Intro Speaker: It’s time for Kelly Can Help hosted by Jeff Kelly, Attorney at Law with the law office of Jeffrey B. Kelly. And now here’s Jeff Kelly.
Jeff Kelly: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me on the radio show today I got a special guest, Andres Mejer. He is an immigration attorney from New Jersey. I’ve known him for years. One of the great things about immigration is you can hire him if you’d like. So I’m gonna let Andres tell us a little bit about his practice. And super great guy. Go ahead, undress.
Andres Mejer: Thank you, Jeff, thank you for having us on on the show. I really appreciate the opportunity. And yes, immigration is federal, we now have clients in 15 different states. So I’m headquartered in New Jersey. But as I was telling you, before we come on the show, out of the three clients that hired me today, not a single one was in New Jersey. You know, our practice has really changed dramatically because of COVID.
Andres Mejer: But a little little Look, I don’t usually talk about myself, but a little bit about my backstory. I was born in Santiago, Chile, I know you and I have talked about that a number of times you’d love to your time in
Jeff Kelly: cheap labor country.
Andres Mejer: It’s a great place to be. So I was born in Chile, my mother was from Chile and my father’s from Argentina. But they met and married in Israel. So I lived twice and cheela, twice in Israel, twice in the US. I came to this country, not speaking English. And then I moved to Israel as an adult, not speaking Hebrew. And then I left my family there and came back to keep to get to keep my green card in state. So any part of an immigrant journey short of being in jail? That one has had, I’ve done it at least once.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent. That is awesome. How many years have you been in practice?
Andres Mejer: So I’ve been in practice now. 16 years, I’ve been working in the law for 20 years when I was when I was in law school. I was working full time at a law firm. I was trying to figure out what what kind of law did I want to be and your laugh, but I thought I was going to be in real estate.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
Andres Mejer: real estate development is what interested me. And I thought I was going to be transactional. And like I’m not I’m not going to go to court. I’m like, fight for people. What No, that’s, that’s crazy. But the first law firm job I had, because I’m a fluent Spanish speaker, I was working with Spanish clients doing things that a law clerk normally does, because no one else could speak to them. And they were getting screwed. And the more I saw how they were being treated, just because they didn’t speak the language, and they didn’t understand their rights. The more I got involved with the immigrant community, and what their needs were, and I’ve done it all, whether it’s wills, a personal injury litigation, criminal litigation, I actually built my immigration practice on defending DUI clients. I went to court the first time for a traffic violation. My movers were bringing in my obviously my office furniture to my new office, I just opened up shop. And one of them had a girlfriend that had a traffic violation didn’t speak English. I’m like, How hard can it be? I mean, I’d never been in traffic court. So I pulled out the rule book, I looked at the statutes. I knew what I was doing. Because I spent two days preparing, I show up to court. There’s individual there doesn’t speak a word of English. There was no translator judges getting frustrated. I said, Your Your Honor, I’m happy to translate. I walked out of that courtroom with three clients. And every single time that judge saw me, he said, you know, so about 10 back in 2012. I don’t know if your listeners remember, there was miners that were trapped and cheated. Yeah. So the judge would see me and say we have a very own a Chilean citizen attorney here, and he would talk about me for 10 minutes. And I would walk out with more clients to do he was awesome.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah. How about that? Yeah, there’s a great movie on that, by the way,
Andres Mejer: there is 100%. And he would always say and listen. They were successful because of the Pennsylvania miners from the US that went and helped them. So he would tell that story every time. And it was it was very interesting. But as I got busier there, my clients were asking me Well, what how does this affect me on immigration?
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
Andres Mejer: so we started going into immigration consequences. And then it was well, rather than just the consequences, how about helping you avoid those things in the outset and today, although as a firm, we still do criminal defense 75% of what we do is immigration, the criminal defense is actually by a partner of mine, I don’t do it anymore, I get to focus on what I love, which is helping people come to us legally, if they’re, if they’re not here legally, to stay legally if they can. And for me, it’s the most rewarding thing I could do. When you give someone a green card, their life changes, they can get instead of having three jobs, they can have one, they can spend more time with their family, they can travel to maybe see their parents that they haven’t seen for 30 years, or 15 years or for a long period of time, maybe introduce their kids to their grandparents, who they’ve not been able to see before. You know, helping somebody defeat beat a DUI does not change their life, helping them get justice and economic results from a from an accident or an injury to it could be life changing, but for the most part it isn’t. But getting somebody helped to stay in the United States legally, to get their their their citizenship so that they can vote that changes their life.
