U.S. Consulates ‘Abusing their Discretion’ to Stop Legal Immigration, Lawyers Say

For one South Florida man, half a million dollars couldn’t cut it.

In order for the U.S. citizen to bring his parents from overseas on immigrant visas, the Department of State wanted proof that he had at least four times the required amount. In his case, federal law says the man only needed to show $220,000 in assets, but the U.S. demanded proof of $1 million.

“I feel like I’m in an Austin Powers movie,” the man’s attorney, Tammy Fox-Isicoff, told the Miami Herald. “The embassy wants proof of $1 million in assets to immigrate to the U.S., totally disregarding the law. Tell me this administration isn’t trying to stop even legal immigration.”

There’s no math to determine how the amount of $1 million was calculated by federal officials. Lawyers say the million-dollar benchmark was “simply pulled from thin air” and is a “blatant abuse of discretion” by U.S. consulate offices.

Attorneys say the narrative of consulars taking action out of their own judgment— rather than federal guidelines— is becoming more common at U.S. embassies around the world.

“My client clearly meets the requisites. This decision is arbitrary and capricious and shows how consulates are abusing their discretion which isn’t reviewable in court,” Fox-Isicoff said.

There is currently no appeals process for visa refusals. The only avenue for review that immigration attorneys have if they have “legal questions” about a consular’s decision is LegalNet — an office within the Department of State.

LegalNet does not review any case findings, and according to United States Supreme Court case Kerry v. Din, the decisions of U.S. embassies cannot be challenged in court.

The Miami Herald obtained redacted copies of Fox-Isicoff’s client’s case. The petitioner’s name is being withheld from this report due to privacy concerns.

Fox-Isicoff’s client, a Hollywood man in his 30s, is married and has two children. The man, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Florida, applied to bring his parents, who work as engineers in Uzbekistan, to the United States to help support him and his wife with the rearing of their two young children.

By Monique Madan for MIAMI HERALD
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