Author Archives: Sharma-Crawford

Civil Rights Activist and Lawyer, Valarie Kaur, to Make Special Appearance at One Community: Together in Solidarity

Kaur to appear at a collaboration of communities, leadership and faith aimed at overcoming the hate, violence and division pervasive in our neighborhoods.

Kansas City, MO (April 19, 2017) – Valarie Kaur, civil rights activist and lawyer, makes a special appearance at the One Community: Together in Solidarity event on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at the Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church located at 9300 Nall Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas. This event, in collaboration with various communities, leadership and faiths, is being spearheaded by a local attorney who felt compelled to act in the face of the Olathe shooting tragedy.

“After the shooting, I felt like the community needed to find a way back to center. There needed to be a way to unify communities across the metro so that everyone felt safer. The current climate in the U.S. has caused many communities to be fearful and feel vulnerable,” explains Rekha Sharma-Crawford a principal in Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law. “However, information alone isn’t enough to translate into action. Events like One Community: Together in Solidarity are important to help draw communities together with faith leaders, government leaders and law enforcement in support of one another, which can help overcome the feelings of isolation and create stronger bonds between communities; something that only makes us all safer.”

One of the highlights of the event is a special appearance by the inspirational Valarie Kaur, who will be speaking at length, and closing the program with a question and answer session. Kaur is a well-known civil rights activist, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, media commentator, educator, entrepreneur, author and Sikh American justice leader. Her new venture, the Revolutionary Love Project at the University of Southern California, champions the ethic of love in an era of rage. She can be followed on Twitter under @valariekaur.

“Fashioned after the “Not In Our Town” model, One Community: Together in Solidarity is a program that brings together so many amazing organizations like the American Friends Service Committee, Kansas City Coalition Against Hate Violence, Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement, and SevenDays to name just a few. It also brings leadership from governmental agencies in Overland Park, Merriam, Leawood, and even the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City. Representatives from many faiths will also be present to stand together in unity. Everyone has been so generous with their time, space and knowledge in helping make this happen. We hope to help heal the KC metro after this tragedy and show the world of the resilience and community that exists in the middle of the United States. It is hoped that neighbors and other local residents will attend events like One Community: Together in Solidarity and join a movement to stand together against the hate and violence that divides us,” says Sharma-Crawford. As a way to visually show solidarity, ribbons will be handed out at the event and people will be encouraged to display these ribbons across the metro as a sign of solidarity.

The doors open for One Community: Together in Solidarity at 6:00 p.m. and the program begins promptly at 6:30 p.m., lasting until 9:00 p.m. The event is free, but registration is requested.

Trump Administration Displays Disregard for Families and American Due Process with Abrupt Late Night Deportation of Indiana Father

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Beristain Family is distraught this morning as the U.S. government conducted a middle-of-the-night deportation of Roberto Beristain, an Indiana father and businessman whose detention by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in February during a check-in appointment attracted broad attention by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, South Bend Tribune, and other national news media.

Roberto had been held at detention facilities in Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. He argued that his removal order was legally improper, and had asked an immigration judge to rescind the removal order, and to stay removal. He had also filed a habeas corpus petition, likewise seeking to redress the wrongs resulting from a void order. Before either judge had chance to rule, in a highly unusual move, ICE agents rushed him 90 miles from the detention facility to the U.S.-Mexico border at Juarez, Mexico, as the sole detainee being moved. None of his attorneys were notified, as required, of his removal and they only learned about it based on a late night, frantic call from Roberto’s wife, who indicated Roberto was in Juarez already.

“They suddenly told me it was time to go,” Roberto said. “They told me to get my stuff, they put me in the back of a van, and sped toward the border. They took me to another facility while in transport to sign paperwork. I asked to speak with my attorney, but was told there wasn’t time for that. At around 10:00 pm, I was dropped off at the Mexico-U.S. Border and walked into Mexico.”

“What is most distressing here is that Roberto had potential avenues for relief pending before the Immigration Court,” said Adam M. Ansari, managing partner, Ansari & Shapiro LLC, who
has been advocating on behalf of the family since Roberto was detained on February 6, 2017. “This was an attempt to short-circuit the justice process by intentionally removing him before a judge could stop his removal. We were in communication with the government regarding those motions – what they failed to mention was that they were in the process of throwing him out of the country.”

