Image Source: onpoint.wbur.org
Image Source: onpoint.wbur.org
CHICAGO – A court ruling on a messy immigration case of a Filipina is now a legal precedent.

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Chief Clerk Donna Carr informed Chicago-based immigration lawyer Richard Hanus that a Nigerian immigration applicant is now admissible as a United States permanent resident in keeping with a ruling on Hanus’s previous case involving his Filipino client, Elizabeth Keathley.

Keathley succeeded in appealing an order for her removal after she was misled by an Illinois official to register and vote even though she was not an American citizen.[box type=”default” size=”large”] She voted in an election despite her not being a US citizen [/box]The Falls Church, Virginia-based EOIR, an arm of the United States Attorney General or U.S. Department of Justice, whose mission is to “adjudicate immigration cases by fairly, expeditiously, uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation’s immigration laws,” set aside an appeal by the Department of Homeland Security of an immigration judge’s April 4, 2012 ruling granting the Nigerian immigration applicant due course to adjust his immigration status “under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1255(a).”

The respondent, a native and citizen of Nigeria, has “filed an opposition to the appeal, as well as the new legal authority, to the Department of Homeland Security.”

The EOIR board said, “We will affirm the Immigration judge’s decision. We review Immigration Judge’s findings of fact for clear error, but not questions of law, discretion and judgment, and all other issues in appeals, de novo (again).”

EOIR, in a one-page decision on removal proceedings addressed to Hanus, the Nigerian’s counsel, and DHS’s Assistant Chief Counsel Minnie D. Yuen cited an adverse decision by an immigration judge in the case of Keathley v. Holder that was appealed before the Chicago-based U.S. Seventh Circuit Court. The same court later “held that the ‘official authorization’ defense is applicable in cases where an alien would otherwise be inadmissible under section 212(a)(10)(D) of the Act.

Keathley, 34 years old, a native of Pigtauranan, Pangantucan, Bukidnon, Philippines, won last year the landmark ruling of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit, which ruled, “A person who behaves with scrupulous honesty only to be misled by a state official should be as welcome in this country in 2012 as she was when she entered in 2004.”

Keathley married John Keathley, a U.S. citizen, in a ceremony performed in the Philippines in 2003. In 2004, Keathley was issued a nonimmigrant K-3 visa so that she could live in the U.S. while she waits the decision of John’s request for her permanent residence as immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.

Shortly after she arrived in the U.S., Mrs. Keathley applied for and received a driver’s license. The State of Illinois also sent her a voter registration card and she voted in the November 2006 congressional elections.

When she was interviewed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) on her permanent residence application, she disclosed that she voted in the elections. Immediately, her application for a “green card” was denied for violating 18 U.S.C. Section 611 “by voting in a federal election (that) renders her inadmissible, and thus ineligible for any benefit as John’s spouse. An immigration judge ordered her removal and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the ruling.”

Although she admitted she had voted, Mrs. Keathley “contends that she did not violate Section 611 because the state official’s advice gave her a good defense of ‘entrapment by estoppel’—a misleadingly named doctrine that, as we observed in Kimani v. Holder, should be called ‘official authorization’ instead. That name would better fit the doctrine’s actual nature and scope.”

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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