with immigrants seeking work permits, green cards or citizenship, and she calls Rekha Sharma-Crawford “my hero.” “I tell people all the time to definitely get a final opinion from the Sharma-Crawford law firm.” The Kansas Bar Association this spring honored Rekha Sharma-Crawford with its Courageous Attorney Award, given to lawyers who the associations said “displayed exceptional courage in the face of diversity.” In 2015 she won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Her client, a legal green-card holder, was facing deportation after being pulled over and found to be possessing in his sock four Adderall pills, a controlled substance. Under an agreement, a felony drug charge was dropped and her client pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia (the sock, Rekha argued). ICE and lower courts weren’t amused. At the time Rekha called the high court’s 7-2 ruling, which spared the man from removal, a sign of the “promising trend (to) protect the due process rights of immigrants and protect them from the often harsh punishments” for those who come under ICE’s radar. For the government to spirit detainees away without notifying attorneys or family is “cheating,” she says. “It’s cheating. ICE holds all the high cards in these cases. Why do they have to cheat, too?” "