Cleary Gottlieb Wins Cancellation of Removal for Former Soviet Political Refugee

March 27, 2014

Cleary Gottlieb was successful in their application for cancellation of removal on behalf of pro bono client Mr. S, a 61-year-old political asylee who fled the former Soviet Union with his family in the 1980s. This case was part of a new project between Cleary and the Legal Aid Society representing immigrants in cancellation of removal cases.

The Department of Homeland Security detained Mr. S on March 29, 2011 and initiated removal proceedings against him stemming from a small number of petty, non-violent crimes committed in the early 1990s. On February 28, Judge Alice Segal of the Immigration Court in New York City granted Mr. S’s requested relief. Cleary continues to represent Mr. S as he applies for U.S. citizenship.

Mr. S committed several non-violent crimes after gaining lawful permanent resident status in the early 1990s, including shoplifting and theft of services from hopping subway turnstiles. These crimes are considered “crimes involving moral turpitude,” the commission of which makes lawful permanent residents “inadmissible” and thus subject to removal proceedings. Mr. S sought relief under former section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which permits Immigration Judges, in their discretion, to waive inadmissibility if an applicant has been a lawful permanent resident for at least seven years and is not otherwise ineligible for relief. Each 212(c) case is judged on its own merits in consideration of both adverse and positive factors. Mr. S’s convictions were old, minor and non-violent; he is the primary caregiver for his elderly parents; and he has no friends, family, or citizenship in the former Soviet Union. Judge Segal was persuaded and granted the 212(c) waiver.

Mr. S’s cancellation of removal application was filed in March 2012 and Cleary represented Mr. S at his hearing before the Immigration Court in December 2013.