Jessica K. Miles of Noble & Vrapi, Roberto’s counsel in New Mexico and Texas remarked, “the manner and speed with which Roberto was moved from New Mexico to Texas and then deported to Mexico despite several pending motions, coupled with misleading statements from ICE leadership about when he would be removed show a blatant disregard for his procedural rights.”

Chuck Roth, director of litigation of the National Immigrant Justice Center said, “the Trump administration treats noncitizens like Roberto like lawbreakers, even when they do everything in their power to obey the law, but the law was broken in this case by the immigration authorities. ICE’s actions have torn a father from his three U.S. citizen children, a husband from his citizen spouse, and a business owner from his American employees. And all based on a removal order which wasn’t proper in the first place. I’m not sure which is more shocking, the disregard for the harm done wantonly to families and communities, or the lengths to which the government is now willing to go to deport as many people as possible without regard to a person’s right to a fair hearing.”

“The conduct of ICE in perpetuating a continuing due process violation at all costs, is a threat to core American values and should not be overlooked or brushed aside causally,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, of Sharma-Crawford, who drafted the Emergency Motion to Rescind that is pending in Batavia, New York.

Attorneys for Beristain, which include multiple law firms and organizations across the country, have stated they will continue to fight on behalf of Roberto, and will pursue all available legal and political remedies to bring Roberto back and correct the mistake immigration officials created nearly two decades ago.

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law Announces New Focus on National Interest Waivers (NIW)

In addition to its other practice areas, Kansas City-based firm also will concentrate on clients who contribute to the national interest and may be eligible for permanent residence in the EB-2 immigrant visa preference category. 

Kansas City, MO (September 21, 2016)  Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law announces they have added a new focus to their immigration law practice. In addition to other areas, the firm also will concentrate on clients who may fall under the EB-2 immigrant visa preference category for U.S. employment-based permanent residency. The firm is well recognized for litigating complicated immigration cases, and often takes cases in which clients’ have unique situations and life stories. Given the heightened standards faced by those seeking residency through the National Interest Waiver process, the firm’s expertise in litigating complex cases places them in an unrivaled position to handle these cases.

“As trial lawyers, we’re different. We believe legal cases are about understanding people’s stories. We believe that decision makers need to understand the caliber of our clients, what they do to benefit the greater good, and how the law supports their cases,” explains Rekha Sharma-Crawford a principal in Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC.

The EB-2 immigrant visa preference category includes “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and individuals who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States,” as created by congress with the Immigration Act of 1990. EB-2 categories usually require the Labor Certification application followed by the employer-filed I-140.

The NIW petition, however, waives EB-2’s Labor Certification requirement, but a person must fulfill three requirements that demonstrate permanent residency is in the nation’s best interest: work in the U.S. has “substantial intrinsic merit,” is “national in scope,” and “waiving the labor certification requirement would benefit the national interests of the United States.” The term “national interest” does not have a statutory or regulatory definition, which is where it becomes essential to be able to help explain, in plain language, what it is that the person does and its wider impact.

There are many ways that an individual’s contributions can further a national interest. For example, does the work that the individual performs help the American economy? Does it improve health care? Are they on the verge of a cutting edge discovery that has the potential to change or even create an industry? Other possibilities may include things like:

  • Will it create affordable housing for the poor, elderly and children?
  • Will the environment and natural resources usage improve?
  • Will it unlock a medical mystery and help change the way medical matters are approached or handled in a particular field?

“When we began to think about expanding our services, we realized that we had a passion for innovation. We use it in the way we litigate and we understand the way creative thought can lead to profound change. Thus, visa cases for members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the U.S. became our new passion. These cases appeal to our curiosity and unwavering need to understand and tell their stories in a way only trial lawyers can,” states Sharma-Crawford.

About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law

Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a nationally recognized firm specializing in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.