Jeff Kelly: Wow. Good stuff. So where’d you go to law school? Where did you do your undergrad?
Andres Mejer: So I did I did my undergrad? Well, I did a I started at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Then I studied at Tel Aviv University. Then I then I came back and finished in Rutgers. And I went to law school in Brooklyn law school because I wanted to be a New York Attorney. I turned down Tulane, I turned down a full ride from Tulane. Because I was just convinced I had to be a New York City Attorney. And within a year of graduation, I was gone. I could not wait to leave New York.
Jeff Kelly: How about that?
Andres Mejer: I’m sorry, those new New Yorkers, if you love it, that’s great. It’s a great place to visit. There’s a lot of great things. But I missed my suburbia. I just did not like it.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah, I understand. I went to college in New York City, so I know.
Andres Mejer: Oh, where’d you go? I know you told me But
Jeff Kelly: yeah, I went to Columbia. Law.
Andres Mejer: My wife went there. She got she got her master’s from Columbia.
Jeff Kelly: Wonderful, wonderful.
Andres Mejer: My life partner and business partner is my wife. We met in law school. And she’s she’s we have two beautiful kids. And she still tells people the biggest mistake she ever did was go to law school.
Jeff Kelly: That’s funny.
Andres Mejer: So funny, but that’s how we met. She’s like, I know. So we work together at you know, at home, and then we raised you know, two wonderful kids that when we’re not at work,
Jeff Kelly: that’s awesome that it did you tell me once she’s from South Carolina, is that right?
Andres Mejer: She is. She was born in Scranton, in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and then moved to South Carolina when she was eight.
Jeff Kelly: How about that? How about that? So when did you know you wanted to be an attorney?
Andres Mejer: I always knew I always wanted to help people. And, you know, Night Court when I was a kid, really, I found fascinating. I don’t know why. And then later, I actually went to Night Court. And it was terrible, because I didn’t want to be there at six and seven, eight o’clock, and also then have to go to court in the morning at 7am. So I didn’t like Night Court so much. But growing up, it was either law school, or business school.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: And when I started Rutgers, I was in a five year program, which was a joint Master’s in business and an undergraduate in business. But then, when my parents split up, and my father moved to Israel, it’s a happy ending. We moved back to Israel, my parents are are still happily while they’re still married today, happily is a different matter. But they’re still together. You know, so I left that program. I left a full scholarship so that my family could be together.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: And when I came back, see, I was only a green card holder. So I had to come back every 11 months of 29 days, or risk losing my status and I grew up here. I didn’t want to, you know, kill me when I was six. I was then 21-22. I did not want to lose. I didn’t know whether I’d be in Israel forever or not. But I certainly didn’t want to lose the opportunity to come back to the US.
Jeff Kelly: Sure, sure.
Andres Mejer: And when I came back after two years as this was now my second trip I decided to stay because the schools that the program As I got into Israel is a very different, it’s more of a European model, you apply to a department, not to a school. And they made me redo certain examinations in Hebrew, which I didn’t speak at the time. So I had to learn. You know, they made me they wanted me to start from scratch, I would have had two years for an associate three years of military service. Two more years for my undergraduate. So that’s seven years total.
Jeff Kelly: Wow.
Andres Mejer: And when I came back to the States, and I was explaining this to my mom’s friend, so he’s Israeli she is she had a friend at the Evans she’s like, wait a minute, doesn’t make any sense. Didn’t you ever think that you could just finish your two years here, you can get permission from the military to do that. It didn’t occur to me. when when when she put me in touch with the her friend who was at the Israeli embassy, I went, I had a conversation with them. They gave me permission to come back to school. And I did, and I came here literally $300 and a duffel bag for the clothes. And I said, it’s crazy to go back and spend seven years when I could be here for two.
Jeff Kelly: Sure. Sure.
Andres Mejer: So I came here. I went for two, I called my parents and I said, I’m gonna be here for a little bit longer. Mom, dad is sure how much longer I said a couple of years. All you heard was silence. They were like, are you on drugs? What’s wrong with you? But yeah,
Jeff Kelly: so you speak English, Spanish and Hebrew?
Andres Mejer: That’s correct.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent. That’s awesome. So you mentioned that, you know, 75% of your your clients are related to immigration practice.
Andres Mejer: Yeah.
