In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld an Immigration Judge's decision that Mr. Reyes-Cornejo did not make a showing of extreme hardship to a qualified relative, and that, separately, he did not merit a favorable exercise of discretion because of his criminal history. Israel Reyes-Cornejo, 12-1712 & 12-3285, (7th Cir. Oct. 28 2013).
Mr. Reyes-Cornejo and his family entered the United States without inspection in 1994. At 18 years old, Mr. Reyes-Cornejo began having trouble with the law. He was charged and convicted of multiple offenses, including but not limited to domestic violence and unlawful use of a weapon from an incident with a neighbor.
Sometime later, Mr. Reyes-Cornejo was placed in removal proceedings. He argued that his United States Citizen family members including his wife, step-daughter, and two year old child would suffer extreme hardship if he was ordered removed from the country. Mr. Reyes-Cornejo proceeded without counsel at his merits hearings. He presented evidence that he and his wife would suffer financial hardship due to childcare costs and that his step-daughter would suffer from separation because of his involvement with her education and extra curricular activities.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that Mr. Reyes-Cornejo did not show that his United States Citizen family members would suffer extreme hardship upon his removal, and that even if he had made such a showing, he did not warrant a favorable exercise of discretion due to his criminal history. The Court reasoned that financial issues and issues of separation did not amount to extreme hardship. Further, the Court reasoned that even if financial issues and issues of separation did amount to extreme hardship, Mr. Reyes-Cornejo did not warrant a favorable exercise of discretion because of his "utter disregarding for the law" referring to his criminal convictions. Id. In doing so, the Court referred to a BIA decision providing that "as the negative factors grow more serious, it becomes incumbent upon the applicant to introduce additional offsetting... evidence." Matter of Menez-Moralez, 21 I. & N. Dec. 296, 201 (BIA 1996).
What is the take-away lesson from this recent decision? The more criminal history that you have, the more important it is to show that your family would suffer extreme hardship if you were removed from the United States. Please contact Wickens Law Group to address your criminal history and how to best present your family's extreme hardship to the Immigration Judge.