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Cal. Judge Blasts Immigration Laws

(CN) - A federal judge in Los Angeles called the denial of three U.S. nonimmigrant visitors' applications for extended stay legal but "absurd," a "testament to the bewildering traps that immigration laws set in the path of persons trying to comply with such laws."

Judge Howard Matz further stated in his order granting the visitors' request for summary judgment that it would be "a drastic injustice" for them to be deported because of their "understandable failure to negotiate the confusing pitfalls" of immigration laws and regulations.

Stella Velasco, a Philippine citizen and mother of two, came to the United States with her children as nonimmigrant visitors in April 2007 for a period of three months.

Before the expiration of her stay, an application for change of status was filed on her behalf. Applications for her children were also filed, but the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services denied all three in December 2007, six months after the expiration of their stay.

Employer Westside Wholesale Electric then filed an application for immigrant worker status on Velasco's behalf, and applications for permanent residency for her and her children were filed concurrently.

The work visa application was approved but the residencies were denied on the ground that Stella failed to maintain continuously "a lawful status" for 180 days past her last lawful admission.

The district court ruled that although the period during which Stella and her children's petitions for immigrant worker status constituted a "period of stay authorized by the Attorney General." It was not one of the lawful statuses that count towards the 180-day grace period for filing status changes, according to memos and policies within U.S. immigration agencies. The district judge expressed the court's discontent with the laws and regulations that force petitioners to work with a legal system that considers them both lawfully present in the U.S. but not in "lawful status."

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