Jeff Kelly: What What is the typical situation that your immigration client is in? How Why do they need your services? How do you mean,
Andres Mejer: I’m glad that you asked. Now that we’re, again, nationwide, and we have clients in over 15 states, we are seeing a variety of different types of cases from a variety of different communities. So historically, the majority of our clients were Spanish speaking. Now, we have a lot of Caribbean clients, Cubans. Eastern Europe, it not so much agents, although there is a community there. And we have a couple of clients, but the majority are really the change has been Caribbean. And so that’s where they’re from, obviously, they’re here and they want to stay here. And they come from different experiences, but we put them through the same process. I call it the 953 process. So I wrote a book, do you qualify for us legal status, the second edition is about to come out now. And in it, we talk about the nine principle paths to legal status. So every console has three fundamental questions. So Jeff, do you one have a path for legal status? If you do, and there are nine principle ones? If you do, is there anything in your past as question number two, that might disqualify you? It could be criminal conduct. It could be multiple entries. It could be prior allegations of fraud, whatever, there are five different major categories that could disqualify you from achieving legal status. So question one is, do you have a path if you don’t stop there? If you do have a path? Well, let’s look at your past anything that might disqualify you or prevent you from achieving your goal? And if you have one of those five, then it’s question number three, can we fix it? So it might be a waiver, it might be an order of removal, we have to reopen, it might be a criminal conviction that we have to overturn or challenge. And often now, we’re partnering with criminal defense attorneys in other states.
Andres Mejer: So earlier today, I was speaking to a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota, he’s representing a client of mine for a DUI, my client wants to get citizenship. And this attorney looks like he wanted to plead guilty. And I had to explain to him, Well, yeah, you could do that. But he might be placed in removal proceedings, because it’s not his first criminal conviction. And his he wants to become a US citizen. If he’s convicted, that’s not happening. So instead, they’re not going to trial. Because the the the assessment was, well, if you’re going to go to trial, are you better off in front of a criminal judge? Or are you better off for another immigration judge? Well, there are more rights and options. Today, in a criminal setting, then there is in an immigration setting. I as an immigration attorney have a lot less control, I’m stuck with the conviction. But if I don’t like if I’m a criminal defense attorney, and I don’t like the conviction, maybe I can appeal it. Maybe there are mistakes that can be found. But if I just go and plead guilty, my ability to change that outcome is very limited. So in the initial consultation we call a green card planning session. There are nine principal ways to achieve a green card and we look at the equality What are those nine? And if so, is it something that disqualifies you? And if so, can we fix it? If you have nothing that disqualifies you, fantastic, then we focus on achieving your goals.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent. Excellent. Now, you’ve mentioned here, you’ve got a national practice, you speak three different languages. You’ve been down every friggin path that anybody on the immigration process could go, you’ve you’ve been down that path.
Andres Mejer: It’s true.
Jeff Kelly: Anything else? Do you think that that separates you from other immigration attorneys? What’s your greatest strength?
Andres Mejer: So we believe that an informed client is the best client. We’ve I’ve given at least 100 immigration seminars, where I go to churches, nonprofits, organizations, pretty much everyone that will have me, and I will go and speak to their audience. And it’s usually a version of the Do you qualify? So I speak about the nine different paths. And then I answer questions. We have a YouTube channel with a strong support, where we talk, we have a live show every single week, where we talk about what’s going on in immigration. I had a radio show for three years, under, you know, Hispanic Christian radio. But so two years into it, we added, we started streaming it live on Facebook. And we realize that our audience and our comments, and our most loyal followers, were all on Facebook, not so much on that radio station, that again, at that time, we were New Jersey specific, and most of their audience were outside of New Jersey. Now today, given where we are, maybe it makes sense to go back to that radio station. But we moved on to a Facebook Live, which we’ve now been doing for over two years. And those videos then get presented on YouTube.
Jeff Kelly: Wow.
Andres Mejer: So we have books that we’ve written, I’ve written three, the Do you qualify for US immigration legal status that I that I spoke about? How to defend your DUI case. And the how to defend a criminal case in New Jersey. But again, all of those are in English and Spanish, and they’re from the perspective of if you’re in if you’re an immigrant, well, a conviction to something sort of give a perfect example, shoplifting. Let’s say I go to Walmart, and I accidentally take something that’s $5, maybe not excellent. Maybe I did it intentionally. And I’m caught. So you know, in New Jersey, that’s a non indictable offense, otherwise known as a misdemeanor, you go you pay a small fine, it goes away. But that’s a crime of moral turpitude. And for immigration purposes, that has a much an outsized effect, that you wouldn’t think if you’re new to the country, you’re accused of a crime and someone tells you you pay 100 bucks, you don’t go to jail, it all goes away, you’ll pay the $100. And client after client has done that. And we’ve then gone and reopened it. 510 15 years later, now more than five years, it’s difficult to do anywhere. We’ve done it on occasion.
