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Immigration Lawyer Was in U.S. Illegally

If experience is the best teacher, then Denver immigration lawyer Ravi Kanwal certainly knew his stuff when it came to representing illegal aliens. You see, Kanwal was himself in the United States unlawfully. Problem is, he never told anyone about his status. Not his clients. Not the immigration judges he appeared before. Not the federal immigration authorities he worked with.

Somehow, Kanwal's unlawful status came to the attention of immigration authorities. On July 8, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, suspended Kanwal from practice before immigration tribunals. A press release announcing the suspension said:

A final order of July 8, 2009, suspends him from practice before immigration tribunals for two years, based on an adjudicating official’s findings that he engaged in unethical and unprofessional conduct, worked without authorization as an attorney in Colorado, failed to comply with the conditions of his non-immigrant visitor visa for business, remained in the United States illegally since 1995, and is currently in removal proceedings.

That was not the end of Kanwal's troubles. His case also made its way to Colorado's lawyer disciplinary authority. On July 21, the state's presiding disciplinary judge suspended Kanwal from the practice of law in Colorado for one year and one day, effective Aug. 5. The order explained the reason for the suspension:

Respondent represented clients in immigration matters despite the fact that he had not been in this country lawfully since December 30, 1995. Respondent failed to disclose his legal status and failed to disclose to his clients, the immigration courts, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and its predecessor agency that he did not have authorization for employment in the United States. Respondent’s misconduct constituted grounds for the imposition of discipline pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.5 and violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c) and 8.4(d).

The EOIR press release suggests that Kanwal originally came to the United States under a non-immigrant visitor visa. That appears to be a temporary visa issued to persons who maintain their permanent residence outside the U.S. According to his Web site, Kanwal graduated from Tulane Law School in 1990 and from the Government Law College of Bombay University in 1985. His site lists him as admitted to practice law in Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and Louisiana.

Hat tip to Legal Profession Blog, which gave its post about Kanwal the apt one-word title, Chutzpah.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 1, 2009 at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)


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