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Thread: Not sure if we have the right attorney.....

  1. #1
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    Not sure if we have the right attorney.....

    My husband is currently in removal proceedings.

    We hired a lawyer's office that has me a bit uneasy.

    They charged me $3,500 to bail him out of custody (paid $4,000 for the bond).

    Then they told us, to come into the office to sign a new contract for $4,500 for the court case, they also said that would include getting him a work permit, social security card and driver license.

    I wasn't satisfied with the little information they were giving us about our case so I decided to look online and found this great website.

    After having a bit more knowledge we went back to the attorneys office this week and had a sit down with one of the actual attorneys. Needless to say that I was not impressed. I feel like I had 'more info' to bring to the table than she did. She even said "Wow, I'm impressed with your research, you know we might be hiring an assistant in the near future, you would be great for the job if you are interested"

    Anyways, I just feel like they are not being proactive or like they just don't give a damn. This is a large office, they work in an assembly like fashion. After we discussed the fact that my husband was not eligible for a Cancellation of Removal we decided that Voluntary Departure was the best way to go (I already knew that going in). And that the consular way would be our only hope of getting him back legally. When I started asking questions about filling out the I-130, the I-601 waiver and fees etc she said I would need to make an appointment with someone else at her office because she did not handle money and or deal with consular forms etc.

    So we made an appointment to see this other person next week. (she is probably a paralegal or assistant) But I wanted to see if the way our attoney's office is handling this is 'normal'. Should I be looking for someone else more personable, or more experienced?

    The attorney said my husband should be able to file the I-130 now since we are married but she could not tell us how it would play out with his removal proceedings. He has court for his first master hearing in October. She said they will ask for a 6-12 month extension that day which she is certain will get granted. After that they will either ask for the Voluntary Departure or another extension. So at the earliest it seems we have about a year or year and half for him to depart us.

    This is his entry history: ( I apologize as I wrote the wrong entry information on another thread when I first joined this site, the below is the actual history).

    2000 EWI for about 3 months (he does not remember exact dates) (never caught, just went back home to Mexico.

    2002-Attempted to EWI-Voluntary Returned (throwback)
    2004-Attempted to EWI-Voluntary Returned (throwback)

    2006-EWI has been here since

    02/2011 detained in Border Patrol Checkpoint
    02/2011 bonded out.

    The only thing he has on his record is a warranty for a DUI that he did not take care of prior to us meeting. He did not take care of it because he was scared of doing time and having ICE put a hold on him/deporting him. The attorney did suggest that we take care of the DUI asap.

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    So they want a total of $8k just to get him out of detention and to request voluntary departure? Or is that the total for if they were going to go for COR?
    3/1997 - EWI
    6/1999 - J and I met, started dating
    12/2001 - 1st consultation, found out we missed 245i
    9/2003 - Married, I-130 filed
    1/2009 - We had a baby girl
    6/21/2011 - waiver appt.
    9/13/2011 - waiver approval is in the system
    9/24/2011 - I flew to Mexico to meet J's family and brought him home 10/1/2011
    9/2012 - We had a baby boy

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    No, I already paid them $3,500 for bailing him out. In addition to the $4,000 for the actual BOND to the Department of Homeland Security.

    They charge $4,500 seperately to fight for COR, but since we are just going to do VD they did not tell me 'how much' they would charge for that.

    That's the problem this office, they don't tell me anything unless I ask and even when I ask sometimes I get the run around or get transferred to someone else.

    I mean they seem like a reputable law office, they are all over the radio, and their office is in the building where the Mexican embassy is in. The main attorney seems like a passionate attorney (he went up against current AZ Senator Russell Pierce a few ago but did not win) and is very active in this community, but unfortunately I have yet the opportunity to deal directly with him. It's always the assistants or paralegals who I end up dealing with.

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    My advice is to shop around but not burn any bridges yet. I think you are going to need someone in your area since your case involves immigration court, but there are lots of good immigrations attys out there, and you can probably find one that handles things in a way you are more comfortable with. I wouldn't go with a big reputable firm just because they are a big reputable firm. Smaller offices can be just as good and often charge less.
    3/1997 - EWI
    6/1999 - J and I met, started dating
    12/2001 - 1st consultation, found out we missed 245i
    9/2003 - Married, I-130 filed
    1/2009 - We had a baby girl
    6/21/2011 - waiver appt.
    9/13/2011 - waiver approval is in the system
    9/24/2011 - I flew to Mexico to meet J's family and brought him home 10/1/2011
    9/2012 - We had a baby boy

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    You can start sending out the I130 to get started so that he is not longer in Mexico than needed.