Andres Mejer: You know, I can’t remember the question you asked me, I’m sorry.
Jeff Kelly: Oh, you’re fine. I was asked you what is your greatest strengths?
Andres Mejer: It’s, we, we believe in educating the client. That’s why we wrote the book. That’s why we have the weekly live show. That’s why I take the time. I mean, I can’t tell how many clients have told me it’s, you know, I spoke to three other attorneys before. They usually tell me they can’t help me, or they don’t have time for me. I’m done. After 10 minutes. No one ever sits there and explains to me what I qualify for why I do or don’t qualify, what can disqualify me and how to fix it. That 123 step is simple but powerful. And no one does it. Yeah. To me, it’s, it’s how I would want to be treated. I can’t imagine doing anything different. Don’t let others know. Please. Don’t Don’t let out the secret.
Jeff Kelly: So your What if my clients want your books? How much do they cost? Where are they going?
Andres Mejer: So they can they can find it on Amazon and 2995. They can find it out our website. It’s Andres Mejer law. I don’t know if you can read it. But it’s my first name, last name and law. We’ll share all the information and anybody that wants it. I’m happy to send it at no cost.
Jeff Kelly: Wow.
Andres Mejer: You go to my website, you can request it, you contact me. You call us you want our book, you just say hey, I saw you at Jeff Jeff Kelly’s program. I will send it to you at no cost.
Jeff Kelly: Okay. Now, you know you just mentioned that. You don’t want to have somebody plead guilty to some small Ridiculous crime mess up their their immigration status. Are there any other pitfalls? I mean, do you ever have any other times where you a client come in comes in to meet with you and you say to them? Gosh, I really wish you had not done fill in the blank before you came in.
Andres Mejer: I’m gonna tell you a story. Client married to a US citizen has two US citizen children been in the US for 20 years. wife can file for him. Does it without an attorney goes to goes to the interview. The marriage is legitimate. There’s no sham. officer says, you know, I’m inclined to approve your case. I believe this is legitimate marriage. You entered here legally. You have two kids. I just have one question for you. Oh, what is it officer? It seems here that you were arrested in 2004. for possessing documents. And the charges were dismissed, correct? Yes, they were. Can you tell me what happened? Oh, sure. And my, this is not my client, but is the person that came to ask us for advice, says, well, when in 2004. I bought documents from a Puerto Rican man. And I use those documents. I said I was Jeff Kelly. Because Jeff Kelly’s Puerto Rican, right. So I he, he went to the DMV, he submitted documents saying he was Jeff Kelly in order to register a vehicle and to get a driver’s license. I was arrested and the charges were ultimately dismissed. Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate your honesty. Can you just write Can you just write that down? So the typed up an affidavit is true? Yes. He signed it. He said, Thank you very much. I appreciate your honesty. Now I’m going to put you into removal proceedings. And I’m sorry to say I’m going to deny your case and you’re going to be deported. he just made a he admitted to a false claim to US citizenship.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: All he had to say was and if he had an attorney there, this is what would have happened. Officer the charges were dismissed. Yeah. But I’d like to know off. So the charges were dismissed. Period, end of story. My client is not going to talk about it. He’s not going to make any he admitted he admitted made factual admissions that would have allowed a judge to say you’re guilty because of that. Immigration can say, well, it says if you were guilty, so the fact that was dismissed is irrelevant, because you admitted to doing the crime.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: And I’ve seen different versions of that. But none more egregious as that was, you know, a simple consultation would have solved that.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: Again, for every one of our clients, we have the 953 process. We do full background search, FBI motor vehicle, well, it motor vehicle systems a little harder depending on what state you’re in. But we do a motor vehicle search, and we order your your documents from immigration. So before you have that interview, we don’t have any surprises. So sometimes there’s someone entered the country was apprehended at the border, maybe let’s say he was from Guatemala. And he said he’s Mexican. So he could be sent back to Mexico to try again. Because if you send back to Guatemala, it’s via plane. And it’s maybe weeks until he gets back there. And it’s much more expensive.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: So he was apprehended at the border, he was sent back, then he came in, and he wasn’t apprehended. And now he has a legitimate path to legal status. But he committed fraud. He lied about it. And now in some circumstances, it can be waived, we can fix it. But you got to be honest about it, you got to come clean. So if you don’t talk about it, and you don’t file for a waiver, and you assume immigration is not going to know it, because well, I gave a different name. They have fingerprints. And so your attorney does it know what happened to you. But immigration does, because you were fingerprinted. And they’re gonna have all that information, and your attorney is not going to be prepared to help you. So when when a client is not honest with their attorney, look, sometimes it is 20 years ago, sometimes people forget, yes, I was apprehended but I didn’t remember that I gave a wrong name. Or I was a kid, I was under age. Well, if you’re under age, there’s no consequences. But if you lie in an application today, Well, today you’re an adult, and that’s fraud unless they think it was an innocent misrepresentation. But again, but the more of these we have to explain, the harder the case becomes.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
Andres Mejer: not that we can’t do it, but you’re putting the barrier higher and higher.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah, got it.
