Dree K. Collopy
Dree K. Collopy is a partner of Benach Ragland LLP. As an experienced advocate, she provides zealous and ethical representation to individuals before the U.S. Immigration Courts, U.S. District Courts, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. consulates abroad. Dree devotes her practice to defending and representing individuals in removal proceedings, asylum matters, federal court litigation, VAWA and U visa petitions, waivers of inadmissibility, family and employment-based visa petitions, and complex adjustment of status and naturalization applications. She develops thorough and creative legal strategies, provides impeccable and compassionate client service, and is steadfast in fighting for her clients' rights. Dree's genuine passion and dedication to her work stems from her deep respect and appreciation for those who dare to dream the American dream.
A recognized immigration law expert, Dree has authored several articles and frequently lectures on cutting edge immigration issues. She is deeply committed to the pro bono representation of indigent clients and securing their access to counsel, serving on the Pro Bono Committees of the AILA-DC Chapter and the American Bar Association's Immigration Litigation Committee, providing pro bono consultations for immigrants' rights organizations, and screening cases for the BIA Pro Bono Project. As Chair of the AILA National Asylum and Refugee Liaison Committee, Dree builds relationships and works cooperatively with government officials to maintain the integrity of our immigration system, ensure that our laws are implemented with accuracy and fairness, and secure justice and equality for non-citizens.
Dree joined Benach Ragland from the litigation practice of Maggio + Kattar, where she was a Senior Attorney. She earned her J.D. and Certificate in Law of Public Policy at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish at Grinnell College. Dree is fluent in Spanish.
- American Immigration Lawyers Association
- Chair, AILA National Asylum and Refugee Liaison Committee, 2012 - present
- Member, AILA National Annual Conference Committee, 2013 - present
- Fourth Circuit Representative, AILA Federal Court Litigation Section, 2012 - present
- Member, AILA National Board of Publications Committee, 2011 - 2012
- Member, AILA National Distance Learning Committee, 2012 - 2013
- Co-Chair, AILA-DC Chapter Pro Bono Committee, 2009 - 2013
- American Bar Association
- Section of Litigation, Co-Chair, Immigration Litigation Subcommittee, 2011 - 2013
- Adjunct Professor, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
- Immigration Litigation Clinic
- National Lawyers Guild, National Immigration Project
- Bar of the District of Columbia
- Maryland State Bar Association
- District of Columbia
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
- The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, J.D. and Certificate in Law and Public Policy, 2007
- Dulin-Haynes Fellowship awarded for exceptional public service and academic excellence
- Note and Comment Editor, Catholic University Law Review
- President, Students for Public Interest Law
- Student Coordinator, Law and Public Policy Program
- Grinnell College, B.A. in Political Science and Spanish, 2004
- Benach Ragland LLP
- Partner, 2012 - present
- Maggio + Kattar, PC
- Senior Attorney, Attorney and Law Clerk, 2006 - 2012
- Ayuda, inc.
- Summer 2006
- U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Headquarters Immigration Court
- 2005 - 2006
- U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation
- Summer 2005
- The Honorable Tom Harkin, United States Senate
- Summer 2005
Civic and Charitable Activities:
- Board of Immigration Appeals Pro Bono Project
- Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition
- Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition
- Doorways for Women and Families, Arlington, VA
Honors and Awards:
- Awarded AILA President's Commendation for outstanding service, 2012 - 2013
- Named one of Washington's top immigration lawyers by the Washingtonian magazine, Super Lawyers - Rising Stars, 2013
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:
- Crespo v. Holder, 631 F.3d 130 (4th Cir. 2011) - After briefing and oral argument before the Fourth Circuit, the Court held that a deferred adjudication under Virginia Code section 18.2-251 in which a plea of not guilty is entered with a judicial finding of facts “justifying a finding of guilt” is not a conviction for immigration purposes. The Court remanded the case to allow the client to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and adjustment of status based on the approved I-130 petition filed on his behalf by his U.S. citizen spouse.
