Law Office of H Edward Ballout

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The Law Offices of Haitham Ballout

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Law Offices Wins Big Before En Banc Ninth Circuit panel

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an important en banc (full panel) opinion in favor of the Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout and its client. The case significantly impacts persons seeking relief from deportation based on the likelihood that they will be tortured in their country of origin. Our client in this case was repeatedly tortured by corrupt police officials in Mexico who were forcing him to participate in their criminal enterprise. However, an Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals found that he could not be saved from deportation by receiving relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) because he had failed to prove that it was impossible for him to safely relocate somewhere in Mexico, a standard that had been advanced by the Ninth Circuit.

In its March 27, 2015 opinion, the Ninth Circuit reversed course and clarified that petitioners seeking relief under CAT are NOT required to prove that it is impossible for them to safely relocate within their country of origin. In so doing, the Court overruled four prior cases which it found were not in line with the federal statute implementing CAT. The outcome of this case had serious implications for protecting people from torture, and we are pleased that the Court reached a reasonable conclusion.

Read the full opinion: Maldonado v. Holder, Jr.

Read More:

Torture ruling offers home to Bay Area immigrant via SF Chronicle

Ninth Circ. Overturns Precedent in Mexican Torture Case via Law360

Breaking News: Obama's Announcement

Obama just finished announcing his executive action plans regarding immigration reform and here is what we know so far:

  • He will increase border security resources
  • He will make it easier for highly-skilled workers and graduate students to obtain visas
  • He will extend deferred action eligibility to parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents who have been in the United States for at least 5 years, successfully pass a criminal background check, and accept tax liability. Approved applicants will not obtain any affirmative legal status, they will merely be safe from deportation and authorized to work in the United States. Similar to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), this will be known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
  • He will remove the age cap on DACA, so that persons of any age who otherwise meet DACA requirements are eligible to apply.
  • He will extend I-601A Waiver eligibility to LPR parents and spouses, and seek clarification on the definition of "extreme hardship."

He reiterated that deportation priorities should be "felons not families," and that hard-working, law-abiding immigrants should be offered the opportunity to "get right with the law."

In the months ahead, the relevant government agencies will begin to implement Obama's Executive Action, and our office will immediately release any and all information regarding application procedures as it becomes available.  We congratulate Obama on taking this important step toward a more just, functional immigration system, and we hope this spurs Congress to revisit comprehensive immigration reform with an eye toward fairness and compromise.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about Obama's announcement and what it means for you.

Read More: AILA's 8 Points on the President's Immigration Accountability Executive Actions via AILA
                    Executive Actions on Immigration via USCIS

Actress Pens Op-Ed Describing Pain of Family's Deportation

As Obama's announcement on immigration reform looms, Actress Diane Guerrero of the hit show "Orange is the New Black" recently opened up about the trauma of her mother, father and brother's deportation when she was only 14 years old. Guerrero, a U.S. citizen, was tragically separated from her family when they were deported back to their native Columbia while she remained in the United States to complete her education. Guerrero's story is an all too common one, and underscores the need for immediate reforms that prioritize family unification. We hope her story adds to the support that Obama has been getting from Democrats in Congress for swift, executive action on immigration. 

Read More: "Orange is the New Black" actress: My parents were deported via LA Times
                    Orange is the New Black Star: My Parents Were Deported When I was 14 via Time Magazine

Immigrants Represented by Counsel During Immigration Proceedings Are THREE TIMES More Likely to Avoid Deportation

A recent study conducted by the Northern California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice and the Stanford Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic found that of over 4,000 immigrants detained while awaiting deportation proceedings in Northern California, 33% of those represented by counsel avoided deportation. Only 11% of immigrants without counsel were able to avoid deportation.

Immigration law can be very complicated, particularly once someone is facing deportation. Competent representation can be paramount, and greatly improves the chances of staying in the United States. If you or a loved one are facing deportation, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately.

Read More: Immigrants facing deportation do better in court with a lawyer SF Chronicle

Breaking News: Last Minute Save Leads to Ninth Circuit Win!

When the client, a family who fled persecution in their native country, came to the Law Offices of Haitham Ballout, they had been through two lawyers and several appeals. The Ninth Circuit had denied their petition for review, and was ready to issue a mandate for their removal from the United States.

After meeting with this family and reviewing their file, it became clear that their previous lawyers had not done right by them and had missed the opportunity to present very important evidence to support their asylum claim! Haitham Ballout quickly requested that the Ninth Circuit stay the mandate and take another look at this case, based on the ineffective assistance of prior counsel. The mandate was stayed, and the family was allowed to remain in the United States until the Ninth Circuit had a chance to review whether their prior attorneys had dropped the ball.

Today, the Ninth Circuit agreed that the family's previous counsel had done a terrible job, and prejudiced the family's case. The Court remanded the case so that the family can have another shot at proving the worthiness of their asylum claim-- this time with effective counsel.

We are so happy to keep this worthy family in the United States, and to represent them competently in proceedings.

It's not too late, contact us today if you think your attorney is not providing you with competent representation!

Daily Journal Covers Law Offices of Haitham Ballout Ninth Circuit Case

The Daily Journal covers a case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, in which The Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout successfully argued that the Court should hear the matter en banc. The case involves the Convention Against Torture (CAT); specifically: who carries the burden regarding whether a CAT petitioner may safely relocate in his country of origin, and how high is that burden? Oral argument has been set for September 19, 2014. 

The Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout are proud to be representing the Petitioner on this important issue, which has important implications for future CAT cases.