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National Immigration Law Center Sues to Force Kansas to Disclose Information about Discriminatory Treatment of Refugees

KANSAS City, MO. & LOS ANGELES, CA., (April 5, 2016) – Kansas may not keep its unlawful discrimination against Syrian refugees a secret, according to a lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and co-counsel Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC, under the Kansas Open Records Act. The suit, filed after more than two months of requests and appeals, seeks to learn more about how officials are implementing Gov. Sam Brownback’s unconstitutional instruction to state agencies not to assist in the resettlement of certain individuals designated by the federal government as refugees.

Last November, Brownback issued an executive order instructing state officials to engage in discriminatory practices to make it difficult for Syrian refugees to begin new lives in Kansas. He has since issued a more ambiguous order that could have the same pernicious effect.

“Syrian refugees have fled unspeakable violence, undergone years of background checks and want nothing more than to begin their lives anew in America,” said Melissa Keaney, attorney for the NILC. “Through his order, Gov. Brownback may be pushing his state agencies to make their new lives in America even more difficult, if not impossible—and he has done so in secret. We filed this lawsuit today because the public has a right to know if the state is engaging in discriminatory, unconstitutional behavior.”

“Gov. Brownback’s latest executive order leaves out way more than it includes,” said Justin Cox, cooperating attorney with the NILC. “Nowhere does it explain the circumstances under which the state would conclude that a particular refugee is a security risk, who within the state would make that determination or if it has already been made. For all that’s known publicly, Kansas could be barring refugees from the state solely because of their religion or country of birth.”

More than ten weeks ago, NILC requested information under the Kansas Open Records Act from the governor’s office and two agencies involved in administering federally funded benefits to refugees: the Kansas Department for Women and Children and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Under the law, state officials have three business days to act on a request for public records.

“This lawsuit demonstrates what is all too common: public officials routinely violate the Kansas Open Records Act, making a mockery of the law’s promise of governmental transparency,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, who is serving as co-counsel on the case. “Usually the public officials get away with ignoring the law, but not this time.”

NILC and Sharma-Crawford Attorneys hope that the lawsuit will compel the state to provide more information about how it is implementing the executive order in order to shine a public light on the state’s potentially unconstitutional, discriminatory actions.

The petition for declaratory and injunctive relief is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/NILC-v-Brownback-KORA-2016-03-30.pdf.

About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys At Law
Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law specializes in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.

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An immigration attorney packs a suitcase made of silver and brown leather beore boarding an airplan to travel abroad

An Immigration Attorney Abroad

Being an immigration attorney, one gets to meet people from all over the world. The lives of our clients provide a unique opportunity to be aware of world cultures and world events. Often the things that divide us and the things that uplift us are more shared than not. The desire to provide a safe, loving environment for our families, the need to be able to trust our governments, the hope of a better future for our children and the dream of calling a small part of the earth as our very own, all connects us in ways that we are often quick to overlook. And yet, when it comes to the immigration debate, we cut corners and allow the news media, the politicians and our own insecurities drive the narrative. One reason for this may be that many Americans never venture outside of the US. That really needs to change.

Traveling the world is a remarkable thing. Little else provides such prospective. These journeys provide the opportunity to understand that there is room for celebrating both assimilation as well as differences. An added, yet important, benefit is that American travelers are provided a glimpse into how other countries view the U.S. Understanding how the world views us is essential if we are ever going to get past our current state of affairs: a government that does not function, a media that does not inform, systems that do not value education, the elderly, the poor or our military vets. The residents of countries abroad all ask, “how long can they let this continue?”

Stepping out of the U.S., it becomes evident that there are countries where the right of the people and the work of the government seem more aligned. In those places the government works for the people and the people demand more of each other. While no country is perfect it is refreshing to see courtesy, respect and understanding from, individuals, corporations and the government itself.

There are immigrants in every country. Traveling abroad promotes an understanding that the dreams we have are really no different from one another. It also shows that there are a variety of immigration systems that may provide an answer to America’s broken immigration system. Systems that value cultural diversity while setting up an orderly and timely process that allows individuals to avoid reacting out of desperation. People, as a general rule, want to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons. That need is in our global DNA.

Writing this from half way around the world, it seems clear that America has lost its way. Sitting in a nation where the headlines are more concerned about the well being of its people as opposed to the most recent Kardashian crisis, America has much to ponder.