U.S. District Courts:
- Necochea v. Caterisano, et al, No. BEL-09-0400 (D. Md. Feb. 19, 2009) – 1447(b) petition for hearing on naturalization application challenging USCIS’s lengthy delay in adjudicating the Peruvian client’s application for U.S. citizenship. The case was successfully resolved for the client, a prominent doctor with Johns Hopkins University, when USCIS granted his long-delayed U.S. citizenship.
- Children’s Physician Services of South Texas v. Poulos, et al., No. CV09 – 9246 JFW (RCx) (C.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2009) – Complaint for writ of mandamus and declaratory relief challenging USCIS’s unreasonable delay in adjudicating the H-1B petition filed by a non-profit children’s hospital on behalf of a Jordanian doctor who was providing essential medical care to children residing in an underserved area of Texas. The case was successfully resolved for the client when USCIS granted its long-delayed H-1B petition.
- Yanow v. Arellano, et al., 2:08-cv-08104-RGK-PJW (C.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2008) - 1447(b) petition for hearing on naturalization application challenging USCIS’s lengthy delay in adjudicating the Canadian client’s application for U.S. citizenship. The case was successfully resolved for the client when the District Court remanded the case to USCIS to re-interview the client, ordering USCIS to issue a decision within 90 days. After re-interview and submission of additional legal arguments to USCIS, the client was granted his long-delayed U.S. citizenship.
- Poliakova v. Gonzales, et al., No. 08-cv-20143 (S.D. Fla. May 5, 2008), appeal filed, No. 08-13313 (11th Cir.) (with Thomas Ragland) – Mandamus action challenging USCIS’s unreasonable delay in adjudicating the Russian client’s I-485 application to adjust status to permanent residence. The case was successfully resolved for the client while it was pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit when USCIS granted the client’s long-delayed I-485 application and issued her green card.
Board of Immigration Appeals and U.S. Immigration Courts:
- Obtained asylum for a woman from Zimbabwe based on her well-founded fear of persecution on account of her political opinion. Successfully argued that she fell within the exceptions to the one year filing deadline even though she had been in the U.S. for over 20 years.
- Secured waiver of inadmissibility for fraud and permanent resident status for a Cambodian woman based on the extreme hardship that her U.S. citizen husband would suffer and dangers the couple would face in Cambodia if she were deported.
- Convinced the Board of Immigration Appeals that the marriage between a woman from Sierra Leone and her U.S. citizen husband was bona fide and not fraudulent, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had alleged, and secured permanent resident status for her and her daughter.
- Prevented the deportation of an Indian couple by obtaining cancellation of removal based on the exceptional and extremely unusual hardship that their United States citizen children would suffer upon the couple's deportation.
- Filed successful Motion to Reopen based on ineffective assistance of prior counsel, which resulted in the reopening of an Ethiopian man’s asylum application, a de novo hearing before the Immigration Court, and grant of asylum and protection from the persecution and torture he had faced in Ethiopia due to the political opinions imputed to him by the Ethiopian government.
- Successfully argued on appeal at the Board of Immigration Appeals that the Immigration Judge erred in excluding the bulk of a Togolese client’s evidence of political persecution in Togo and making an adverse credibility determination based on one date discrepancy. The case was remanded to the Immigration Court.
- Successfully argued that despite a Filipino man’s entry on a C-1 visa, he was not a crewman as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and therefore, was eligible to adjust status based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen. The Immigration Court granted him permanent residence.
- Obtained a Brazilian woman’s release from detention, represented her at her Credible Fear Interview, and ultimately obtained asylum and permanent residence for her based on the violent abuse she suffered at the hands of her partner in Brazil on account of her sexual orientation.
- Convinced Immigration Judge to order a Salvadoran client’s release from immigration detention on bond so that he could apply for asylum before the Immigration Court based on the gang violence he faced and feared returning to in El Salvador.
- Obtained permanent resident status in Immigration Court for a Pakistani journalist based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen, after he had been detained and placed in removal proceedings for overstaying his visa.
