Published: October 27, 2014
According to a federal lawsuit recently filed against the immigration law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or “ICE,” an ICE prosecuting attorney forged a key document in an effort to defeat a then undocumented individual’s fight against deportation and to remain in the U.S. The plaintiff, Ignacio Lanuza-Torres , a Mexican citizen and now a U.S. permanent resident, is seeking $500,000.00 in damages arising as a result of having to defend against protracted and flagrantly flawed removal proceedings over a 5 year period. At the heart of the lawsuit and the successful deportation defense is heroic lawyering on the part of the immigration lawyer who represented Ignacio in his fight against deportation and discovered that key evidence against him was forged.
Ignacio Lanuza-Torres, first entered the U.S. without documentation from Mexico in 1996. He eventually married his long time U.S. citizen girlfriend; but in the meantime, in 2008, he came to the attention of ICE as a result of a minor gun possession conviction. He was in removal proceedings where he attempted to seek relief in the form of “Cancellation of Removal,” a defense to removal available to long time undocumented residents of the U.S. which if successful, leads to an award of lawful permanent resident, or green card, status. Applicants for Cancellation of Removal must prove: a) 10 years of continuous presence in the U.S., b) good moral character and c) that their removal from the U.S. would pose an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a U.S. citizen or resident spouse, child or parents.
Other than being undocumented and having a single criminal conviction, Ignacio met the threshold eligibility requirements to be considered for Cancellation of Removal. However, according to a document produced by the ICE prosecuting attorney, Ignacio had departed and reentered the U.S. several times over the previous decade, and once even was caught by border agents where he signed away his right to a hearing and caused his own summary deportation. Although the departing and reentering part of the story was not necessarily consequential, the hearing waiver and summary deportation he allegedly signed off on killed his defense and eligibility for relief. Eventually, the judge reviewing his case entered an order removing him to his native Mexico.
Ignacio appealed the removal order to the Board of Immigration Appeals since he knew something was rotten to the core about these proceedings, specifically regarding the hearing waiver he supposedly signed. In support of his appeal, Ignacio’s attorney presented a key piece of evidence which went undiscovered in lower court proceedings – evidence that the signed waiver of hearing and summary removal order had been forged. Most notably, Ignacio’s attorney noticed that the disqualifying order and waiver of hearing allegedly signed in 2000 appeared as an official U.S Department of Homeland Security document. One problem, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was only created in 2002 and in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the U.S. Thus, of course, any document purporting to be an official Homeland Security document from 2000, would by definition be a forgery.
With this discovery, Ignacio’s appeal was granted, and his case was remanded for approval of application for Cancellation of Removal and green card issuance.
Thanks to great lawyering and a justice system that usually leads to the right result, Ignacio is free to live in the U.S. and can even seek damages arising from this prosecuting attorney’s egregious conduct.
PUBLISHED October 27, 2014– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2014, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois