Musings on Immigration
Little did Oscar De La Hoya know, that when he lost his first bout in controversial and memorable fashion to Felix Trinidad, he helped win a deserving fellow his permanent resident status. On September 18, 1999, Felix Trinidad beat Oscar De La Hoya in a hotly disputed split decision, De La Hoya’s first professional loss. As fate would have it, that same day, my client, Mr. Rosas arrived in Georgia, completing his long journey from Guatemala to the United States.
Fast forward twelve years. Mr. Rosas was placed in removal proceedings after being arrested for driving without a license in Cobb County. Having been in the U.S. for more than ten years, never been arrested, and being the father of a U.S. citizen child with Down Syndrome, Mr. Rosas was seeking Non-LPR Cancellation of Removal which would cancel his removal from the U.S. and result in Mr. Rosas obtaining his permanent residency. There was a catch. Mr. Rosas is completely illiterate, and given the fact that he is unable to read, never kept a single document (What was the point? He didn’t know what the documents said.) to prove that he had been in the U.S. for the past ten years as required. At trial, the government attorney stipulated to Mr. Rosas’ good moral character, and the fact that his U.S. citizen child would suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if Mr. Rosas were removed to Guatemala.
The only outstanding issue was whether Mr. Rosas could establish that he had been present in the United States for the requisite ten years prior to being placed in removal proceedings. With the lack of documentation, Mr. Rosas would have to do so based on his testimony alone, a very difficult task under current immigration law. Enter De La Hoya’s memorable loss in 1999. Mr. Rosas testified that he knew exactly the date he came to the U.S. because, when he arrived at his friend’s house in Georgia, the De La Hoya fight was just coming to a close, and all of the friends who had gathered to view the fight were screaming in disbelief that the judges had robbed De La Hoya of a victory. Mr. Rosas went on to provide details about the split decision, Felix Trinidad, and De La Hoya’s reaction to the loss. His memories of the occasion were very vivid, and Mr. Rosas testified steadily, credibly and with great detail.
As luck would have it, the Judge deciding Mr. Rosas’ case is a boxing fan and recalled the De La Hoya loss to Trinidad as vividly as Mr. Rosas. Based on Mr. Rosas’ detailed description, and the Judge’s familiarity with the fight, the Judge (and the government attorney) was convinced that Mr. Rosas had entered the U.S. in September, 1999, and therefore established his eligibility for and warranted cancellation of removal. In short, because De La Hoya lost his fight in such memorable fashion, he helped win Mr. Rosas’ permanent residence through cancellation of removal. On behalf of Mr. Rosas, thank you Mr. De La Hoya. Sometimes even when you lose you win.