Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My letter to Senator Schumer from 2009

In 2009, I sent the following letter to Senator Chuch Schumer. Nothing changed. It would be interesting to see what happens now.

December 8, 2009

Dear Senator Schumer,

My name is David Asser. I'm an immigration attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m asking for your attention to the promises of this new Administration with regard to our current immigration system to “fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and enable legal immigration so that families can stay together”.

Based on my experience as a lawyer this promise sounds incredibly hollow in light of what is currently happening in this country every day. The US Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), in particular Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Citizenship and Immigration Service (“CIS”) continues to position itself as an Enforcement Only agency with no regard to the consequences to US citizen family members, mostly minor children who continue to suffer beyond belief when families are torn apart.

It is hard to fathom that Trial Attorneys in Immigration Court are actually representing the Executive Branch, when they show no mercy or compassion, contrary to message of the White House. Moreover the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) routinely holds on appeal that the extreme hardship that is suffered by US citizen children when their parents are being deported is not sufficient to warrant the “Cancellation of Removal”. The bar of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” is set so incredibly high that almost no one satisfies the burden.

Since Comprehensive Immigration Reform seems unlikely to happen any time soon, I would like you, in your capacity of Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Immigration of the Judiciary Committee to specifically review the consequences of the enactment of fourth requirement the Cancellation of Removal provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), Section 240A(b).

Cancellation of Removal for certain Non-Permanent Residents was enacted in 1997 in INA 240A(b), (8 USC §1229b):
(1) IN GENERAL.-The Attorney General may cancel removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien-

(A) has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 10 years immediately preceding the date of such application;
(B) has been a person of good moral character during such period;
(C) has not been convicted of an offense under section 212(a)(2), 237(a)(2) , or 237(a)(3) , subject to paragraph (5) 2a/ 5/ ; and
(D) establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the alien's spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

The standard as set forth under “D” can hardly be met by a healthy, well-adjusted minor child. It cannot even be met by a child that is suffering from depression resulting from the ongoing and immediate threat of deportation of a parent. EOIR has ruled that a person “must show more than extreme hardship”.

As such, I would respectfully request that you strive to reinstate discretion to the Immigration Judge by lowering the standard to “extreme hardship”, allowing a Judge to actually balancing the equities with any negative factors. I would ask you to immediately introduce a bill to amend this Section of the INA. This act alone will reduce the amount of suffering and injustice that is being experience by US born children whose parents happen to have entered this country without the proper documents and who decided to stay in order to create a better life for these children.

Changing INA 240A(b) will not have an inviting effect on future illegal immigrants, since the Section is limited to those who have been in the US for more than ten years. Moreover, its scope is limited to those who have good moral character and haven’t committed any deportable crimes. Such change would not have a negative impact on any government resource. On the contrary, it would allow cases to run faster through the system, bringing people out of the shadows and into society, which can only be considered positive.

On November 17, 2009 I represented another family in Immigration Court, and although this is a beautiful family with three US citizen children, ICE opposed a grant of Cancellation of Removal, although the trial attorney admitted that this was a heartbreaking case and I anticipate that the Immigration Judge will not rule in favor of my client. The question then becomes, “are we that kind of society?” I didn’t think so.

In the absence of any Comprehensive Immigration Reform and/or detailed changes to the current law, as referenced above, I would urge you to ask the Administration to provide immediate guidance to its agencies to implement its philosophy of compassion and family unity to provide Temporary Protected Status to those who could qualify for Cancellation of Removal until further guidance has been given.


David Asser
Attorney at Law

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big Bird

The reason why President Obama lost the debate last night can be summed up in two words: Big Bird. Not even 10 minutes into the debate, Mitt Romney looked Jim Lehrer, the moderator, in the eye, told him that he liked him and that he liked Big Bird, but that if he were President he would get rid of both of them.

Who else can look Big Bird in the eye, tell him that he liked him, fire him and then feel good about that? Right, Donald Trump. President Obama should have used this incredible opportunity to reveal the true character of Mitt Romney: someone who can look you in the eye, smile and complement you and then fire you to save his bottom line. That person is not a President, that person is a Donald Trump. The debate would have taken a completely different turn. Opportunity wasted.

Getting rid of PBS funding is hardly job creation and I'm puzzled as to why the President wasn't able to think on his feet and grab the opportunities he was given by Romney to expose the nonsense that Romney is preaching.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Deferred Action Update

On June 15, 2012, Secretary Napolitano announced deferred action for the "dreamers". We were supposed to get further guidance on August 1, 2012. Well, today is August 1, 2012 and there's no guidance.

Rumors vary with regard to the process, the fees, the forms and what documents will be required. There are already scams in the works to charge people tremendous amounts of money for this program and applicants are being lied to regarding what this program will do for them.

I expect that guidance will come soon, but until then, please be careful and stay tuned.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What is Deferred Action under new DHS Directive of June 15 2012?

What is Deferred Action under new DHS Directive of June 15 2012?
If this is affirmative deferred action, similar to Temporary Protected Status or TPS (without armed conflicts and earthquakes) it should be handled by USCIS. However, there isn't a provision in the INA that would support this. If this is PD though ICE, we’re dealing with the discretion not to issue a Notice to Appear.

How is Prosecutorial Discretion Defined?
“Prosecutorial discretion” is the authority of an agency charged with enforcing a law to decide whether to enforce, or not to enforce, the law against someone. DHS, like other law enforcement agencies, has prosecutorial discretion and exercises it every day. In the immigration context, the term applies not only to the decision to issue, serve, or file a Notice to Appear (NTA), but also to a broad range of other discretionary enforcement decisions, including among others: Focusing investigative resources on particular offenses or conduct; deciding whom to stop, question, and arrest; maintaining an alien in custody; seeking expedited removal or other forms of removal by means other than a removal proceeding; settling or dismissing a proceeding; granting deferred action or staying a final order; agreeing to voluntary departure, withdrawal of an application for admission, or other action in lieu of removing the alien; pursuing an appeal; and executing a removal order.

What is Favorable Discretion?
The “favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion” means a discretionary decision not to assert the full scope of the DHS’ enforcement authority as permitted under the law. Such decisions will take different forms, depending on the status of a particular matter, but include decisions such as not issuing an NTA (discussed in more detail below under “Initiating Proceedings”), not detaining an alien placed in proceedings (where discretion remains despite mandatory detention requirements), and approving deferred action.
As a law enforcement agency, DHS generally has prosecutorial discretion within its area of law enforcement responsibility unless that discretion has been clearly limited by statute in a way that goes beyond standard terminology.

Does Prosecutorial Discretion grant status?
It is important to recognize not only what prosecutorial discretion is, but also what it is not. Prosecutorial discretion does not apply to affirmative acts of approval, or grants of benefits, under a statute or other applicable law that provides requirements for determining when the approval should be given. For example, the DHS has prosecutorial discretion not to place a removable alien in proceedings, but it does not have prosecutorial discretion to approve a naturalization application by an alien who is ineligible for that benefit under the INA.

This distinction is not always an easy to understand. In many cases, DHS decision making involves both a prosecutorial decision to take or not to take enforcement action, such as placing an alien in removal proceedings, and a decision whether or not the alien is eligible for a benefit under the INA. In many cases, benefit decisions involve the exercise of significant discretion which in most cases is not judicially reviewable.

What is the New Policy of June 15, 2012?
The Deferred Action policy of June 15, 2012 is based on previous policies, discussed above and should not be confused with a grant of status, amnesty, a benefit under the INA or otherwise protected status. It merely creates a class of people who the Administration believes should not be issued a Notice to Appear and be put in removal proceedings. And as such, the Administration feels that these people might as well apply for a work permit, as long as the deferred action policy is in effect.

Who qualifies?
Under the directive issued on June 15, 2012, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:

  • Came to the United States under the age of sixteen; 
  • Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; 
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; 
  • Are not above the age of thirty.

Many misconceptions about the new policy have already been floating around. This is not an Executive Decision, this is not Amnesty, this is not a pathway to citizenship, this is not the Administration going around Congress, this is not an unconstitutional act. This is merely an enforcement directive, option not to issue an NTA to certain individuals and have these individuals apply for a work permit, while the directive is in effect, which appears to be for a period of two years.

Prosecutorial Discretion Memo HQOPP 50/4, Published Nov. 17, 2000;
Standard Operating Procedures for Enforcement Officers: Arrest, Detention, Processing, and Removal (Standard Operating Procedures), Part X;
Principles of Federal Prosecution, chapter 9-27.000 in the U.S. Department of Justice’s United States Attorneys’ Manual (Oct. 1997).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Want to Move a Worker
 to the U.S.? Good Luck

I just read this article and wanted to share it with you.

