Regarding Petitions to Remove Conditions in Tampa.
I am having my clients assert their 5th amendment right in more cases before Tampa CIS. It is clear to me that in many cases, CIS in Tampa is more concerned about proving fraud they believe to be there than in finding out whether or not a couple was really married.
Since I became a lawyer in 1996 I have advised my clients to cooperate with INS and then CIS requests for information and documents. But previously the requests were always reasonable, and they went to the heart of the issue of the case — should the person before CIS get this benefit or not?
After 9/11, things started to change, and the CIS attitude towards the aliens changed — for the worse. The individual officers did what they could, but it appeared that high up in the command structure, someone was making CIS get tough. Fraud became a huge deal (when it was not before — it was just treated like fraud) and finding marriage fraud became a way of distinguishing oneself at CIS if one were ambitious.
The requests for evidence became more and more obnoxious and personal, and CIS began to believe that an absence of evidence proved fraud. Worst of all, the legal presumption an alien is entitled to after being in a marriage for two years after their green card is issued — the presumption that the marriage was real — has been ignored at the CIS level.
Marriage fraud charges were thrown around without much cause — I had more than a few cases go to court where they were thrown out for lacking evidence. 751s are routinely denied in Tampa, and are then approved easily at court, where the rule of law still prevails.
CIS appears to think that a lack of evidence equals fraud, and it appears that now they use their interviews as chances to support their cases, not a chance to hear my clients. My clients deserve to be heard, and will not speak again until and unless they are heard.