New York attorney Erik Faragi of the law firm Baker Botts has won recognition for his work on a case involving the I-864 Affidavit of Support. The New York Bar Association awarded Faragi the 2015 President's Pro Bono Service Award on May 5th.
In a phone conversation, Faragi described his work on the 2012 case, which he took pro bono through a non-profit organization, Her Justice. Faragi represented an Algerian national with two children. Under a 5-year protection order from her immigration petitioner, the woman sought an award of spousal support from the N.Y. courts. As Faragi described N.Y. practice, the Support Collection Unit will assist in enforcement of a spousal support order only if there is also an order for child support. Knowing this, Faragi argued that both spousal and child support orders were appropriate because the woman was the beneficiary of a Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.
The court agreed. First the court determined 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household size of one, and awarded this amount to the mother as spousal support. The court then looked at Guidelines standard for a household size of three, and awarded the difference between this and the spousal support amount as child support. Faragi reported that the court was persuaded by authority such as Moody v Sorokina that it was appropriate to base a support order on the I-864 obligation.
Interestingly, the signed I-864 form was not entered into evidence in the case. Faragi attempted to obtain the document via a Freedom of Information Act request but was denied, likely due to the federal Privacy Act. Instead, the I-864 beneficiary offered testimony concerning the I-864. No expert was needed to establish the fact that under immigration law the I-864 would have been required to secure the beneficiary's immigration status, a strategy used elsewhere.
Photo credit: Simon Howden, freedigitalphotos.net.