Three days ago I wrote about two groups of extremist attorneys. One group, what I termed the "extreme pessimists", was advising that individuals avoid applying for Deferred Action at all costs. The other group, who I called the “extreme optimists", advocated mass applications without regard for qualifications or consequences. In that post I explained how I felt it was unwise to follow the advice of either group.
Today, I wish to discuss another group. Their position is far more dangerous than the extreme pessimists or the extreme optimists. Let us call them the "caveat advenas." You have probably heard of the phrase, caveat emptor. It is Latin for "let the buyer beware." The phrase is a warning to buyers to be cautious about the quality of merchandise that they are buying. In U.S. property law, caveat emptor tends to apply to the sale of a residential home where the homeowner is selling to another buyer. The homeowner-seller is generally not liable to the new buyer for defects on the property so long as the seller does not actively conceal latent defects or make material misrepresentations about the property. In other words, the buyer is warned that he has virtually no protection against a bad purchase.
I present to you another phrase, caveat advena- "Let the immigrant beware". The group that I mention here is advising against anyone getting any sort of advisement as to their rights to apply for Deferred Action. What would they have the individual do who wonders if he qualifies for Deferred Action? Apply blindly, as the extreme optimists would advise? Avoid Deferred Action as the extreme pessimists would suggest? The decision is irrelevant to the caveat advenas, so long as the decision is made without consulting about one's rights.
The idea sounds as absurd to me as it probably does to you. Is obtaining information bad? Should consulting about one's rights be discouraged? The idea goes contrary to everything that this country stands for. The preamble of the Declaration of Independence includes the word "rights" 5 times in a span of just 202 words. The U.S. Constitution was first amended in 1791 to include a Bill of Rights. Anyone who is arrested is informed of his rights- he has a right against self-incrimination and he has a right to counsel. The right to counsel in criminal cases is so paramount that if the individual is unable to afford an attorney, he has a right to have one appointed for him at no cost to him. As you can see, the ability to know one's rights is a centerpiece of our republic.
The caveat advenas do not want immigrants to know their rights. They discourage potential Deferred Action applicants from becoming informed about their particular situation. At this point, you are probably thinking that I am describing some group of individuals who stand on the street corner proclaiming insanely that immigrants are the cause of problems ranging from unemployment to the summers becoming increasingly hotter. It would be easier if that was who I was speaking of, because then we could spot the mad man in the crowd. He would be the one with the dirty clothes, unkempt hair and long beard waving his arms frantically in the air as he proclaims that the world is going to end.
The fact is that many of the caveat advenas are indistinguishable from you and I. Some were immigrants and others children of immigrants. Some of them are even members of Congress. Most of them claim to be in favor of immigrant rights. Yet, none of them want immigrants to know their rights. Let the immigrant beware.
What would cause them to claim to be on the side of immigrants, while advocating that immigrants wallow in the waters of ignorance and risk getting caught in the cataracts of failure?
What could be their rationale for causing harm the very people they say they want to help? I do not know. The answer must dwell in the deepest reaches of their minds, where malevolent thoughts find fertile ground.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), fortunately does not share the sinistrous view of the caveat advenas. On its website, USCIS states, “Not sure what immigration benefit to apply for or which USCIS forms you need to file? Then you may need immigration legal advice.”
Finally, I write these words after meeting a lady who came into our office in tears. Her immigrant husband is detained and runs the risk of being removed from the country, for filing for the wrong benefit at the wrong time. They did not seek legal advice before applying. They went into the process blindly as the caveat advenas would have them do. Now their dreams of being together forever have turned into a nightmare of separation and incarceration.
The immigrant should not have to beware. Unlike in the case of caveat emptor, the immigrant does have protection against a bad process. He, along with anyone else on this land, has rights and one of those rights is the right to seek counsel.
The above information is provided for information purposes. It should be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.