As director of Oracle’s (ORCL) U.S. immigration program, Denise Rahmani arranges work papers for foreign employees the company wants to bring to the U.S. Last year, she says, the federal government denied 38 percent of Oracle’s visa requests. “It used to be almost none of them got rejected,” Rahmani says. Today, “it feels like the roll of the dice every time.”

U.S. companies have griped for years about how hard it is to hire high-tech workers from abroad under the government’s H1-B visa program. Now, they’re upset with the Obama administration about the difficulty of getting visas for foreign workers already on their payrolls who are needed for key projects in the U.S. So intense is their frustration that Oracle, Microsoft (MSFT), Starwood Hotels (HOT), and some 50 other companies warned President Obama in a March letter that “American job growth and the U.S. economy are being harmed.”

At issue are the L1-B visas used for transferring workers with “specialized knowledge,” as defined by a 1970 federal immigration law. Getting these permits used to be routine: From 2003 through 2007, an average of about 8 percent of company requests were denied by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In 2008 the rejection rate tripled. Last year it hit 27 percent.

Corporations complain that Washington is inundating them with requests for more information about a foreign employee’s expertise and then making seemingly arbitrary decisions. Rahmani says the administration denied one Oracle worker’s request to extend his stay because he didn’t know enough about one type of software—even though he’d written its training manual. Immigration officials are “suggesting that the workers are interchangeable,” she says. “They don’t seem qualified to judge and assess what we deem as the right resource to do a job or deliver a project.”

The government’s own manpower issues are partly to blame. The USCIS only has about 250 case workers to inspect the 423,000 petitions filed annually for all types of temporary work papers, including approximately 20,000 L1-B applications. The agency says workers sometimes resort to searching the Internet to figure out how specialized a field is and whether U.S. workers might be available to do the job. (After USCIS gives its OK, applicants have to pass a State Department interview.)

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas says the criticism that his office is inconsistent in its decision-making is “in part warranted,” and that he’s working to fix the problem. Still, companies can’t just “transfer without limitations,” he says. Workers on L1-Bs can come to the U.S. for up to five years, bring their families, and even apply for a green card.

There’s also no condition that companies pay L1-B workers a wage that’s competitive with what a U.S. worker would make, as is the case with the H1-B, which applies to highly skilled new hires from abroad. The government only issues 85,000 of those visas a year. Some companies that lose out try their luck with the L1-B, which has no cap. “We are concerned that the L1-B program is harming American workers because some employers … use L1-B visas to evade the restrictions on the H1-B program,” Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, wrote to Mayorkas this year.
Brian Johnson, a lawyer for Castor Aviation, a New Zealand company that operates a helicopter maintenance business in Wasilla, Alaska, says his client applied for three types of visas for its president, an expert in helicopters that fly in harsh climates. “They’ve tried each different visa category that could be appropriate,” Johnson says, to no avail. “They’re doing everything to keep the company alive.”

TWMA, a Scottish company whose Houston-based subsidiary handles waste for the natural gas and oil industries, says it’s ready to hire 200 to 300 more Americans this year—if Washington approves work papers for six foreign engineers needed to train the U.S. staff. “You can’t just hire a lot of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” says TWMA Vice President Ian Nicholson. “You’ll start losing very fast.”

The bottom line: Immigration officials rejected 27 percent of the visa requests companies made to transfer employees to the U.S. last year.
Dwoskin is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lobby Congress

Tomorrow I'll be meeting with several members of congress and will hand them the following letter. I hope it will have some impact on the discussion:

March 27, 2012

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

We represent the Arizona Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Based on a survey that we took prior to coming to Washington to meet with you, we’ve been able to identify the 5 main issues our members would like us to address:
1) The Dream Act Children are absolutely the most immediate concern;
2)  The so-called permanent bar due to unlawful presence - specifically in combination with people who are eligible to adjust their status under INA 245(i);
3) The unjustifiably high standard of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” in cancellation of removal makes it almost impossible for Immigration Judges to grant relief to people who would otherwise be eligible for relief – they do meet the ten year requirement, have no criminal record and do have US citizen children, spouses or parents;
4) The inexplicable unexpected difficulty of obtaining non-immigrant visas for US employers on behalf of their employees is creating serious problems for US employers and has a direct effect on economic expansion. The denial rate for H-1B and L-1 visa applications has shot up without having the government providing any reason for this;
5) Detention of non-criminal aliens, specifically asylum seekers (who are held without eligibility for bond) is unjust, unnecessary and an increasing burden on tax payers. Detention conditions, access to attorneys and medical assistance are deplorable in all centers, specifically in privately run facilities (CCA) and county jails.

