How Michael Avenatti’s publicity hounding might actually be hurting kids seeking U.S. asylum

When Avenatti posted confidential client information online, many immigration lawyers were outraged. On Twitter, he posted a document with his client’s full “A number” (an identifying number for immigration purposes) and other identifying information. These made it clear to anyone reading—including the government of the person’s birth country—that this individual was seeking asylum. This is a major no-no for obvious reasons.

Indeed, experienced immigration lawyers who spotted this major breach of client private information have indicated they have to report Avenatti to the State Bar of California, where Avenatti is licensed to practice law. Certain states are “mandatory reporting” states. That means if a lawyer becomes aware of potential unethical behavior by an attorney he or she must report it.

Avenatti’s craziness doesn’t stop there. Several immigration lawyers believe Avenatti is agreeing to “voluntary departures” for children for publicity’s sake. Voluntary departure is a process whereby the individual chooses to return to his or her home country and forgo any proceedings. While Avenatti’s tweets make it seem like he’s doing God’s work reuniting children with their parents, he could very well being doing real damage.