Contreras v. Attorney Gen. of U.S., No. 10-4235 (3d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Petitioners, citizens of Mexico, entered the U.S. unlawfully in 1993 and 1998, respectively. Since 2000, husband has been seeking employment-based permanent residency. An individual who would not ordinarily qualify for lawful permanent residency because he entered without inspection, may apply as the beneficiary of a labor certification application or a visa petition filed on or before April 30, 2001, 8 U.S.C. 1255(i). According to the court, petitioners' former attorney provided incompetent, and at times ethically questionable, representation throughout the visa petition process, missing filing deadlines and sending associates to hearings without adequate information about the case, so that an IJ granted voluntary departure and the BIA affirmed denial of a motion to reopen. The Third Circuit denied review. The Due Process Clause does not guarantee an alien effective assistance of counsel in preparing, filing, and appealing a labor certification application and a visa petition before the start of removal proceedings. By the time removal proceedings began, petitioners had accrued more than one year of unlawful presence and would have been ordered removed regardless of counsel's actions.