Perfectly Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship

Published on April 24th, 2008

Re:  Perfectly Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship
April 12, 2008
New York Times

To The Editor:

Julia Preston paints a woeful picture of two allegedly blameless Philippine immigrants, Dr. Pedro Servano and his wife, Salvacion.

The Servanos admit they "secretly married in the Philippines" and then sought immigrant visas as "unmarried children" of their respective mothers who has also immigrated and presumably obtained U.S. citizenship. That’s immigration fraud and it’s supposed to be an absolute bar to entry, a green card and citizenship. The Servanos compounded their fraud when they lied about it again on their green card applications and presumably in their green card interviews. Now, as they seek citizenship, they want to be absolved.

Ms. Preston then writes that the Servanos had "no inkling they might have violated the law" and they were "[U]naware that their marriage could have violated the terms of their green cards…"

I don’t believe that for a second.

When I practiced immigration law I had several clients like the Servanos who had "secretly married" in the Philippines and then sought entry as unmarried children of U.S. citizens. In each and every case the clients knew they had obtained their entry visas by fraud and if they had managed to obtain green cards that they had repeated that lie on their green card applications. Indeed, I have found Filipinos to be particularly astute about immigration law and knowledgeable about this law in particular.

I refused to represent any client who would continue to lie. If asked, they would have to take their chances and tell the truth. The Service would then deny their application and they would have to hope they had other recourse, usually a waiver petition filed by a qualifying relative, typically a spouse.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is clear. The Servanos’ fraud requires that they be deported. Nothing in the Immigration and Nationality Act automatically excuses this. Rather, relief is in the sound discretion of the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which is supposed to issue only in the most compelling cases. This isn’t one of them.

Debra Soshoux
Sherman Oaks, California

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