Litigation handled by Mr. Mirza includes a recent published decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals in Matter of Rose, 25 I & N Dec. 181 (BIA 2010), which held in an issue of first impression that when the spouse of a conditional resident dies during the conditional residence period, the surviving spouse does not need a separate hardship waiver in order to have the conditions on their permanent residence removed. A landmark case with potentially catastrophic immigration consequences for the surviving spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, the Board of Immigration Appeals’ ruling effectively put widows and widowers on the same legal footing as those whose spouses survive this conditional residence period and file their petitions together.
Mr. Mirza also successfully litigated Walji v. Gonzales, 500 F.3d 432 (5th Cir. 2007) a pivotal and closely watched case affecting many thousands of naturalization cases around the country that had been languishing in multi-year “name check” delays. Following Mr. Mirza’s request for a rehearing en banc at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of the Court ruled that if USCIS fails to adjudicate a naturalization application within 120 days of the interview, an immigrant can seek redress in the federal courts. This landmark decision was later cited as supporting/persuasive authority by nearly every naturalization-delay litigation matter in the country, and continues to be utilized by those whose citizenship cases are delayed beyond the 120-day period. The Walji case is widely considered to have been instrumental in reducing and later eliminating most of these “name-check” delays. As a result, Mr. Mirza was awarded the Chapter Litigation Award for outstanding contribution to the area of U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law by the Texas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Mr. Mirza also successfully litigated Maknojiya v. Gonzales, 432 F.3d 588 (5th Cir. 2005), a case which challenged the legality of the often insurmountable hurdle faced by immigrants who were trying to reopen their cases because they did not receive proper notice of their deportation hearings. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this higher burden should not apply where notice of the deportation hearing was sent by regular mail rather than certified mail. The Maknojiya case has since been cited with approval by several other Circuit Courts of Appeal, and as a result, this litigation has effectively made it easier for immigrants around the country to reopen their deportation cases if they did not receive proper notice of their hearings.
Other litigation handled by Mr. Mirza includes Sabino v. Reno, 8 F.Supp.2d 622 (S.D. Tex. 1998) which upheld the continuing availability of habeas corpus relief for immigrants despite repeated Congressional attempts in the 1990’s to dramatically limit judicial review and oversight of deportation orders.
Mr. Mirza also successfully litigated Matter of E & C Precision Fabricating, 89-INA-249 (BALCA 1990) aff’d, rehearing en banc (1991), which overturned the improper denial of an immigrant labor certification.
Mr. Mirza is also an Adjunct Professor of law, teaching Crime and Immigration at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. This course is designed to teach law students the immigration consequences of crimes, the tools to craft effective defenses, and the opportunity to analyze new trends as new statutes take effect and are interpreted. This lessons of this course have taken on a new urgency in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. (March 31, 2010), a recent holding that addresses the constitutional responsibility of criminal defense attorneys to properly advise their clients of the immigration consequences of their guilty pleas.
Mr. Mirza served on the State Bar of Texas Ethics/Disciplinary Committee from 1994 until 1999, and served as a Panel Chairman from 1998 until 1999.
Mr. Mirza has previously served as the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) co-liaison for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Texas Chapter from 1995-1996.
Mr. Mirza has also previously served on the Board of Directors for the Asian-American Bar Association and the Houston Bar Association’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program.
In addition to being awarded the Chapter Litigation Award for outstanding contribution to the area of U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law for successfully litigating Walji v. Gonzales by the Texas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Mr. Mirza has also been selected multiple times for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, and HTexas’ Top Lawyers in recognition of his excellence in the practice of immigration law.
“A Bridge Too Far: The Assault on Habeas Corpus in Immigration Law” – American Immigration Lawyers Association-Texas Fall Conference Handbook, 1998