The Arizona Republic reported on March 24, 2012 that the undocumented population in Arizona had shrunk by 200,000. Even though some may claim that this shows the success of tough enforcement, this number actually reflects only two things: fear and lack of opportunity. We believe that these principles cannot be the leadership that you would be proud of. This becomes a race to the bottom and will result in further economic troubles for the State. We hope that you join us in providing leadership based on creativity, inclusion and imagination.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Credible Fear

TO DIE IN FLORENCE - with writer’s notes
This story is based on a client’s case file and the relevant facts of this story are true. The characters are fictionalized. The immigration judge ordered our client removed from the United States in the summer of 2011 and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision at the end of September 2011. The case is currently pending before the US Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit and if the court follows its own precedent decisions, the client will be deported to El Salvador. It may take two years before the Court renders a decision and making the story into a movie may influence the court and may alter the outcome of the decision, hence the ending of this story.

The movie starts in the future in a blood orange color.
Possibly it is 2014.

The prologue starts with a 28-year old young man escorted by two ICE agents from a plane on a tarmac in sunny, hot and sweaty conditions. The ICE agents take of the handcuffs when they hand him over to local authorities. The two agents wish the young man well. The immigration authorities escort the young man of the tarmac to the gates. The airport has a sign in big red letters saying “El Salvador”.

The young man leaves the airport in a taxi to the city. The taxi takes him to the center of San Salvador. The young man gets out of the taxi. He seems unsure of where to go, when a dark blue sedan catches up with him and a semi-automatic machine gun appears through the rear window. Several shots are fired and the young man falls to the ground, his body riddled with bullets. People are screaming, panic takes hold of the square and the car takes of with screeching tires.

Spring of 2011. The colors are blue and gray.
We’re in a court room in the Florence Detention Center. A young female lawyer whose parents immigrated from Iran in 1979 finishes describing the scene we just watched. The young man who we just saw being murdered is sitting next to here in a kaki jump suit. He is 24-years old. The lawyer starts her arguments and tells the judge that her client’s fear is that if he is deported from the United States, that he will be immediately killed upon arrival.

This is where the movie starts.

We learn that the young man is called Raul Lopez. His testimony tells the story of child whose family refused to succumb to the terrors of the gangs, in particular MS-13. The movie goes back and forth between the current scenes in the court room and the chronological telling of the story, starting when Raul was 8-years old, playing soccer in the streets, when he saw his uncle been murdered by three men. We hear and see the story of his older brother being initiated by MS-13 and disappearing when he was 17-years old to be never heard from again. We witness his mother’s attempts to protect him from the gangs and his first refusal to join when he was 14-years old. The violence surrounding the child’s family is enormous. When he was 11-years old, his father was killed in broad daylight on Sunday morning after church. Houses are set on fire, family parties are disrupted by killings and mourners are threatened after funerals. No one is safe from the terror and government officials either are complicit or unable to do anything.

In cross examination, the government attorney downplays the violence and actually mocks the young man’s experience. The government attorney paints a picture of an emerging democracy in El Salvador and cooperation by law enforcement with America’s war on drugs. He hammers on the fact that young man’s mother through a friend forged documents to smuggle the young man to the United States with a fake passport and visa when he was 16-years old. This was eight years ago. He confronts Raul that he has been working in the United States illegally as a construction worker and he possibly still has ties to MS-13. He points out that the young man never asked for assistance, but had chosen to live under the radar and only just asked for asylum, because he was arrested in a raid. He thinks the story is rather convenient and we have literally heard this sob story a thousand times before. Raul admits having worked illegally, but says that he never hurt anyone and that he is scared of the gangs.

Raul’s attorney introduces evidence that two of his cousins were recently deported from the United States and murdered in El Salvador within two weeks. The judge examines the death certificates and the movie takes us to El Salvador one year ago when these two men were deported and murdered.

The story evolves, but during closing arguments, the government attorney recites current case law that refusal to enter a gang and the resulting gang terror, especially from MS-13 in El Salvador is not a ground for asylum in this country. The highest courts have decided that gang-related terror is not grounds for asylum, since asylum is for persecuted individuals living in fear of their government, not because their family are criminals and are afraid of their own criminal organization. It would be like granting the Corleone family asylum from Italy. The young female attorney tries to argue that if her client is deported he might face the same fate as his cousins, but she has to admit that it is difficult to know what will happen in the future. She says she hopes that the judge will think twice before sending this man to a certain death.

