Articles Posted in Immigration Enforcement

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graduation-022-300x225On June 15, 2017, Department of Homeland Secretary John Kelly issued a Policy Memo regarding two programs:  the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens (DAPA) and there was good news and bad news.  The bad news – Secretary Kelly rescinded the November 20, 2014 memo that created DAPA.  DAPA was an Obama program that awarded deferred action from deportation and a work permit to those parents of U.S. citizen children that met certain criteria, such as having lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010 and other factors.  But before the program could be implemented, 26 states joined in a lawsuit against DAPA, and a Federal Judge from the District Court for the Southern District of Texas enjoined the DAPA program, preventing it from ever being executed.    The good news – Secretary Kelly left in tact the Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) program.  Unfortunately certain provisions in the DAPA policy memorandum that expanded DACA  such as allowing a 3-year work permit instead of 2 year, and eliminating the eligibility age cap of 31 years old were also eliminated.  So DACA remains as is for now, pursuant to the June 15, 2012 Memorandum.  Although this appears to be a reprieve for the DACA program for now, the Trump administration would not commit to the long-term fate of DACA.  For now, Work permits for DACA recipients will not be revoked, and the program continues to be open to new and renewal applications.  You can still apply for DACA if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
  • You came to the United States before your sixteenth birthday;
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statue_of_liberty-237x300Venezuela is now the top U.S. Asylum Seeking nation since the crash of the Venezuela economy and the government’s widespread persecution and harassment of opponents of Nicolas Maduro.  Venezuela is in crisis, with its people enduring hyperinflation, scarcity of food and medicine, high crime and political corruption.  Thousands of its citizens are fleeing to neighboring countries such as Colombia, Brazil, and also Spain and the United States.  Since March 2017, 30 protestors of Maduro administration have been killed.  Thousands of people have been arrested for political reasons since 2016.  Over 14,700 Venezuelans sought asylum in the U.S. in FY2016.  And halfway through FY2017, Venezuelan asylum applications are on pace to double again.

It should be noted that fleeing ones country due to hunger, the economy, or joblessness does not qualify you for asylum in the U.S.  To qualify for asylum in the United States, you must meet the definition of a refugee, which means you are unable or unwilling to return to your own country because of persecution or  well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.   An asylum seeker will need to provide credible testimony, and genuine documentation to prove past persecution or well founded fear of persecution.  Know that the the consequences for filing a frivolous claim of asylum, or counterfeit or false documentation to support an asylum application are grave.  If USCIS or an immigration finds that a  person knowingly filed a frivolous or fabricated asylum claim,  that person will be forever barred from gaining a lawful immigration benefit or status in the United States.

We recommend you see a qualified immigration attorney for a consultation before you proceed with an asylum application, to help you evaluate whether your claim has merit.  Then you can decide whether you wand to proceed on your own, or retain an attorney to help you through the process.

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100203houston_lg-300x227If you are undocumented and approached by Law Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, ICE or other Immigration Officials – you do have certain rights.  If encountered at home, you do not have to open the door unless the officials have a search warrant.  You have the right to remain silent, and the right to speak to a lawyer if you are detained or taken into custody.  If you are approached in a Public area by immigration officers, you have the right to remain silent, you may refuse a search, and you have the right to speak to a lawyer if detained or taken into custody.  You can refuse to sign any and all paperwork presented to you until you have spoken to a lawyer.  Print out the attached Know Your Rights pages and keep them for your reference.  Cut out the Know Your Rights Card and carry it with you.  You may give it to immigration officers if you do not wish to speak to them.

Know your Rights – Home

Know Your Rights Card

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handcuffs-308899_640-300x221On April 11, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all federal prosecutors titled “Renewed Commitment to Criminal Immigration Enforcement,” in which he directs federal prosecutors to enforce the criminal laws against unlawful entry into the United States.  In the past, offenses such as unlawful entry, unlawful re-entry, document fraud or identity theft had noncriminal resolutions such as deportation or voluntary departure. The policies recently outlined by Sessions now encourage criminal prosecution of non-violent immigration violations as follows:

  1.  Offenses related to unlawful transportation of harboring of undocumented aliens, with priority on those smuggling three or more individuals.
  2. Any case where the defendant has two or more prior misdemeanor improper entry convictions, or one or more improper entry convictions with aggravating circumstances, such as criminal history, gang membership or affiliation or multiple prior voluntary returns, prior removal or deportation orders, will be referred for criminal prosecution.