Halloween Special: Benefits for Living Aliens Based on Ghostly Relatives

By David North on October 31, 2016

Just in time for Halloween, the Department of Homeland Security has reminded us that it grants legal immigration status to some aliens based on the ghostly hardships of the aliens' relatives — even though those hardships have been obliterated by death.

This is meant to be a footnote to an earlier posting by my colleague Dan Cadman on the broader subject of how DHS has stretched the concept of "extreme hardship" to the extreme in order to make it easier for the government to grant legal status to aliens using claims that should they be deported, that would cause an "extreme hardship" to someone else.

Let's create an example. The otherwise deportable alien lived with, took care of, and provided financial support for his aging mother. No one else lived there. These are indisputable facts. He (or his lawyer) then argues that his deportation would cause an "extreme hardship" to the old lady.

As long as she is living, he would, at least, have a sensible argument. But supposing she died? Would not that, in the real world, destroy the argument?

Of course it would.

But DHS does not live in a real world. It lives in a world where hardships imposed on ghosts, in this case on the late mother, are both palpable and persisting and thus are good excuses for granting legal status to the son in this case.

This is the tortured explanation of what I call the "ghosts count" rule in the recently proclaimed DHS policy memorandum:


Under this provision a foreign national who establishes that the requirements of INA 204(1) have been met may apply for a waiver even though the qualifying relative for purposes of extreme hardship has died. Moreover, in cases in which the deceased individual is both the qualifying relative for purposes of INA 204(l) and the qualifying relative for purposes of the extreme hardship determination, the death of the qualifying relative is treated as the functional equivalent of a finding of extreme hardship. (Emphasis added.)


To our government, it is a spooky world out there.