15 Focused on What Matters “José” is a charmer. As a baby, he was so adorable one doctor couldn’t help slipping the word “cute” into his medical records. Now eight, José has neurofibromatosis 1, a genetic disease that causes tumor growth. Even with exceptional medical care, he has severe challenges. So when his mother, “Maria,” received a deportation notice, she faced an impossible choice: take José with her to Guatemala, away from the services he needed, or leave him in the United States with his father, who worked and couldn’t care for him full time. Distraught and desperate for a solution, Maria turned to Project Hope, an agency serving low-income women and their children. Two weeks before Maria’s deportation hearing, Project Hope’s executive director contacted Mintz Levin’s John Markey, an attorney who serves on the Board of Project Hope and chairs its Board of Advisors. Attorneys Stefanie Giuliano Abhar and Martha Koster, and former Mintz Levin attorney Bee Mandell, stepped in and filed for a continuance, delaying Maria’s hearing for 18 months. With a new date set, the team built a solid case on the basis of cancellation of removal, which required demonstrating that Maria’s deportation would cause exceptional and extremely unusual harm to a US citizen or a lawful-permanent-resident parent, spouse, or child. “The argument rarely succeeds, but it was the only basis for fighting Maria’s deportation,”Martha says. Born in this country and a US citizen, José, who uses a wheelchair, relies on his mother to help him bathe, eat, and use the toilet. An inoperable tumor on one leg has left it shorter than the other, and Maria takes José to frequent medical appointments for treatments that may slow the tumor’s growth. He also has severe asthma and a learning disability. Maria’s lawyers documented José’s medical history and gathered affidavits establishing that he couldn’t receive adequate care in Guatemala or the special education he requires. The team also had to establish that when Maria received the notice of deportation, she’d been living in this country continuously for 10 years. Project Hope helped collect pharmacy prescriptions, wire transfers, and other supporting data. Stefanie represented Maria at her deportation hearing, with Bee assisting with immigration court procedures.The team worked together to prepare the briefs. The judge said she’d seen few cases as compelling, and took the very unusual step of immediately ordering a visa number for a green card. Maria beamed when the judge said, “Welcome to America,” adding, “You have a hard road ahead of you, but I’m confident that you will continue to take good care of your family.” When I called and asked for pro bono help for this hard-working family, Mintz Levin came through. Your attorneys were just terrific. Thank you to all of you, from the bottom of our hearts. Sr. Margaret A. Leonard Executive Director Project Hope Taking Care of Our Own Addressing the Needs of First-Generation Americans