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PRIVATE LAWS

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Article 16-36

¡No Se Deje!

The vast majority of laws in this country are public laws.  This means that they apply equally to the entire public.  Everyone who violates the law is equally subject to the same consequences.  Everyone is entitled to use the same legal defenses and to claim the same rights and legal remedies because they are “Public Laws”.  Although each individual must still prove that he/she qualifies for the benefit of a public law, it is available to everyone.  For example, the law of negligence allows every person that proves that he/she was injured by the negligence of another is entitled to just compensation.

 

The Constitution of the United State also permits private laws to be enacted.  Although few members of the public are aware of private laws, they can be very useful to people that successfully persuade the U. S. Congress to pass a private law.  Private laws are laws that benefit only one person or small group of people in special situations or circumstances.  Imagine what it would be like if the U. S. Congress passed a law that gave you a legal right to do something that the public laws deny to you.  In fact over 7,300 private laws have been enacted since they were first authorized in 1839.

 

President Obama signed two private laws in the past few years to benefit only the individuals named in those laws.  In the first case, the law granted permanent legal immigration status to the widow of a U. S. Marine who gave birth to their son after he was killed in Iraq.  In the second case, a man in California was given permanent legal immigration status because his mother was killed in a car accident before adopting him.  In each of these cases, the named beneficiaries of these private laws did not qualify for legal immigration status under our immigration laws.

 

While private laws can be used for other special circumstance situations, immigration cases are the most common.  Anyone seeking to have a private law enacted must find a member of Congress (Senator or Congressman/Congresswoman) that will introduce the private law and sponsor it.  Then the private law must go through the same process as public laws.  It must be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by the President.

 

The introduction of a private immigration law to grant permanent legal status to a person facing deportation does not automatically stop the deportation.  However, Immigration Officials will usually suspend deportation proceedings if the Congressional sponsor requests it in writing.  The Senator or Congressional Representative that introduced the private law must produce evidence that it is necessary to avoid “Unusual or Extreme Hardship” to the beneficiary or a U. S. citizen spouse, parent, or child.

 

Recent private immigration laws have been enacted to benefit people that do not qualify under public laws through no fault of their own. Examples include errors or excessive delays by government agencies processing applications or petitions. While only exceptionally compelling cases that involve extreme hardship are approved, private laws can be successful for certain people. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.