    I would look into another attorney. The DUI many have a big impact especially if he has a warrant out for his arrest. That needs to be clear ASAP.
    We Were Not Defeated by: J Roma March 18 2010 Mexico City

  6. #6
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    You said that you felt like you had more information than she did. That could be true for 2 reasons: 1) you really did, or 2) she's used to explaining it from a much more basic starting point. Informed immigration clients are somewhat uncommon- usually people come in with absolutely no idea or they have wildly incorrect ideas about how this will play out. It could be that she seems uninformed because she is used to explaining things to people like that- but if she can't answer your questions once you have shown yourself to be more informed than her average client, you should be concerned.

    She is right, he definitely needs to take care of the DWI ASAP. If fact, as I recall (and I'm looking for why this is the case) I don't think he can be issued a visa at the consulate if he has an open warrant. She's also right that the fact that he is in removal proceedings can effect the approval time for the I-130 in unpredictable ways in terms of time. You can get a work permit and an SS card while in removal proceedings, but I would have to ask if it was even worth it since he's going to ultimately take VD anyway.

    Do you feel that she has a good idea of how to handle the consular processing part of the case? Have you asked her if she has handled recent cases of this type through the CDJ consulate and with what result? Some attorneys do both immigration court representation and consular processing, but many more don't do both. Since the consular processing part of your case is likely to be the more important part (since you have to win that to bring him back!) I would focus my efforts on finding someone experienced in that type of petition. That might be her and that might not.

    As for the way the firm is set up with a bunch of assistants who know only isolated parts of the process, this is somewhat common for some very large firms. The assistant who does the forms will likely not have any idea about the charges, that's just the way these things tend to be set up.

    The assistant/paralegal who meets with you probably won't know that much about what you're eligible for, etc., but the attorney you meet with definitely should. Some assistants are trained paralegals and are very knowledgeable, but others are not- you need to insist on getting your information about substantive things directly from the attorney. A lot of people don't like the set up of large firms and dealing with a lot of paralegals, although it might keep the costs down. That might not be worth it if you constantly feel like you are not getting the information you need.

    Are they charging too much? That's hard to say, it probably varies by the area. Do you even need her at this stage- that's hard to say, too. I know that in my district people with attorneys tend to get longer periods of time for voluntary departures and can get extensions before they have to go forward with asking for voluntary departure than respondents appearing pro se. That's not fair, but it is what it is. And it may not be true in your area. Also, I can say that getting voluntary departure at all with a DWI in my district would be highly dependent upon which IJ was assigned to the case and how the attorney presented the case- again, that might not be true where you are. Where I am getting voluntary departure at all, and by no means getting the max of 180 days, with a DWI would likely be impossible without an attorney. But perhaps the additional few months with your husband here would not be worth the money you would have to spend to make it happen, especially if you have a DWI case complicating your eventual I-601, which will probably mean higher legal fees.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.
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  8. #7
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    He needs to come face to face with his DUI case. He needs to find a DUI lawyer and not just a public defender because he avoided to take responsibility of his DUI from the past and that complicate matters worse. Depending on the state penalty of the nature of his DUI and the effectiveness of a DUI lawyer, he may serve time in jail or he may not but ICE can't put a hold on him because he is already in Removal Proceedings but he needs to have the immigration paperwork with him at all times because AZ creates a buzz with illegal immigrant issues.

    The immigration lawyer should know by now he isn't qualified for a COR based from his timeline. The lawyer should have asked for his timeline already before asking you to sign a contract, pay more money and inform you of work permit and other privileges. The I-130 is not going to prevent him from being deported or leaving on his own expense. He has no basis to get a work permit if the only relief available to him is a Voluntary Departure based from the timeline you posted and he is from Mexico. At the time of his MCH, the judge will want to hear a valid reason why he will need an extension (ex. lack of legal representation, sickness, etc.)

    Our immigration judge here in our district is very mean and does not like to grant a VD relief for an immigrant who have violated a law or ordinance even for a minor traffic infraction. My husband had a history of DUI and he was still granted the maximum days to depart not because he had a lawyer who accompanied him to the court (his lawyer was an idiot beyond belief) but because of his circumstances. I submitted a lot of evidence on why he needed the maximum days possible to depart. The IJ had no choice but to acknowledge that evidence.

    To answer the title to your thread, no you don't have the right attorney.

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    Seems they like charging and are very good at that.

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    Thank you everyone for the great information and input, especially IMP.

    I did not realize that most immigration attorneys did not 'do it all'.

    From what I'm gathering, it would probably be best to keep our current attorney to represent him in his current removal proceedings/voluntary departure AND look into another attorney to help us with the consular process, AND another attorney to help us with his DUI.

    Gosh, what a nightmare. If I we didn't love eachother so much, I'd of walked!!!!

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