- Convinced the Immigration Court to administratively close the removal proceedings of a Cambodian woman whose lawful permanent resident husband was petitioning on her behalf for permanent resident status.
- Obtained permanent resident status in Immigration Court for a Salvadoran man based on his employment-based petition and adjustment of status application under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- Obtained withholding of removal for a Pakistani woman who had been targeted and abused by her husband as his family in the United States because of her religious conversion to Christianity.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
- Obtained asylum for an Iranian artist whose values and belief in women’s rights, which she openly expressed through her artwork, were considered contrary to the Iranian government’s politics and religion and inciting of dissent.
- Obtained permanent residence for a Hindustani classical vocalist from Bangladesh based on her extraordinary ability and work in the national interest of the United States.
- Obtained permanent residence and waiver of inadmissibility for a Mexican man who had prior unlawful presence in the United States and who had made misrepresentations on prior visa applications. Successfully argued that his U.S. citizen spouse would suffer extreme hardship if he were not able to remain in the U.S. with her and their two young U.S. citizen children.
- Filed successful motions to reopen and reconsider and convinced USCIS to reinstate for humanitarian reasons the revoked family-based immigrant visa petitions of three Jamaican siblings whose mother, the petitioner, had passed away prior to the issuance of their visas by the U.S. consulate abroad.
- Obtained asylum for a family of four from Venezuela who had been targeted, threatened, subjected to attempted kidnappings, and beaten by the Chavez regime due to their political opinions and activism in Venezuela.
- Successfully appealed the denial of a marriage-based adjustment of status application and I-601 waiver of inadmissibility, and obtained permanent residence for a Ghanaian woman with special-needs children.
- Obtained Temporary Protected Status and a U visa for a Salvadoran man who was the victim of an armed robbery and who assisted law enforcement in investigating the crime.
- Successfully argued that a Canadian businessman was an individual of good moral character for purposes of naturalization, despite his conviction for mailing prohibited items and his corporation’s related convictions. Convinced USCIS that the corporation’s convictions should not be imputed to the applicant in determining whether he was an individual of good moral character, and he was granted U.S. citizenship.
- Convinced USCIS to reopen asylum application and obtained asylum for a secular Iranian with Western political beliefs and values after his two previous applications had been erroneously denied due to the one year filing deadline.
- Successfully challenged an allegation of fraud against a Peruvian man due to his prior use of a photo-switched passport, as a minor under the age of 18, to enter the United States. Obtained permanent residence for the client without need for a waiver of inadmissibility so he could remain with his U.S. citizen wife.
- Obtained permanent resident status for a Kenyan woman based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen after multiple adjustment of status interviews and unfounded challenges to the validity of the couple’s marriage by USCIS.
- Obtained P visas for various African hip-hop artists to enter the United States and perform on tour.
- Obtained removal of conditions on residence and waiver of the joint filing requirement for a Czech woman whose marriage to the U.S. citizen petitioner had dissolved after she received permanent residence based on their marriage.
- Successfully reopened the denial of a Pakistani man’s marriage-based adjustment of status application under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and obtained permanent residence for the client, whose brother had previously filed a petition on his behalf.
- Obtained asylum for an Iranian journalist and his wife who had been targeted, arrested, detained, and tortured for his political opinions and association with Western media in exposing the truth and fighting the censorship of the Ahmadinejad regime.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
- Convinced Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release client from detention, and obtained a stay of removal for a Salvadoran woman who had been ordered removed by an Immigration Judge in the past so that she could petition for a U visa based on the years of severe domestic abuse she had suffered. The U visa was granted and her prior removal proceedings were reopened and terminated.
- Convinced Office of Chief Counsel to join in a motion to reopen and terminate proceedings for Turkish scientists who had left the United States during their removal proceedings to pursue their research abroad. Reopening and terminating their proceedings enabled them to re-enter the United States without waivers of inadmissibility.
- Obtained a stay of removal for a schizophrenic Ethiopian woman so that she could file a motion to reopen her case before the Immigration Court based on her diminished capacity and prior ineffective assistance of counsel to apply for asylum based on her political beliefs and mental health condition.
