Trigger Warning: This post contains a lot of curse words.

What's the reason for the forthcoming salty language? It's because we immigration lawyers work in a system that is utterly broken, and in order to make any progress at all for our clients, we need to hold our tongues and remain professional with our government colleagues.

Immigration Judges, court staff, DHS attorneys (the prosecutors in Immigration Court), USCIS officers, and Asylum Officers all have a lot of power over our clients' lives. Losing our temper with these people rarely results in good outcomes for our clients, and so we attorneys must practice forbearance. We often can't say what we are thinking for fear of jeopardizing our clients' cases. But today, I propose to throw off the veil of civility and say what's on my mind.

Let's start with a relatively common scenario. We arrive for a court hearing, and the DHS attorney says that they do not have the file. When this happens, most judges will re-set the case for a different day.

What I say: Thank you, your Honor. I would just point out that the client has been waiting a long time for her case, and so we'd appreciate the soonest available date. After that, the judge usually gives us a date in the distant future.

What I am thinking: What the [expletive deleted]! DHS knew they didn't have the [expletive deleted] file, so why the [expletive deleted] didn't they tell me about this before I prepped the client for the [expletive deleted] case and drove all the way out to the [expletive deleted] court! Now we'll have to update the [expletive deleted] country conditions and the entire case. What an [expletive deleted] waste of time!

OK. I know I promised to fill this post with potty words. But I feel bad putting impolite language into writing. Let's try this another way. Instead of [expletive deleted], I will write *@&#!! and you can substitute the rudest, most disgusting word you can think of. With that in mind, let's look at another example.

Bureaucrats are famous for passing the buck, including--and maybe especially--bureaucrats in the U.S. immigration system. Indeed, with notable exceptions, they have turned passing the buck into a form of high art. So when you ask the Asylum Office to do something, such as add a dependent to an existing case or issue a biometric appointment, they often respond by telling you to "contact USCIS." They might as well tell you to pray to your favorite deity and ask for deliverance.

In a recent case, I attempted to add a spouse to a pending application. I followed the standard procedure (which works about 50% of the time) and mailed the required documents to the USCIS Service Center. When that failed, I contacted my local office by email. After my third email, they responded that I should "confirm with the Service Center that they have received the application" and that if I needed further assistance, I should "call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283."

What I emailed: The Service Center was not responsive, which is a common problem. Many lawyers have this problem and it has been ongoing for years. I would appreciate it if my email could be sent to a supervisor to see if the spouse can be added (in the past when we had this problem, [the Asylum Office] was able to assist).... If there is anything I can do to facilitate the process, please let me know. Thank you, Jason

What I wanted to email: Are you mentally ill?! When is the last time the *@&#!! Service Center has ever responded to anyone? Adding a spouse to an existing case should be easy, but it has been a *@&#!! disaster for as long as I've been practicing law. How *@&#!! hard is it for you people to get a working system in place and then let us know how it works?! This is the same government that put a man on the *@&#!! moon, but it can't add one person's case to another. Un-be-*@&#!!-leavable.

Did *@&#!! work for you? Or is [expletive deleted] better? I'm not really sure. Anyway, here's another example. This one happens all the time. The Immigration Court needs to schedule my client for a hearing, and so instead of asking for my availability, they simply schedule the hearing. In most cases, they choose a date when I have another case or some other obligation, and so I am forced to file a motion (a formal request with the court) for a new date.

What I write in the motion: The Court has scheduled this case on X date without checking my availability. I am not available on that date and time due to a previously scheduled hearing. See Exhibit A [court order showing my other case]. Accordingly, I respectfully request a different date. My list of available dates is below. Thank you for your consideration of this Motion.

What I want to write: The Court will be shocked--shocked!!--to learn that I represent more than one client. I also have a family and I sometimes need to spend time with them. Accordingly, it would have been nice if you had sent an email or called me to check my availability before assigning me a new date. On the other hand, why should your clerk spend two minutes of his precious time reaching out to me, when I can spend an hour or two writing a motion, repeatedly calling the Court to ask for a decision on the motion, and stressing out about whether the motion will even be granted. And of course, even if you do grant the motion, there is a good chance you will ignore my schedule (attached) and set the Court date for another day when I am not available, and then we can start this whole [expletive deleted] process over again.

Yes, for some reason I went back to [expletive deleted]. I don't know why.

I could go on (and on, and on, and on), but I think that is enough for now. Maybe next time, I'll let you know what we attorneys think of our clients...

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com