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AILA Case Examples: Dangers of Waiting Abroad for Processing of Waivers of Inadmissibility

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12033042 (posted Mar. 30, 2012)"

The Dangers Faced By Individuals
Waiting Abroad During The Processing Of Unlawful Presence Waivers

On January 9, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a notice of intent to implement stateside processing of provisional unlawful presence waivers of inadmissibility for certain immediate relatives, 77 Fed. Reg. 1040 (Jan. 9, 2012). Specifically, the new procedure will allow individuals to file for and receive a conditional approval for the waiver while in the U.S. If approved, the applicant will still have to depart the U.S. to undergo visa processing and an interview at a U.S. consulate.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) commends USCIS for taking initial steps to lessen the hardships faced by U.S. citizens and their families as they navigate the complicated and often lengthy process of applying for permanent residence. Currently, many individuals who would likely qualify for a waiver choose not to apply when faced with the significant risks, costs, and hardships associated with separation from their families.

AILA provides the following case examples illustrating the extreme dangers of the current system which requires applicants to travel abroad and wait while their applications for a waiver of inadmissibility are reviewed. In these cases, people were murdered, kidnapped, burned, and shot in the face while in Mexico and El Salvador. No one should be compelled to endanger their lives or their family members' in order to complete the legal process of obtaining a green card. AILA is hopeful that the plans for this new system will be implemented expeditiously to provide a streamlined adjudications process that prioritizes family unity and safety.

Contact: Gregory Chen, Director of Advocacy, gchen@aila.org, 202/507-7615.

Index to Case Examples

  1. A man was burned to death while waiting for a waiver in Juarez, Mexico.
  2. A man was kidnapped by a gang while waiting for a waiver in Tancitaro, Mexico.
  3. A U.S. citizen was murdered while waiting with his wife for a waiver in Juarez, Mexico.
  4. A man was murdered while waiting for a waiver in Morelia, Mexico.
  5. A married couple and their baby were assaulted while waiting for the husband's waiver in Juarez, Mexico.
  6. A U.S. citizen was shot in the face while waiting with her husband for a waiver in Juarez, Mexico.
  7. A man was murdered while waiting for a waiver in El Salvador.
  8. A man was held for ransom then killed while waiting for a waiver in Mexico.
  9. A man was murdered while waiting for a waiver in Juarez, Mexico.

Case #1
A man was burned to death while waiting for a waiver in Juarez, Mexico.

Arizona

A man was murdered near Juarez while waiting for his I-601 waiver to be adjudicated. On the night of his death, he had left home with his brother. He decided to return separately and walked home alone. The next day, his body was found on the side of the road badly burned. Mexican officials determined it was random violence.

The consulate was notified of his death. Seven weeks after it was notified, his widow received a letter denying the waiver on the basis that the showing of extreme hardship had not been made. She is now raising their two U.S. citizen children alone.

Case #2
A man waiting in Tancitaro, Mexico for his I-601 waiver was kidnapped by a gang that later killed two men in front of him.

California

While waiting for his I-601 waiver interview in Mexico, the client travelled to Tancitaro, Mexico to visit family. During that trip, he was kidnapped and held for nearly three days. He was on the street on the way to see his wife and children when an SUV stopped in front of him, and assailants forced him into the car. They accused him of having witnessed a shooting the previous week, before he had even arrived in Tancitaro. Two other men who were in the SUV when he was picked up were shot in the head at close range by the kidnappers. The client was then released with a warning not to be seen around. That was in December 2011, and he has since been living in his parents' house in Tancitaro. He leaves the house only occasionally with his parents to attend mass. His father bought a car so that he could visit his grandmother on the other side of town without exposing himself on the street. Otherwise he never leaves the house. He continues to face death threats. His wife, who is a lawful permanent resident, and his two U.S. citizen children may soon be homeless as they are unable to make rent at home.

