As a lurker here and definitely not a lawyer I have one piece of info to add regarding yesterday’s hearings. There was a time when I had to make a difficult decision, I was running out of legal options to remain in the US, I could simply go underground as an illegal alien, I could file for citizenship through my fiancée (after we were married) or I could go to court and challenge the Immigration and Naturalization’s deportation orders. I chose to go to court even though it was frickin’ expensive as hell, and that was for a lawyer who would take the case only if I did the leg work and the research. Because of a civil war where I came from I was seeking asylum.
Fast forward to the court date. We walk into court and my lawyer mentions that there is one particular judge he is hoping will not be the one to hear my case. Sure enough as we turn the corner, my attorney goes “shit”, it is him. So from the start a situation that I was incredibly nervous about has just taken a turn for the worse. As the hearing is called to order, the government presented its case first for about 20 minutes. Then my attorney presented my case and I was put on the witness stand. Then I realized why my attorney did not want this judge.
My attorney questioned me for about a half hour, and then I started to get up from the witness stand (without being dismissed – wasn’t familiar with courtroom etiquette), the judge goes “young man please remain on the stand, I have questions for you.” The judge then proceeded to question me for 3 hours. 3 hours of intense, in depth grilling. As the grilling goes on from time to I would glance at the govt attorney and seethe inside as he sat there with a smug look on his face.
Finally, the govt delivered its closing argument, during that time, my attorney glances over at the notes I have prepared and asks me if he can use my notes for the closing argument as they state the case better than his own notes. By this point I figured I would be lucky to just be denied asylum, a more likely scenario might involve the judge personally driving me to O’Hare airport and deporting me himself. After my attorney presented his closing arguments the judge adjourned court for 2 hours.
During the break my fiancée asked my attorney what he thinks the chances are that we would win the case. He somberly told us – we were more than likely looking at a denial of asylum in this case, he said given the many times he had argued before this judge his experience was telling him, the ruling would probably go against us. When we returned to the court and the judge began to read his ruling, we all figured we had lost. The judge basically was saying that in so much as there was a civil war raging in my country, the entire country was not engulfed by war, so in theory I should be able to return there and find somewhat of a safe haven.
Then he said, “In conclusion, while I had not proven that my life was in imminent grave danger, he was extremely satisfied that I was being a very productive member of society, and the government had not proven sufficient cause for him to deny me asylum, so he was in fact granting me asylum.”
My whole point for rambling on here is that Jeff Toobin and the other sensationalists out there who already know how the court is going rule need to sit back and shut up. We need more reporting and less sensationalism. And to those who are disheartened, it is not over by far, keep the faith, there will always be twists and turns, that is inevitable, but you must keep the faith.
I would bet you Mitt Romney’s $10,000 that everyone of the doomsday predictors would have also predicted that there was no way in hell a black guy, with the middle name Hussein who was only a state senator in 2004 would ascend to the presidency in 2008, and execute the duties of said office in a manner that in my opinion puts him in the top 5% of POTUSes this nation has had.
PS A quick update to the story, it’s been about 16 years since that court hearing and the fiancee and I got married two years later and now have two boys 11 and 9, and I am a citizen. It took 14 years to get my citizenship and even then, as I said, there will always be twists and turns – during the swearing in ceremony a fire broke out in the building and we had to leave the facility for about and hour while the fire dept fixed things. But it all worked out.