Legal Matters

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By Atty. Johnson Lazaro

NO, we’re not talking about UFO’s or Star Wars.  In the immigration context, an alien is the term that the government uses when referring to illegal immigrants.  If you don’t have a “green card” you are an alien.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been staying in the U.S. for over ten years – you are an alien.  Sometimes even if you are a lawful permanent resident, you are still considered an alien.  You are given an “alien card.” Times are hard for aliens.

The news is filled with stories of immigration raids in workplaces.  Men in green uniforms chasing down men without work permits. The raids are relentless.  Ever since the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive reform, we are seeing more immigration enforcement.  They’ve increased the guards at the borders.  They are hiring more border patrols.  On the judicial end, immigration trial attorneys and judges are without mercy – working hard to remove aliens from the United States.

The numbers are staggering.  According to the Washington Post, 256,000 were deported in 2018.  If you add those who were deported who don’t have criminal convictions, the figures go up enormously.  If you have a conviction, no matter how minor it may be, be prepared for a visit from the immigration police.  If you are ever processed in any U.S. jail, immigration will place a hold on you.  Sometimes even a traffic stop can catch their attention.

There is a tremendous emotional toll for anyone facing deportation or removal.  The losses are many.  You lose the right to live and work in the U.S. You lose the right to enter America.  You lose your job, your house, and other properties that you worked hard for.

You lose your friends and family.  You lose your community and possibly part of your identity.  On top of that, deported persons who come back into the U.S. illegally commit a federal felony offense, carrying a maximum from two to 20 years in federal prison.

The current immigration enforcement is so tight that an alien who has been overstaying for even just a day may not slip through the crack.  Any applications for immigration benefit may raise a red flag if you’re an alien overstay.  The net has been casted so wide that even the smallest fish will get caught.  This is a very broad statute making an individual subject to deportation if he or violates any of the immigration rules.  One common misconception is that once you file for an extension of stay, you’re safe.  At least one immigration officer stated that this is not true.   The immigration enforcers are able, ready and willing.  Be careful.

For those who are not U.S. citizens, if you are accused of a crime, speak to a public defender or an attorney right away.  It is dangerous to go through the process without first getting good legal advice. A criminal conviction could result in permanent deportation or removal.  The criminal attorney must investigate all immigration consequences at the outset.  You as the client must be vigilant in insisting how important it is to avoid deportation.  The criminal law attorney must seek immigration counsel if you are an alien.

Finally, do not talk to police, district attorney, or immigration authorities before you speak to a lawyer or a public defender.  Even aliens have the right to speak to counsel.

For  comments on this  article please call 866-237-9555 or Email: law@lazaroaw.com     This article does not form an attorney-client relationship.  It should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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