Prosecutorial Discretion and Joint Motion to Reopen
To the friends of Kong Xin's family and supports of the Mandarin Tokyo restaurant in Marshfield, Massachusetts, thank you for agreeing to help with a letter of support. As the immigration lawyer who is preparing Kong Xin's deportation defense case, I'm writing to give you some background on his case and to offer guidance on how to make your letter of support have as much impact as possible.
Kong Xin is currently in jail in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he has a in absentia order of removal or deportation from more than ten years ago. Kong Xin was ordered to be deported at a hearing he didn't attend. Through miscommunication with his former lawyer, Kong Xin missed his hearing because he never had actual notice of the time and date of the hearing.
Even though Kong Xin is married to a U.S. citizen and has U.S. citizen children, he cannot apply for a green card because he has this existing order of removal or deportation. To removal this obstacle, he needs the Immigration Judge to reopen his deportation order, which would allow him to apply for a green card through marriage and request a hearing that may allow him to be released upon the payment of an immigration bond.
As Kong Xin's immigration lawyer, I believe that the best strategy is to ask attorneys for the Department of Homeland Security to join Kong Xin in requesting that the Immigration Judge reopen his case. You may have heard in the news that the Obama Administration recently issued new guidelines for prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases. The stated goal is to prioritize the deportation of criminals, while treating more favorably those who present positive equities. Along these lines, we are asking attorneys from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reopen Kong Xin's case out of the goodness of their hearts.
In support of our request, we would like a letter from you explaining why you believe the Department of Homeland Security should join Kong Xin in making this request. It is important for your letter to be based on your own personal experience and to be as detailed as possible. Your letter should address the following:
1. Discuss your relationship with Kong Xin. Describe how you met him, how long you have known him, and under what circumstances you interact with him. Please give examples from your own personal experience showing that Kong Xin is a good person who takes care of his family and contributes to his community.
2. Describe the extreme hardship that Kong Xin's wife and children would face if he were deported to China. While Kong Xin would certainly suffer, it is much more important to explain how Kong Xin's U.S. citizen family would suffer if he were deported.
3. Describe how important Kong Xin is to you and your community and how his forced deportation and possible absence would negatively impact you and the community at large.
Make sure your letter includes your name, address, and whether you are a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States. Your letter should be addressed to "Dear Sir or Madam" at:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of District Counsel
26 Federal Plaza - Room 1237
New York, New York 10278
Re: Request for Joint Motion to Reopen In Absentia Order of Removal
Kong Xin CHEN, A073-649-669
Do NOT send your letter directly to the Department of Homeland Security. Please send it to me by February 15, 2012 or as soon as possible thereafter. I will submit your letter, along with others, in a packet of other documentation. Your letter should be dated and signed in ink. Above your signature, please include the words: "Under the pains and penalties of perjury, I declare that this statement is true and correct to the best of my information and belief." Notarizing your signature would be helpful but is not essential or required.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. On behalf of Kong Xin and his family, I would like to thank you in advance for your help and cooperation.
Finally, at least for the time being, I do NOT recommend that you call a Massachusetts politician (e.g., Senator Scott Brown, Congressman Bill Keating) or alert the media. Our first and most important effort should be gathering as many high quality letters of support as possible. After we submit our formal request for prosecutorial discretion, we can shift our focus to media and congressional assistance.
I will be posting more information on Kong Xin's case as soon as I know more.