The immigration judge is sympathetic with the young man’s plight, but rules that because the claim was filed more than one year after he entered the United States, the young man is not eligible for asylum. He would be eligible for withholding of removal, but this standard is higher. In the end the judge in a convoluted decision agrees that the circuits have ruled that a person who refused to join a gang is not protected and he orders the young man deported to El Salvador. He says he is very sorry and wishes Raul well. Raul cries and is taken away. His attorney nervously tries to compose herself. She sees her client being shot when he returns to El Salvador.

The young lawyer, Niousha Parsi, has a conversation with her parents during dinner who tell her that she could make a much better living as a corporate attorney, or be successful just like her brother. They don’t understand her relationship with this older Jewish lawyer she works for. They end up yelling at each other and she storms out.

The next morning Niousha discusses the case with her boss. She doesn’t think they should appeal, because they have no chance and the client doesn’t have any money. Her boss is an older Jewish lawyer who fights against everything and everybody.  He has a great sense of humor, but he is so cynical, sour and disillusioned with the system, the practice, his clients, other attorneys and life in general, that he has been outcast by everyone, including his own wife and children. He tells the young lawyer that they do need to make money to pay the next month rent, but in this case, she should appeal if she truly believes that her client will be killed if she loses. She thinks about what to do. She is certain they will lose on appeal and recites the case law to her boss: The 9th circuit ruled in Ramos v. Holder that in the matter of S-E-G the Board recently determined that young Salvadoran men who have resisted recruitment into the MS-13 do not constitute a particular social group and that the refusal to join the MS-13 does not amount to a political opinion. The 9th circuit agrees and there’s no hope.

December 2010. The colors are Arizona red.
We see 22-year old Raul working at a construction site in South Phoenix when the Sheriff raids the place. He tries to hide, but he does get caught and is being dragged away as a big criminal. He is represented in criminal court by a disinterested public defender where he is convicted for identity theft, because he had a fake driver’s license and social security number.

It may be true that they’ll lose, Murray Goldman, the old lawyer says, but since everything is against her client, she has nothing to lose. She has to fight if she believes what she just told him. This is why people become lawyers, he says. She merely shakes her head.

June 1996. The colors are bright and hot.
The 8-year old Raul is playing soccer in the streets in El Salvador. His uncle is walking towards him pushing a fruit card. Three men approach him. The child stops playing and watches. He hears yelling, three shots and his uncle falls to the ground.

September 2011. The colors are beige and brown.
Three judges sit in the conference room of the Board of Immigration Appeals. The female judge disagrees with the two men. She can’t believe that they’re sending this young man home. She was recently appointed to the Board and the two other judges make her understand that she can’t let her emotions get the best of her. He doesn’t see any errors in the judge’s decision and agrees with the judge who wrote the opinion that they need to affirm the order of removal.

End of September 2011. Outside the colors are bright and hot, but inside the colors are blue, bland and gray.
The glass separates the lawyer from her client. The little booth feels claustrophobic and Niousha is holding back her tears when she tells him that they lost the appeal. Raul begs her to keep fighting and that he rather dies in Florence than returning to El Salvador. He says that he doesn’t mind being here more time, since he has been here already almost one year. He says he trusts her and that God will guide her.

Spring 1999. The colors are green, yellow and sky blue.
Raul is 11-years old. It is Sunday morning, the family is leaving Church. His father moves ahead of the family. His mother, his two sisters and younger brother try to catch up. From the other side of the streets, a group of men approach the young man’s father. They shout at him. It’s difficult to see and understand what is going on, but then a knife appears. His father falls to the ground. We hear two shots being fired. Raul’s mother starts screaming and runs towards her husband. The group of men opens up, she kneels by her husband. She wails. The street is silent. The young man’s father dies.

Spring 2011.
Back in the court room, the Judge gives Raul’s mother a tissue. She testifies that after the murder of her husband she fled El Salvador and left her two sons and two daughters with family members. She tells the Judge that she was granted “temporary protected status” by the United States and that’s how she has been able to live here. The government attorney wants to know why she felt that it was safe to leave her children behind. She tries to explain that she had no choice, but the government attorney fails to understand.

October 2011.
At the office, boxes are stacked shoulder high. Murray, carrying a box of files, has a fit. God has nothing to do with this, he says, and if he did then he is an absolute asshole. He says he can’t understand why people always think God can help them. It will be Niousha who can help and hopefully they’ll find a reasonable ear at the circuit court of appeals, but he doubts it. He tells that if God was on their side, they didn’t have to move out of their office.

