Discussion Points for Punto Legal- February 17, 2016
Last week, I talked about tattoos and consular processing in Ciudad Juarez. When you go to Juarez to fix your papers, you have to get a medical exam from one of three clinics. These clinics have contracts with the United States consulate. At the medical clinic, you are asked four different times if you have tattoos. At one point, you are required to remove all your clothing and even required to walk naked so that your body can be inspected for tattoos. All of your tattoos will be noted in the medical record. Then you see the consular officer.
If a tattoo sends the wrong message to an interviewing officer, for example, if the officer thinks your tattoo is a gang-related tattoo, he may find you are seeking to enter the United States to engage in criminal activity and deny your permanent residence.
Gang tattoos tell a United States officer that you have been affiliated with a gang and are likely to commit crimes if admitted to the United States.
Of course, you can get a tattoo removed. The gold standard for tattoo removal is a Q-switched laser. But, complete laser tattoo removal requires numerous treatment sessions, typically spaced at least seven weeks apart.
At Ted Hess and Associates, we have started to use a gang tattoo expert to advise us and our clients if tattoos are going to be a problem. Our expert is a retired Colorado state trooper who worked on gang issues for eight years. We photograph each tattoo and get an opinion regarding whether they are gang-related or not.
I often joke that the Denver immigration court died in 2014. Recently, I saw the “wait time” statistics for the Denver immigration court. The Denver immigration court has 9,420 pending cases. This is the highest number of cases the court has ever had. In 2006, for example, it had less than 3,000 cases. Now it has 9,420 cases. The average wait time for a case is 933 days! That is the longest wait time of any immigration court in the United States. To put it into perspective, 933 days is over two and one-half years!