Helping the ‘illegal’ immigrants? No, just explaining the law and spelling out their rights


America is more tolerant, with more opportunity, than any other country.

Q: I think it’s great you’re willing to provide immigration advice to those who need it. Very noble of you. What I don’t understand is you assisting illegal immigrants with instructions on how to circumvent our judicial system! Aren’t you afraid that you might be hurting our country?

Jon Girodes, East Elmhurst, Queens

A: Thanks for writing. While I don’t consider myself noble simply for helping people understand immigration law, I’ll accept the compliment. I don’t agree that by explaining the law, including people’s rights, that I am assisting people in circumventing our judicial system. And of course, I don’t think I am hurting our country.

With all America’s problems, ours is the greatest country on Earth. We are more tolerant, with more opportunity, than any other. Among the reasons America is so great is our welcoming of immigrants. Famous ones like Albert Einstein, tennis star Martina Navratilova and Google founder Sergey Brin and the not-so-well-known like the millions who work in jobs skilled and unskilled, throughout our nation.

But America is great also because of the legal rights and protections afforded to all. By helping immigrants, I’m helping America. And I’m very pleased to do so.

Q: Will my having gotten work by falsely claiming U.S. citizenship keep me from getting the status?

I am applying for a U status for crime victims. I was a victim of assault and robbery in 2000. With my help, the perpetrators were convicted. I am applying for U status. My concern is that I got a job by checking a box on the employee verification form saying that I was a U.S. citizen.

Name withheld, Dallas

A: You can get U status despite your having made a false claim to U.S. citizenship when completing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. A U visa or status applicant can apply for a waiver of all grounds of inadmissibility except for those who are Nazis or perpetrators of genocide, torture or extrajudicial killing. To get the waiver, you need to prove that it is “in the national or public interest” to grant it.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, New York, NY 10004 or email to Follow him on Twitter @awernick.