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May 27, 2014

L.D.G. sought U visa protection after she and her children were kidnapped and assaulted in Illinois in 2006.  As a result of the crimes committed against them and related ongoing threats, the family was forced them to close their business. Thrust into poverty, and unknown to L.D.G., her husband began dealing drugs—a mistake which led to a criminal drug conviction for L.D.G. when police found drugs in the couple’s car and home.  L.D.G. pleaded guilty and served probation before she was placed her in removal proceedings in 2007. L.D.G. applied for a U visa, a form of protection available to immigrants who are victims of crimes, as well as a waiver so that the government would consider her case in spite of her conviction.

When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied the waiver, she asked the immigration judge assigned to her case to consider her waiver. He found he lacked jurisdiction over the waiver and ordered L.D.G. deported.

The Seventh Circuit, however, found that the statute contains two waivers that U visa applicants may use to excuse factors that prevent them from receiving U visas. While one of those waivers may only be issued by USCIS, immigration judges have concurrent jurisdiction over the other waiver. Even though USCIS denied L.D.G.’s waiver application, the immigration judge can determine whether she qualifies for the other waiver.

Counsel filed the petition for review on January 2, 2013 and the Court granted the petition on March 12, 2014. L.D.G. was represented by Chuck Roth and Lisa Koop of NIJC and Megan Thibert-Ind, Jocelyn Francoeur, and Amy Doehring of McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

Read NIJC's press release here.


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