Immigration Court, Take II

My partner and I both woke up at 5 a.m. and we made our way down to San Francisco for my second Master Calendar hearing yesterday. It takes about 1.5 hours to get from Antioch to downtown San Francisco in the morning. We were there at 7:30 a.m. and grabbed some breakfast from a cafe before heading to the EOIR at 120 Montgomery.

I was in the middle of the docket but we waited till 11:45 a.m. for the Immigration Judge to call me up since my attorney was appearing telephonically from Washington D.C, and it made sense to wait till the last. However, the wait was brutal since we did not know what was going to happen.

We wanted the Immigration Judge to set the earliest possible date to adjust my status. Several thoughts kept running through my head. Would the Judge terminate proceedings and have me apply for a green card at USCIS? Would she schedule an individual calendar hearing for adjustment of status in 2015? How hard would the DHS prosecutor oppose setting a date for adjustment of status?

I didn’t need to worry so much. Judge Carol King runs the courtroom better than any judge I’ve seen. She is absolutely brilliant and she knows what she is doing. On the two occasions that I’ve been in her courtroom, I’ve seen a pro-bono attorney present to serve indigent clients. She takes over and goes out of her way to tell struggling immigration lawyers precisely what they need to do for their clients and how they need to plea (“Trust me, this is what you should do…”). She dances to the music over the telephone. She makes attending removal proceedings a lot more fun and I have been quite lucky to have her as a judge.

When it was my turn, the DHS prosecutor asked the judge if she could speak to my attorney off the record. I thought this was a bit unusual for a Master Calendar until I saw that she had a thick folder of information on me, including one magazine that had me on the cover page. We called Andres on the phone and she offered to give me prosecutorial discretion, which was very nice of her. But we aren’t interested in discretion as it does nothing for me at this point, as I already have work authorization under the multiple pending applications for relief. We want adjustment of status and Andres made this clear over the phone.

He pointed out that we have an adjustment application pending with no criminal or admissibility issues. Under the recent Ninth Circuit decision in De Osorio v. Mayorkas, I was eligible for adjustment of status. Terminating proceedings and applying for a green-card with USCIS may not be the best idea since that is what started these removal proceedings in the first place and we have no idea when USCIS will start adjudicating the law in the Ninth Circuit. Judge King said that it made sense to go ahead with adjustment before the court and she set a date within 4 months. She also gave DHS 30 days to file a reply brief to the brief we filed on my eligibility to adjust status under INA 245(i).

I don’t see any reason for why I should not be granted lawful permanent residency on February 15, 2013. The De Osorio decision is the law in the Ninth Circuit and unless the Government gets a court order to stop the adjudication of all applications until they can seek cert., the IJ should apply the law as it stands.

The highlight of the day was seeing the lovely DHS prosecutor with a copy of the IndiaCurrents magazine with me on the front cover. In case you are reading this, thank you and I’d love to autograph your magazine copy next time I see you.

Next hearing date, and hopefully the last hearing date: February 15, 2013 at 1:00pm in Courtroom 14 at San Francisco EOIR, which is when and where I should be granted lawful permanent residence in the United States, if all goes well.

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