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Paul, Weiss Overcomes Odds and Secures Green Card for Grandmother From Mexico

In a type of case widely thought to be unwinnable, Paul, Weiss overcame the odds and secured release from detention and legal status for our client, a Mexican mother and grandmother who has lived in the United States for over 25 years. After spending nearly a year and a half in custody, our client is now back at home with her daughter with a green card in hand. 

Paul, Weiss partnered on the case with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (“SPLC SIFI”), an important effort to expand access to counsel in southern states where rates of representation are extremely low at detention centers located in isolated areas. The SPLC met our client at the Stewart Detention Center, located in a remote part of Georgia, where rates of representation for detained noncitizens hover at 6%, even though individuals are fourteen times more likely to prevail in their immigration cases when they have representation.  

Our client was placed into removal proceedings after a domestic dispute and was dramatically overcharged in the resulting criminal matter.  Due to backlogs in the criminal court, the criminal charges could not be resolved before our client’s immigration case went to hearing. Paul, Weiss and the client had to proceed with an application for non-legal permanent resident cancellation of removal—a highly coveted and difficult to secure form of relief—while our client’s criminal charges were pending, requiring us to persuade the immigration judge—who had previously denied our client a release bond—that our client demonstrated the requisite good moral character for this form of relief.  

The Paul, Weiss team presented the Court with hundreds of pages of evidence, including three expert reports, substantial corroborating documentary evidence and numerous statements from community members who described the client as “generous and selfless” and a “wonderful mother and grandmother.” Despite the considerable latitude afforded to immigration judges to draw negative inferences from interactions with the criminal justice system, the judge was persuaded by what she called the “ample evidence in the record explaining, mitigating and analyzing” the pending charges. In addition to addressing the pending criminal charges, we demonstrated the exceptional and extremely unusual hardship that would befall our client’s daughter, a U.S. citizen, who has a history of severe mental health issues, if her mother were deported. The immigration judge’s favorable ruling will hopefully be helpful persuasive authority for practitioners seeking immigration relief in this difficult posture.

The Paul, Weiss team was supervised by litigation partners Jane O’Brien and Lina Dagnew and led by pro bono attorney Tanaz Moghadam and litigation associates Matthew Disler and Muamera Hadzic. The team also included associates Marcelo Roman and Katia Bogomolova.

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