Andres Mejer: So be honest with your attorney, because everything you tell them is confidential.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: And if they don’t know, they can’t help you prepare now and not admitting things. So going, particularly now, in the past four years, anybody that goes to an interview with a US immigration officer, and does not have an attorney is asking for trouble.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
Andres Mejer: I’ve had officers pulled me aside and tell me, please tell your clients do not come alone. They are looking for any procedural or substantive reason to deny the laws. So this is a misunderstanding. People think, oh, Trump has changed the laws? No, he has changed a procedure. considerably, he has not been able to change the laws, because well, neither, even though he had control it the part, you know, to change the law, you need a bill to be approved by the House of Representatives by the Senate and signed by the President. And for whatever reason, he has not been able to do that. But he did change. So laws create laws are enacted, and then are enforced by agencies like US CIS, and Customs and Border Patrol, and ice. And DHS, those rules have changed dramatically. But the biggest change is the mindset.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
Andres Mejer: USCIS that’s United States citizen Immigration Services has gone from How can I help you achieve your goal? Assuming you qualify? To How can I deny you your goal, by any means possible? So the mentality has changed?
Jeff Kelly: Wow. Do you do you think that’s gonna change? Now we’ve got, you know, a new administration coming in in January?
Andres Mejer: I do think it will, but it’s gonna take time.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: Trump didn’t do it overnight, Biden won’t be able to either. Now, look, if Congress comes together. If Democrats and Republicans actually start to solve our problems, the way you know, in a democracy should happen. If they start solving problems, and there is in there is some kind of reform? Yeah, a lot of these things can be addressed. If it’s going to be done from the agency alone? Well, they have to, they have to submit a proposed rules, there has to be a common period, then they have to submit the final rules, and then there’s an implementation date. So even if you know exactly what you’re going to do on January 20, you’re talking six months or longer until you go through that process.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
Andres Mejer: So it’s good there. So Trump has President Trump has changed over 400 regulations that affect immigration.
Jeff Kelly: Wow,
Andres Mejer: by all agencies, it really was a concerted effort to change the rules. That does not change overnight.
Jeff Kelly: Wow. Well, I want to give a my quick testimony for Andres, and I want to thank you for coming on to the show. But I’ve done
Andres Mejer: my pleasure
Jeff Kelly: years. And I can tell all my clients Look, if you want somebody who is razor sharp, Razor smart, and has a fantastic organization that’s got systems, good systems, and to get you a good result. This is the guy you need to hire or if you know anybody who needs immigration, help with their green card or anything related to immigration. You need to go to what’s what’s website again.
Andres Mejer: So it’s AndresMejerlaw.com A-N-D-R-E-S-M-E-J-E-R-L-A-W.COM, we’ll send you the information so you can put it on the show notes.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent.
Andres Mejer: If you’re willing.
Jeff Kelly: Absolutely. Absolutely. I am. Alright, Andres, thank you so much
Andres Mejer: as KellyCanHelp.
Jeff Kelly: That’s right. Have a good one.
Andres Mejer: Thank you very much for your time.
Outro Speaker: You’ve been listening to KellyCanHelp with Jeff Kelly reached out to the law office of Jeffrey B. Kelly today by phone 7062950030 in Rome or visit Kellycanhelp.com