- Convinced the Office of Chief Counsel to join in motion to reopen a Georgian man’s removal proceedings based on lack of notice of his prior proceedings and his marriage to a U.S. citizen so he could apply for adjustment of status based on his U.S. citizen spouse’s petition on his behalf (with Thomas Ragland).
U.S. Customs and Border Protection:
- Convinced CBP officers to correct numerous clients’ I-94 cards, which had been issued with incorrect immigration status, dates and duration of admission, and names.
- Represented Indian IT worker at deferred inspection and convinced CBP to admit him to the United States based on his valid H-1B visa.
- Convinced U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. consulate in Montreal, Canada that a Canadian woman with prior immigration fraud, unlawful presence in the United States, and a previous removal order should be re-admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident based on her marriage to a United States citizen and the extreme hardship that he was suffering without her in the United States.
- Obtained an I-601 extreme hardship waiver for a Bangladeshi woman who had been found to make a material misrepresentation on a prior immigration application by demonstrating that her U.S. citizen husband was suffering extreme hardship without her in the United States. Assisted with her application for an Immigrant Visa at the consulate in Dhaka, Bangladesh and with her entry to the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
- Convinced U.S. consulate in Singapore to reverse its finding of a woman’s inadmissibility based on unlawful presence in the United States, so she may return to the United States without a waiver of inadmissibility.
- Author, “An Introduction to Asylum Law and Procedure,” book chapter, What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About Immigration Law, American Bar Association (forthcoming).
- Author, "Evidentiary Issues in Asylum Cases," AILA's Immigration Practice Pointers, 2013 - 2014 Edition.
- Editor, "Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions: A Primer on What Crimes Can Get Your Client into Trouble," "Family-Sponsored Immigration," and "One-Step Marriage Walk Through," Navigating the Fundamentals of Immigration Law, 2013 - 2014 Edition.
- Author, "I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers: A Practitioner's Guide for Preserving Family Unity," West's Immigration Briefings, June 2013.
- Contributor, AILA's Litigation Toolbox (Third and Fourth Editions), American Immigration Lawyers Association.
- Contributor, AILA's Immigration Practice Toolbox (Fourth Edition), American Immigration Lawyers Association.
- Editor, Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court (Third Edition) by Robert Pauw, American Immigration Lawyers Association.
- Expert Reviewer, “Assembly Line Injustice,” Appleseed Report 2012.
- Author, “No Minor Issue: The Diminished Capacity of Minors in Our Immigration System,” West’s Immigration Briefings, April 2012.
- Author, "Definition of Conviction," Interpreter Releases, Vol. 88, No. 4, pp. 294-295 (Jan. 24, 2011).
- Author, “The Plight of the Crewman: The Need for an Immediate Relative Exception to the Prohibition on Adjustment of Status and Strategies for Representing Alleged Crewmen Under Current Law,” West’s Immigration Briefings, June 2010.
- Author, “Lost in Translation: Why Professional Interpreters are Critical to the Fairness of Asylum Interviews,” AILA’s Immigration Law Today, May/June 2008.
- Author, “Incorporating a Hardship Factor in Asylum Claims Based on Female Genital Mutilation: A Legislative Solution to Protect the Best Interests of Children,” Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Spring 2007.
- Author, “Board of Immigration Appeals Determines that Immigration Judges Have the Authority to Administratively Close Removal Proceedings Over a Party’s Opposition,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
- Author, “Maggio + Kattar Attorneys Take Leadership on Prosecutorial Discretion Pilot Program,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
- Author, “A Potential Crack in the Armor Against Granting Asylum to Those Who Resist Induction into Gangs,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
- Author, “As the Federal Government Remains Idle on Immigration, Local Governments Continue to Implement Their Own Faulty Immigration Policies,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
- Author, “Supreme Court Decides Nken v. Holder,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
- Author, “New Military Recruiting Program for Eligible Non-Citizens Went Into Effect on February 23, 2009,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
- Author, “New Third Circuit Case, Bradley v. Attorney General of the United States, Reignites Debate Regarding Whether Visa Waiver Program Entrants May Adjust Status Before an Immigration Judge,” Maggio + Kattar Immigration News + Analysis.
