“ Recognizing that aliens have difficulty in presenting their cases forcefully and effectively, the courts have held that aliens have a due process right to competent legal counsel. ”
IT has been said that immigration laws and regulations are aptly called a labyrinth that only a lawyer could navigate. The courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals have recognized that attorneys are more familiar with the standards and factors an immigration judge examines and can present evidence more effectively. In addition, attorneys have special competence and duties to represent their clients. Attorneys are held to professional standards and obligations. They have a duty to exercise their knowledge and skill in order to present the strongest legally-valid case possible.
Recognizing that aliens have difficulty in presenting their cases forcefully and ffectively, the courts have held that aliens have a due process right o competent legal counsel. Competent legal counsel means that aliens have the right to be represented by an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in immigration law because the due process right stems from the attorney’s unique role in removal proceedings and other immigration-related transactions.
When the lawyer fails to render competent assistance and the client is prejudiced (harmed) by that failure, the client can file a motion to reopen to seek a new trial. The request is made upon the assertion that the attorney’s representation was outside of the wide range of professionally-competent assistance and was not the result of reasonable professional judgment. It is called ineffective assistance of counsel.
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, aliens hire a non-lawyer (sometimes known as a legal consultant, an immigration consultant or a notario) to assist them with their immigration problem. In some cases, they believe they are hiring an attorney. In other situations, they know that the person they have hired is not a lawyer. In other cases, the person they are hiring is an attorney but has very little or no prior experience in immigration law. Relying on these people is dangerous. Consultants and notaries do not undergo necessary legal training and are not permitted to appear in court or at Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. Lawyers with no immigration law experience lack familiarity with the complexities of immigration law or procedure. SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1
Many problems arise when the consultant files an application for an alien. If the alien is statutorily ineligible for the relief, he or she may be issued a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court because the government believes they are removable (deportable) from the U.S. If the alien does not go to his hearing, he is ordered deported in absentia (in his absence). It doesn’t matter that the alien didn’t get otice of the hearing. As long as the notice as sent to the alien’s representative or to the address given by the alien, the alien is considered to have received notice.
Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza is one of the oldest, largest and most experienced immigration firms in the United States with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Manila. For more Information please call (800) 795-8009 or visit www.rreeves.com.
Telephone: (800) 795-8009
The analysis and suggestions offered in this column do not create a lawyer-client relationship and are not a substitute for the personalized representation that is essential to every case.