Rubin was wrong.
Machado, now a 30-year-old carpet layer, had waded across the Rio Grande as a teenager to reunite with his mother, who left for Massachusetts to work when he was a boy. He was arrested several times in his early 20s but was never convicted of a crime. Then he fell in love and moved in with his girlfriend. Everything seemed to be going well until immigration officials arrested him in 2011 and told him that he faced deportation.
To ask an immigration judge to reconsider the 2000 deportation order, Rubin knew he faced considerable red tape. In the regular federal court system, he could have downloaded Machado’s file online or walked into a courthouse to request it. But immigration lawyers generally have to file a formal Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of their clients’ immigration files, which can take weeks or months to process.
In November 2011, Rubin sent the request for Machado’s file, stored in Virginia, believing he had time to read the documents before filing the motion to reopen Machado’s case.
“I thought I had more time, so I was going to do it one time and do it right,” Rubin said.
Then, ICE shipped Machado to Louisiana.
Tipped off by a relative about Machado’s relocation, Rubin said, he talked to an immigration officer who reassured him that Machado would be in the United States for two more weeks.
Two days later, Machado was in El Salvador. He had been dumped penniless at the airport with no one to pick him up.
The next day, Rubin said, Machado’s immigration court file arrived in the mail.
In El Salvador, Machado stayed with his wife’s relatives while Rubin tried to reopen his case. But Machado grew anxious and, like many deported immigrants, he sneaked back over the border this year. Officials caught him and sent him to Stewart.
“I did it for my family,” he said in a jailhouse interview, speaking through a telephone on the other side of a glass window.
Now, a full year after ICE deported Machado while his lawyer was preparing his appeal, Rubin will finally get his chance to argue that Machado should be allowed to stay here. Machado has a hearing in Boston immigration court on Tuesday.
Maria Sacchetti can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti. Milton Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia.