Today Nancy flew to Chicago, reaching and crossing the Great Lakes in 2 hours. It took us – albeit by a less direct route – 20 days by recumbent tricycle to reach Chicago.
We met on the Blue Line platform at LaSalle Street. We had not seen one another for three weeks. (Daughter Rebecca, who flew in also, took this candid photo. You see her below in her Columbia University graduate school regalia with her brother Benjamin, who graduates from The University of Chicago this weekend.)
This happy occasion, and how much I missed Nancy these past weeks, makes poignant the plight of refugees whose families are divided by persecution that forces some family members to flee.
Those divided families suffer unnecessarily because of America’s crushing and incompetent immigration bureaucracy.
Consider two examples.
A few days before pedaling off to the Great Lakes, I filed an asylum application for a pro bono (free) client – currently in lawful temporary status in the United States – who risked life and limb to protect Americans abroad, and whom fanatics have promised to kill for reasons tied to that protection. While I was on the road, the Government returned the application to me, more than three weeks after it was filed. Immigration authorities refuse to accept it because they say that my client is in immigration court proceedings, so we must “tell it to the judge” (my words, not theirs). But my client is not now, and never has been, in immigration court!
Another pro bono client just received a summons to appear in immigration court to defend against removal (deportation). But months earlier, that client – whose presence in the United States always has been lawful – was granted asylum in the United States and has the right to live and work here!
Both these problems will be solved, eventually, after I spend time and money to force the Government to do its job properly, and after the Government spends more of the People’s time and money to fix what the Government itself has broken.
What would these clients do if they had no lawyer to speak for them? How would they know where to begin to set things right?
These examples, writ large, are the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration administration. Waste. Human suffering. Injustice. I could tell you stories . . .
When cases involve separated families, those families can remain separated for a long time. When we must “tell it to the judge,” the immigration courts are so sclerotic that we might not get a hearing for three years.
Think of what is being done in our names.