Difficult Cases about Individual Illegal Aliens Strain the Judges Involved

Or why wasn’t an illegal alien hero, a genuine one, given an EB-2?

By David North on April 20, 2023

While our focus here at the Center for Immigration Studies is, and must be, on the big picture of immigration policy, there are, from time to time, individual cases of illegal aliens that must give presiding judges a bit of heartburn as they decide them — instances in which the alien of interest is clearly in the nation illegally, but otherwise has a compelling case.

For instance, a man from Colombia, who was once deported because of “possession of an illegal substance” and who had re-entered illegally. His full name is Jairo Alberto Mejia Vega, or MV hereafter.

But MV had something else on the record, according to Law360: “In 2008 he was at a school festival when he tackled an active shooter, knocked away the gun and helped restrain the shooter until law enforcement showed up.”

MV acted heroically and may have saved American lives, but when he sought a waiver of ineligibility DHS turned him down and the Ninth Circuit said that it had no power to review — or reverse — the agency’s decision, much as it admired his courage. So he was, or will be, deported, leaving behind his citizen wife who suffers from multiple sclerosis. I would not like to be the judge who felt he had to hand down that ruling.

In retrospect, and MV’s immigration lawyer is partly to blame here for not thinking of it, DHS could have dusted off one of its more obscure immigration categories, that of the employment-based visa (EB-2) with a national interest waiver. The reasons for granting of the waiver are not described by Congress beyond the need to consider these three factors that might well be regarded as vague enough to give a green card to MV:

  • The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.
  • [The alien is] well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.
  • On balance it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus the labor certification.

On balance, it is a good thing to disrupt mass killings, and no one will give the government a hard time for rewarding such behavior. If Melania Knavs can get a green card in a roughly similar way for her good looks, why not give one to MV for his good deeds?

The breaking-up of a mass killing by citizens is a rare event, and that happening with an illegal alien is rarer still; in fact, this may be the only instance in recent history. In other words, the government would not be setting a precedent that would lead to multiple claims for legalization by this action.

On the other hand, the president could invite the good guy to the White House and hand him his green card (and maybe some medal that can be hung around his neck) while sending the message to millions of illegal aliens that this is the sort of thing that one should do if one ever finds oneself in a similar situation.

Wouldn’t that be a good idea?