Lee & Garasia, LLC
  • Tel: 732-516-1717
  • Toll free: 888-404-5876
Experience, Accessibility, and Excellence for Over 20 Years
  • "Lee and Garasia are excellent lawyers, punctual and professional. They are dedicated to going above and beyond the usual level of service to meet your client's needs. Their staff is very knowledgeable, friendly and polite. I would highly... recommend this firm to anyone." Read More

  • "I would definitely recommend Mr.Lee and Garasia as an immigration attorney because they did a great job with my case i.e. of Adjustment of Status (i-485). Mr. Lee helped us in each and every detailed information and prepared to the best of it. It was all well done and would like to appreciate." Read More

  • "I would like to thank my lawyer Mr Lee & Garasia and the staff for all immense help and patience throughout this entire process, I really appreciate your constant attention to my case, as well to my questions and my concerns. You've really made this process much more comprehensive to me, which I greatly appreciate." Read More

  • "Mr. Lee and Ms. Garasia did a great job with my renewal of my permanent residence application. They help prepare the paperwork with such a great attention to details and accuracy. I will recommend the law firm every time." Read More

  • "Mr. Lee did a great job with the renewal of my permanent residence application. My case was very time sensitive and they worked really fast on my case with great detail and accuracy. I will recommend the law firm every time." Read More

  • "I would recommend Attorney Paris Lee for anybody who needs immigration consultation. Mr. Lee is THE lawyer who respects and cares clients. Mr. Lee is professional and honest. Bottom line, preparation for the results and NO BS!" Read More

  • "Stalin - Lee did a wonderful job, Got my wife her visa in one year. He is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend him for all your immigration needs." Read More

  • "Hello. I appoint him as my immigration lawyer and that way he solved my cases was truly amazing. He was so honest and knowledgeable for his work.He solved my all family immigration issues and because of his effort we were able to get done our immigration work done successful. Thank you lee and garasia." Read More

  • "Lee & Garasia stand for accountability and responsibility. They are reliable, honest and are always constructively looking for a solution. A big thanks :)" Read More

Multiple DWIs Will Disqualify for Cancellation ("10 Year Law")

On October 25, 2019, Attorney General William Barr issued a very significant decision regarding eligibility for cancellation of removal, one of the most coveted forms of immigration relief for those charged with being in the country illegally. (Under cancellation of removal, individuals granted relief in immigration court not only get their court cases canceled but also receive green cards.) In order to qualify for cancellation, an individual must establish, among other things, that he/she possesses good moral character for the ten-year period preceding the application. Under this case, which Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker had previously certified to himself for review (prior to being succeeded by AG Barr), evidence of two or more DWI convictions during the ten-year period now creates a presumption that the individual does not possess good moral character. According to the Attorney General, "multiple DUI convictions represent a repeated failure to meet the community's high moral standards" and "criminal activity is probative of non-adherence" to generally accepted community conventions.

What this means is that if you have two DUI/DWI convictions in the past ten years prior to your cancellation application, you will likely be denied for lacking good moral character-even if you have been in the US for the requisite ten years and can demonstrate exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a US citizen/lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child. From a legal perspective, this case is extremely troubling and follows a recent line of cases essentially stripping judges of their discretion. In these types of cases, judges will be realistically foreclosed from considering the context and other relevant circumstances in determining whether an applicant with multiple DWIs has good moral character. While the presumption is technically rebuttable, applicants are practically saddled with a nearly insurmountable burden. As the decision notes: "absent substantial relevant and credible contrary evidence, multiple DUI convictions require that the immigration judge deny cancellation of removal." Moreover, evidence of reformation or rehabilitation after the convictions does not demonstrate in and of itself good moral character. Unfortunately, given this logic, it is hard to conceive what will be probative then in overcoming the presumption. Instead of letting judges decide how drunk driving convictions reflect upon a person's character, the convictions are virtually non-starters in terms of cancellation requests.

Another disturbing aspect is the opinion's facile observation that all 50 states have criminalized drunk driving. This is erroneous. New Jersey, in particular, treats drunk driving very harshly with extremely severe penalties, including potential incarceration. Nevertheless, DWI does not represent a criminal offense nor is it punished under the New Jersey Criminal Code 2C. As a consequence, New Jersey residents (and residents of other states which do not criminalize drunk driving) stand to be treated and perceived as felons before the immigration court for offenses which are not even crimes.

But perhaps the most troubling part of this case are the ramifications of an inconspicuous footnote placed literally at the very end of the opinion. In the footnote, the Attorney General notes that adjustment of status is another type of discretionary application, which-though not the subject of the decision-ought to include consideration of whether applicants with multiple DUIs merit a favorable exercise of discretion. In legal terms, this is what is called "dictum," incidental comments not essential to the decision or to be accorded the same precedential deference as language in the main body. However, these casual remarks may open the door for adjudicators to begin denying adjustment of status applications involving applicants with multiple drunk driving convictions, even though it is well settled that a drunk driving conviction-even multiple ones-- is generally not considered an inadmissible or deportable offense. What's more, this may represent the incipient stirrings of an effort to expand the contours of inadmissible and deportable conduct beyond what is statutorily prescribed. Adjustment of status applicants may soon need to be wary not only of financial issues (raised by the new public charge guidelines) but also of any infractions and minor offenses that are not even criminal in nature.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION

    • Avvo Rating 10.0 | Superb
    • Client Distinction Award martindale.com | 2016 Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Award
    • New Jersey State Bar Association | Paris Lee Chair - Immigration Section 2015-2016
    • Nationally Recognized | Newsweek Nationwide Showcase | Top Attorneys 2013
    • New Jersey Chapter | American Immigration Lawyers Association | Angie Garasia | Chapter Chair 2015-2016
Email Us For A Response

Start Your Case Evaluation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Lee & Garasia, LLC
190 State Route 27
Edison, NJ 08820

Map & Directions

icon phone732-516-1717 icon phone888-404-5876