During a Fox News online telecast, Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte stated that legislation must be passed to tackle the issues regarding millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., the workforce’s demand for more high- and low-skilled labor and more. (more…)
by Rekha Sharma-Crawford, Esq.
The last time Comprehensive Immigration Reform was on a President’s agenda was in 2006. George Bush was President. The people were rallying in the streets and Congress was stubbornly resisting any efforts to address immigration as an issue. What a difference an election makes. (more…)
To qualify for naturalization, applicants must speak, read, and write basic English and understand U.S. history and civics. There are age-based exemptions and a disability waiver. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History collaborated to create a new educational website to help naturalization applicants prepare for the civics and history test. Launched this week, Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship, “features videos and multimedia activities that showcase artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution’s collections and exhibitions.”
Sometimes one set of facts can give rise to multiple legal issues. For example, a DUI can result in criminal penalties and a loss of one’s driver’s privilege’s. If an accident is also involved, then there may also be a case for civil damages against the drunk driver. One set of facts would then result in multiple legal cases.
The same is true for immigration cases. Normally, when a non citizen lands in removal proceedings, it is because something they did caused them to come to the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Sometimes, after a person is arrested on a criminal charge, they are transferred to ICE. Under this scenario, the person has two distinct cases: the criminal case and the immigration case. Each of these cases are unique and require a different analysis of the consequences as it relates to the non citizen’s status.
Individuals sometimes confuse the way immigration and criminal cases intersect and yet remain distinct. They often do not understand that while all fees and penalties have been resolved in the criminal case, immigration consequences may still remain that will require additional attention. To help understand the way this plays out in practical terms, let’s examine the DUI fact scenario. DUI is a criminal charge. The individual will have to appear in front of a judge and will have to be processed through the criminal justice system. For citizens, once they have completed all of the requirements under the criminal case, they can put the incident behind them.
For non citizens, there may be additional considerations. If they have fallen out of status, simply being arrested and held in jail, even for a few hours may result in contact with ICE. If the person is in status or changing status a DUI or other criminal charges may affect one’s ability to change remain in or change status. Some convictions may have a direct effect on one’s status, others may affect a person’s character.
Being a person of “good moral character” is an integral part of successfully moving through the immigration system. Criminal cases, even those successfully completed, can cause a person to be found to not possess good moral character. This finding may prevent a change of status even years after the conviction.
A non-citizen can never take criminal charges lightly. One must take care to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney and an equally skilled immigration attorney who is well versed in the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. It takes coordination between these two professionals to prevent disastrous consequences.
Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a firm deeply experienced in the complexities of immigration litigation. Whether you are facing criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court – the caring professionals at Sharma-Crawford can help you navigate through the complex legal system. For more information, please call (913) 385-9821 or visit www.Sharma-Crawford.com. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. The information contained in this article is general information and should not be considered legal counsel.
When President Obama was elected, many thought he would use the opportunity of a democratic majority to address the issue of immigration reform. This did not happen. With deportation cases at an all-time high and migration at an all-time low, the need for a comprehensive immigration law has never been clearer. For 2011, the Kansas City, Missouri Immigration Court, which handles cases from all over Kansas (including Wichita, Salina, and Western Kansas) and Missouri (including St. Louis), has a current case-load of 3,448. The average time a case remains pending is approximately 300 days.
Perhaps in a response to the number of cases and the lack of immigration reform on the horizon, recently Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton issued a memorandum, known as the Morton Memo on Prosecutorial Discretion, directing immigration agents to exercise discretion in removing people. In so doing, Director Morton reminded ICE the need to use good judgment in evaluating whether removal proceedings should be initiated and whether the case meets the priority guidelines set out by the Agency.
Morton Memo sets out a non-exhaustive list of opportunities under which prosecutorial discretion is appropriate. These circumstances include:
- deciding to issue or cancel a notice of detainer;
- deciding to issue, reissue, serve, file, or cancel a Notice to Appear(NTA);
- focusing enforcement resources on particular administrative violations or conduct;
- whom to stop, question, or arrest for an administrative violation;
- deciding whom to detain or to release on bond, supervision, personal recognizance, or other condition;
- seeking expedited removal or other forms of removal by means other than a formal removal proceeding in immigration court;
- settling or dismissing a proceeding;
- granting deferred action, granting parole, or staying a final order of removal;
- agreeing to voluntary departure, the withdrawal of an application for admission, or other action in lieu of obtaining a formal order of removal;
- pursuing an appeal;
- executing a removal order; and
- responding to or joining in a motion to reopen removal proceedings and to consider joining in a motion to grant relief or a benefit
The Memo goes on to provide an extensive, though not exclusive list of considerations to be examined in deciding if the use of prosecutorial discretion. These considerations include:
- the agency’s civil immigration enforcement priorities;
- the person’s length of presence in the United States, with particular consideration given to presence while in lawful status;
- the circumstances of the person’s arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
- the person’s pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the United States;
- whether the person, or the person’s immediate relative, has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat;
- the person’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
- the person’s immigration history, including any prior removal, outstanding order of removal, prior denial o f status, or evidence o f fraud;
- whether the person poses a national security or public safety concern;
- the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
- the person’s ties to the home country and condition in the country;
- the person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly;
- whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent;
- whether the person is the primary caretaker o f a person with a mental or physical disability, minor, or seriously ill relative;
- whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing;
- whether the person or the person’s spouse suffers from severe mental or physical illness;
- whether the person’s nationality renders removal unlikely;
- whether the person is likely to be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal, including as a relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
- whether the person is likely to be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal, including as an asylum seeker, or a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other crime; and
- whether the person is currently cooperating or has cooperated with federal, state or local law enforcement authorities, such as ICE, the U.S Attorneys or Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, or National Labor Relations Board, among others.
These criterias signal a shift in the overzealous enforcement efforts of the past and while it does not go so far as to effectively halt removal of Dream Act kids or deactivate the Secure Communities program, it does show some progress in common sense immigration enforcement. Although a complete and effective overhaul remains elusive and it is unlikely that such change will come before the next election, this is a good start. The question, however, that remains unanswered is exactly how long it will take to implement the directives set out in the Morton Memo. Read the full memo on the Sharma-Crawford Facebook page.
Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a Kansas City, Missouri, firm deeply experienced in the complexities of immigration litigation. Whether you are facing criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court, in Kansas or Missouri – the caring professionals at Sharma-Crawford can help you navigate through the complex legal system. For more information, please call (913) 385-9821 or visit www.Sharma-Crawford.com. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. The information contained in this article is general information and should not be considered legal counsel.