This past year, a client came to me to seek advise about submitting an application to renew his green card. He was friendly, respectful, and a long-time permanent resident. But, he had a past… one that had been haunting him for decades. See, when he was a very young man living in the urban parts of 1980’s Los Angeles, he was vulnerable and eventually succumbed down the wrong path to the recruitment of gang life. As a result, he had a number of arrests and convictions and became a known gang member and associate. During our consultation, he asked me “Do you think if I apply to renew my green card, Immigration will come arrest me?” I proceeded to ask him a slew of questions, including the details of all his arrests, the outcomes of all the proceedings, etc. I then asked him if he was still a member of the gang, and he shared with me the story of when he realized he was in a bad situation and what he endured to get out – which included showing me the scars of being shot several times. He was lucky to survive and be here today.
It has been over 20 years since he got out, and during the last 20 years, he has been a family man. He has volunteered with law enforcement agencies to work with at-risk youth guiding them to stay away from the troubles he found for himself. He’s worked hard, paid taxes, and provided for his loving family. So after he shared all this with me, he asked me “Do you think they will arrest and deport me?” I told him, “How about I make you a US citizen instead?” I will forever remember the look of shock and surprise on his face.
After analyzing his history, I was able to determine that even despite his record, he was eligible to apply to naturalize. I explained to him that it did not mean that it would be easy, and that it even possibly risked ICE trying to deport him. But I told him that I knew I would be able to successfully defend his deportation, and in the end, there would be no choice but for them to grant him his citizenship, because statutorily he was eligible and I knew I could make it happen. Today, with great satisfaction, my client stood before a Federal District Court Judge and took the Oath of Allegiance, and has become America’s newest US Citizen. Everyone deserves second chances. Thank you B. for trusting in me. Congratulations!