UPDATE: the case was argued and submitted on September 19, 2014, and the decision of the Ninth Circuit en banc panel is pending. 

9th Circuit Requests Additional Briefing on Safe Relocation for CAT Claims

The Ninth Circuit recently issued a request for additional briefing in a case first filed by The Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout in 2009. The Court asked for briefing on whether it should hear the matter en banc (by a full panel, rather than the standard 3-judge panel). Typically, the Court will hear, or more often rehear, a matter en banc if the issues presented are especially significant or complex, or if they demonstrate a conflict in precedent. 

Additionally, the Court asked for clarification on whether there is a conflict in its precedent regarding which party bears the burden of proof on safe relocation when a petitioner is seeking relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Court also asked for clarification on whether its precedent impermissibly raised the burden of persuasion on safe relocation to "impossibility."

How the Ninth Circuit ultimately rules on these questions will have a profound impact on future CAT petitioners. If CAT petitioners have the burden of proving that safe relocation within the country of removal is impossible in order to obtain relief, they will be facing a harsh standard and an uphill battle. 

Stay tuned for an important final decsion by the 9th Circuit sometime this year.

 

NPR's This American Life Features Immigrant Activists Risking Deportation

Recently, an episode of National Public Radio's This American Life featured activists from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance that have risked deportation to advocate for immigrants in detention from inside detention Here more about their mission and the importance of relief from deportation through "prosecutorial discretion." If you think you qualify for prosecutorial discretion and would like assistance, contact our office today.


Listen here: The One Thing You're Not Supposed to Do: Act One: Breaking the Ice via This American Life

Read More: Young immigrants to risk detention at border to protest deportations via LA Times

Court Grants Stand-Alone 212(h) Waiver for Arriving Alien

The San Francisco Immigration Court recently granted a stand-alone 212(h) waiver to a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) that was detained as an "arriving alien" upon her return to the U.S. due to a criminal conviction. Specifically, the LPR was granted a 212(h)(1)(C) waiver as an abused spouse of an LPR. Although the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) nearly eradicated the availability of a stand-alone 212(h) waiver in its decision in Matter of Rivas, 26 I&N Dec. 130 (BIA 2013), it left its holding in Matter of Abosi, 24 I&N Dec. 204 (BIA 2007) in tact. Matter of Abosi held that a stand-alone 212(h) waiver is available for a returning LPR seeking to overcome a ground of inadmissibility.

The crucial distinction between the respondents in Rivas and Abosi is that Rivas was an LPR who had been placed in removal proceedings while inside the U.S. at the time he sought a stand-alone 212(h) waiver, whereas Abosi was an arriving alien seeking re-admission to the U.S. at the time he sought a stand-alone 212(h) waiver.

Matter of Rivas was recently appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal. However, even if it is affirmed, Rivas expressly distinguished its holding from Matter of Abosi, leaving a stand-alone 212(h) waiver available to arriving aliens seeking to overcome a ground of inadmissibility so that they may be readmitted to the U.S.

If you have any questions about this area of the law, please call our office.

Major Victory for Domestic Violence Survivor

The Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout received a major victory on behalf of a domestic violence survivor in San Francisco Immigration Court in June 2013.

The client came to the United States from Ukraine and was stopped at the airport upon arrival. She was paroled in for only two weeks, at which time her family contacted our office for help. The client explained her fear of returning to her country as a result of serious domestic violence she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. She was interviewed by USCIS to determine whether she had a credible fear of returning, and USCIS found that she did. Next, she was placed in removal proceedings where she sought asylum based on the domestic abuse. Although this client had only been in a relationship with her abuser for a few months, the severity of the violence she experienced convinced the immigration court to grant her asylum.

We are so pleased to have assisted this client in finding safety and peace here in the United States, and we hope to gain similar victories for other clients in the future.

More Deportations Halted As DOMA Decision Implemented

News of deporation proceedings stopped dead in their tracks continues to roll in, as the effect of the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA becomes increasingly evident. A Bay Area man who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a teen finally experienced relief after DHS moved to recognize his marriage to his same-sex U.S. citizen spouse. Give us a call if you need help obtaining similar relief.

Read More: Orinda Man Avoids Deporation After DOMA Struck Down via CBS Local

Breaking News: DHS Will Now Recognize Legally Married Same-Sex Couples in Removal Proceedings!

If you and your same-sex spouse are legally married and your spouse is in removal proceedings because you were not able to petition on his or her behalf: YOU ARE NOW PERMITTED TO PETITION ON BEHALF OF YOUR SPOUSE!! DHS is immediately implementing the Supreme Court ruling and recognizing legal-married same-sex couples for immigration purposes. Call us today if you need help with a same-sex spouse in removal proceedings.

Republicans Who Voted To End Funding for Deferred Action Face Negative Ad Campaigns

Nine House Republicans who voted in favor of a measure to end funding for President Obama's Deferred Action program, a measure that will never pass the  Democratic-controlled Senate, will face the heat of public opinion with the help of negative ad campaigns funded by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The nine House Republicans, whose vote was largely symbolic, will be identified and targeted in an ad campaign highlighting their opposition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that temporarily protects young immigrant students that arrived as children from being deported because they lack lawful status. This conservative stance is not supported by the majority of Americans, and could cost the Representatives votes in the next election.

Read More:

Democrats go after Republicans over deportation vote via CNN
House Republicans vote to end Obama deportation rule via CNN

New York Times Features Immigration Debate

The New York Times "Room for Debate" section features an immigration debate by six thoughtful debaters.

Read More: Understanding Immigration Reform via NY Times