Kong Xin Chen is free!

Deportation Defense of Kong Xin Chen

Kong’s arrest and the prospect that he could be deported has visibly shaken his community in Marshfield, Massachusetts, drawing the attention of the Boston Globe, the Quincy, MA Patriot Ledger and other Massachusetts newspapers. Kong’s case has earned the sympathy of state and congressional representatives and prompted his community to rally around him. His supporters have created a Free Kong Now Website, organized a fundraiser to help support his family and flooded my office with heartbreaking letters of support.

This afternoon I got off the phone with Kong’s brother and he told me the amazing news: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released Kong from jail! Very soon, he should be back in Massachusetts reunited with his family, friends and supporters, all of whom must be ecstatic at this wonderful and unexpected news.

While Kong’s immediate release is certainly something to celebrate, the legal battle to stop his deportation and to gain immigration status in the United States is far from over.

Here’s some background on what happened and why. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Kong on his own recognizance (without requiring an immigration bond) under what is known as an Order of Supervision. Kong’s release didn’t come about because of my exceptionally brilliant legal work. And it doesn’t mean that Kong got any sort of special treatment from the immigration system. Instead, he was released as part of the standard custody review protocol that ICE is required to follow for all non-criminal immigration detainees who, like Kong, are subject to final orders of removal or deportation. After returning to Massachusetts, as a condition for his release, Kong will be required to report in periodically at the ICE office in Burlington.

An Order of Supervision means that Kong is free for the time being but it doesn’t directly confer any immigration status. It’s just an alternative to detention and a temporary reprieve from a certain fate. In other words, while immigration authorities are arranging travel documents so that can be Kong forcibly deported from the United States, he will not have to remain in jail.

Even though he is free from jail, without further legal advocacy, Kong can still be deported at any moment. As part of our deportation defense strategy, the next steps, as I see it, are to request that the Department of Homeland Security exercise favorable prosecutorial discretion in several forms. First, we will ask the Office of Chief Counsel in New York, New York to consider filing a joint motion to reopen his deportation order in Immigration Court. Next, we will ask U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Boston Field Office in Burlington, Massachusetts to grant deferred action, as well as a stay of deportation.

For all of you who care about Kong and his family, for fans of Mandarin Tokyo restaurant, once the celebrating is over, I urge you to redouble your efforts. Keep doing whatever it is that you’ve been doing.

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