The case was referred by USCIS/DOS for further review. The attorney says it was not approved on the "fast track." They were notified of this decision two months following the application for the I-601 waiver. The attorney filed a supplemental package on March 5, 2012, with further evidence of the severe financial hardship to his wife and U.S. citizen children.

Case #3
A U.S. Citizen was murdered while waiting with his wife for her waiver in Juarez, Mexico.

Colorado
CNN reported on this case.

Jake Reyes-Neal, a U.S. citizen, was murdered in Juarez, Mexico, on March 30, 2011. He had accompanied his wife to Mexico so they would not be separated while she applied for an I-601 waiver, which had been pending for 9 months before his death. During their time in Mexico, they were supported by Jake's mom. After his death, the wife's case was originally denied because he was no longer alive. The waiver was eventually granted and his widow, Tania, now lives in Colorado with their U.S. citizen son, Anthony.

Case #4
A man was murdered while waiting for an I-601 waiver in Morelia, Mexico.

Colorado

A man went to Juarez, Mexico for his immigrant visa interview and to file an I-601 waiver. He was married to his high school sweetheart, who is a U.S. citizen, and had two U.S. citizen children living in Denver. He had been in the U.S. for about 10 years, had a good job and no criminal record. After he filed the I-601 application, it was referred for more information. He went to Morelia, Mexico to stay with his family while he waited. While he was there, he was murdered. The children will now grow up without their father, and the mother will likely be dependent on government benefits.

Case #5
A married couple and their baby were assaulted while waiting for the husband's I-601 waiver in Juarez, Mexico.

Colorado

A husband and wife, Jessica Martinez and Abel Aguirre de la Cruz, traveled with their baby to Juarez, Mexico, so that Abel could apply for an I-601 waiver and undergo consular processing. Jessica is a U.S. citizen. While in Juarez, they were carjacked on the highway. At one point the carjackers took the baby. The couple was able to talk the carjackers into handing the baby back. They were left on the side of the highway without their car, money, phones or shoes. The attorney received a Request for Evidence (RFE) to further prove that Jessica is facing extreme hardship, despite the clear danger this USC wife and baby face.

Case #6
A U.S. citizen was shot in the face while waiting for her husband's I-601 waiver in Juarez Mexico.

Washington

A U.S. woman went to Juarez in September 2010 to accompany her husband at his I-601 waiver interview at the consulate. Two days after the interview, while driving to another town to see family, she was shot in the face. The waiver was granted in April 2011.

Case #7
A man was murdered while waiting for an I-601 waiver in El Salvador.

Minnesota

A man was shot and killed in El Salvador in fall 2011 while waiting for his I-601 waiver. His wife traveled from Hibbing, Minnesota to the funeral. She had never been on an airplane. Their son was two years-old at the time.

Case #8
A man was held for ransom then killed while waiting for his I-601 waiver in Oaxaca state, Mexico.

The man was from Missouri. His widow now lives in Oklahoma.

A man was in Mexico for over a year waiting for his I-601 waiver. He was kidnapped over Thanksgiving weekend in 2011 in a small town in Oaxaca state where he was staying. The kidnappers asked for a ransom of $10,000, but several days later his body was found outside of the town. He had been shot in the head. He was shirtless, had no shoes, and his hands were bound behind his back. He had no connection to the cartels; nor did another man who was kidnapped at the same time, but the locals claimed that he was likely targeted because it was well-known he lived in the U.S. and was married to a U.S. citizen. The client was going to school while he was waiting to finish consular processing. His wife was left to care for their two young children by herself.

Case #9
A man was murdered while waiting for his I-601 waiver in Juarez, Mexico.

Texas

A man, Sabas, was murdered in May 2008 while awaiting adjudication of an I-601 waiver. His widow received notification that the waiver had been granted one year after his death (although the Consulate was aware of his death, USCIS had not been notified). The family lives in Florida; he is survived by his wife and three young children.