December 2002.
Raul is now 14-years old. He is pressured in a ceremonial meeting to join the gang. They sit in a circle in a remote area. He is presented with a gun. The older gang members slap the young man on the head, egg him on. They want him to kill his cousin and tell him that if he does, he will be protected by the gang. Raul trembles and gets up. He aims the gun on gang members. They laugh in his face and challenge him to pull the trigger. He can’t and throws the gun on the ground. One of the gang members picks up the gun and puts it against the young man’s head. He pulls the trigger. There are no bullets in the gun.

October 2011. Colors are light brown, dark brown and white.
Niousha’s brother enters the small storage room, where the lawyers have set up shop in his office space. Boxes are everywhere. He hopes that they don’t have to stay long. He wouldn’t want to have to work in an office without windows. His sister lashes out and tells him that he is spoiled and arrogant. He calls her ungrateful. Murray feels out of place and asks why the internet is not working – they need to file the appeal today.

April/May 2003. The colors are yellow, blue, green and red.
Raul, now 15-years old, gets on a bus in San Salvador. He ducks behind a seat and holds on to his backpack. The bus drives through Guatemala. It stops at a few checkpoints, but no one asks him anything. He gets off the bus close to the border with Mexico where he is being greeted by someone, who says he is a friend. They cross into Mexico at night on foot. The “friend” gives the young man an address in Oaxaca.  Raul continues to travel, now by train and his journey ends close to Chihuahua.

November 2012. The colors are white marble, dark oak brown and gray.
The hotel room in San Francisco is empty, when Niousha enters from the bathroom. She appears very nervous. She takes deep breaths, looks in the mirror and runs back to the bathroom.

The overwhelming marble of the structure and the enormous hardwood benches in courtroom number 3 of the 9th Circuit are imposing. The three Judges sit high on the bench. In front of the Judges sit the clerks and the court reporter. The young lawyer feels that she stands a mile away and she feels as small as an ant.

Judge Bybee asks why this case is so special that the Court should overturn its own precedent decisions. “The United States of America cannot grant asylum to a person who doesn’t qualify according to the definition, even when the circumstances appear to be very sympathetic.” The other Judge admonishes the young lawyer that she is wasting the Court’s time unless she can prove that this case is very different from any other case that has come before this Court. He says that he reviewed the entire record and found no errors in the Judge’s findings. He feels that this young lawyer has not made any legal argument and is merely stalling the inevitable.

October 2012.
Niousha meets with Raul in Florence. Niousha informs her client that she’ll appear at the 9th Circuit next month. Raul has visibly aged. He is now 27-years old. He has been sitting in Florence for almost 3 years. He appears exhausted. He says that he believes in Niousha. Whatever happens, it is God’s will.

November 2012.
Niousha stares at the three Judges, she stares at her table. She tries to compose herself. She apologizes, but then gets up and continues.

May 2006.
Raul is 18-years old. He enters the football stadium in cap and gown with three hundred other students. His mother is sitting in the stands. The high school band is playing a medley of favorite fight songs. The English teacher who calls of the names then calls for Raul Lopez. Raul walks towards his principal who hands him his diploma. Raul grins from ear to ear. His mother closes her eyes for a moment and lets out a prayer.

November 2012.
Niousha tells the Judges that Raul wants to be an engineer. He was an above average student who could have received a scholarship, but won’t be able to attend college, unless this Court decides that he shouldn’t be sent to a certain death. Niousha pulls herself together, ends with stating that she doesn’t have a legal argument, but that her case is about what is doing right and humane. She attacks the Judges and says “if this Court can’t see that, then any legal argument is irrelevant, since our system is first build on justice and fairness and secondly about applying the law. If the first hurdle can’t be taken, then the second argument is useless.” The Judges are not amused.

January 2014.
The first scene repeats itself: Raul gets out of the taxi. He seems unsure of where to go, when a dark blue sedan catches up with him and a semi-automatic machine gun appears through the rear window. Several shots are fired and Raul falls to the ground, his body riddled with bullets. People are screaming, panic takes hold of the square and the car takes of with screeching tires.

January 2014.
Murray and Niousha are unpacking boxes again. Niousha is crying. They’re on the 27th floor of a high rise building and they look out over Phoenix. Murray is happy. He gives Niousha a big hug. She doesn’t want to say goodbye, but he says it’s OK and leaves. She is left behind between the boxes in her new office She looks out the window when her new boss, a lady in her mid-forties, walks in and asks her how she’s doing.