Selected Speaking Engagements:
- Discussion Leader, "Asylum and Removal Case Preparation and Practicum," American Immigration Lawyers Association Paralegals Conference, Washington, DC, October 25, 2013.
- Panelist, "Women as Leaders: Negotiating Skills for Success," The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, September 19, 2013.
- Discussion Leader, "Recent Updates in Comprehensive Immigration Reform," American Bar Association Lunch and Learn Series, July 29, 2013.
- Discussion Leader, "Evidentiary Issues in Asylum Cases," American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 29, 2013.
- Discussion Leader, "Representing Clients with Mental Health Issues: A Primer on EOIR's New Mental Health Rules," American Bar Association Lunch and Learn Series, April 18, 2013.
- Speaker, "Representing Immigrant Children," AILA-DC Chapter and Child Immigrants DC Collaborative training, March 19, 2013.
- Panelist, "Careers in Immigration Law," George Mason University School of Law, January 17, 2013.
- Discussion Leader, "2012 Election Results: Consequences for Employment and Family-Based Immigration," American Bar Association Lunch and Learn Series, December 18, 2012.
- Discussion Leader, "When the Petitioner Becomes the Target: Strategies for Presenting Petitions Impacted by the Adam Walsh Act," American Immigration Lawyers Association Web Seminar, November 13, 2012.
- Panelist, "Practical 'Nuts and Bolts' Tips - Criminal Issues," Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Nuts and Bolts Seminar, Federal Bar Association, October 31, 2012.
- Panelist, "ABA Pro Bono Training: The Essentials of Immigration Court Representation, Appeals to the BIA and Circuit Courts," American Bar Association Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, August 1, 2012.
- Discussion Leader, "Deferred Action for Dreamers," American Bar Association Lunch and Learn Series, July 25, 2012.
- Panelist, “ABA Pro Bono Training: The Essentials of Immigration Court Representation, Appeals to the BIA and Circuit Courts,” American Bar Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, February 1, 2012.
- Panelist, “ABA Pro Bono Training: The Essentials of Immigration Court Representation, Introduction to Immigration Court Proceedings,” American Bar Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, February 1, 2012.
- Panelist, “Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law,” Law and Public Policy Forum, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, January 30, 2012.
- Discussion Leader, “The Plight of the Crewman: Strategies for Representing C-1/D Entrants Under Current Law,” American Immigration Lawyers Association Web Seminar, November 22, 2011.
- Faculty, “VAWA/U Visa Pro Bono Training,” Maggio + Kattar and Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, November 15, 2011.
- Featured and quoted in American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Pro Bono Newsletter for dedication to pro bono representation, “Firm Carries on Michael Maggio’s Pro Bono Legacy,” Fall 2011.
- Faculty, “Trying a Case in Immigration Court: Advice from the Bench and Bar,” District of Columbia Bar Continuing Legal Education, August 23, 2011.
- Speaker, “The Varying Definition of Conviction,” American Bar Association Lunch and Learn Series, March 24, 2011.
- Panelist, “Careers in Immigration Law,” American Immigration Lawyers Association Open House, February 11, 2011.
- Speaker, “Careers in Immigration Law,” Ayuda, Inc., July 29, 2010.
- Panelist, “Law Student Networking Event,” American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, June 30, 2010.
- Faculty, “Pro Bono Model Hearing Program: Skills for Representing Respondents in Immigration Court,” AILA-DC Chapter, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, and Catholic Charities, February 5, 2010.
- Faculty, “Declaratory Judgments for Business and Family Practitioners,” American Immigration Lawyers Association Teleconference, August 4, 2009.
- Faculty, “Immigration Implications of Criminal Convictions,” District of Columbia Bar Continuing Legal Education, May 12, 2009.
- Panelist, “Careers in Immigration Law,” University of Baltimore School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, April 22, 2008.