If you pay any attention to the news, read articles on the internet, or talk to people who do keep up with these things, you’ve likely heard the stories circulating about both undocumented people and legal residents being detained by ICE and deported for seemingly no reason and being given no opportunity to fight their case. At least one recent story has also mentioned someone who was in the process of applying for their green card but was detained at his interview. Stories like these understandably have the immigrant community in a state of fear to pursue their own cases or even drive down the street. No one wants to face the possibility that they too will be detained and forced to leave the country and their family behind.
These frightening headlines and stories inspired me to write this particular blog to try to give people some perspective and hopefully settle some fears. The truth about what has happened to these people comes down to one thing – they all have something in their past that has made them subject to being detained. They are not people with clean criminal or immigration records. For example, the man I mentioned above who was detained while at the interview for his green card actually had prior order of removal on his record from several years ago. He was sent back to Mexico and then illegally re-entered the United States. This is why, when he sent in his application and then appeared for his interview, he ended up being detained. In another recent story that made headlines, a Polish doctor who was suddenly detained and placed in deportation proceedings turned out to have 2 criminal convictions from over 20 years ago that made him deportable. Immigration officials were always aware of this, but due to a change in “enforcement priorities” under the new Administration, he was now on their radar.
While I always urge clients to stay informed and keep up with things happening in the news regarding immigration, it is very important to pay attention not just to the headlines and small bits of information on these stories, but to dig deeper into the whole story for the details. Read more than just one news site about the same story and follow the story for more than just one day, as new details tend to emerge as time passes. This is when you see that while it seems that ICE may be picking up more people who have done nothing wrong, a lot of these big stories in the news may be glossing over the fact that these particular people do have a history that has placed them in this unfortunate situation. It also often goes unreported that some of these people do have remedies available to them to fight their deportation or to still end up getting their green card. A good example of this is the case of Jorge Garcia, the man recently deported from his family in Michigan. The news focused primarily on the fact that he had lived here since he was 10, had never been in trouble, his wife and children are U.S. citizens, and he always paid his taxes. What many news stories didn’t go into is how he was issued an order of voluntary departure years ago but did not leave as required and the order became an order of deportation. He was then allowed to remain in the U.S. for a short while with the understanding he could be ordered to leave at any time. In addition, because his wife and children are all U.S. citizens and because he has no criminal record, he does still have a chance to apply for and receive his green card and be reunited with his family.
Sadly, the one thing that many stories like these tends to show us is the importance of having an experienced immigration attorney to help evaluate and you handle your case, and how important it is to give your attorney all of your criminal and immigration history when seeking help. With all of the necessary information about your past, an experienced immigration attorney can properly assess your situation to make sure that you do qualify for the benefits you seek before any application is filed bringing you to the attention of U.S. immigration officials. There is no need to be afraid of the possible negative consequences if you have the right legal help on your side.
Are you or someone you know thinking about filing an application for immigration benefits? Talk to an experienced attorney to assess your eligibility before moving forward with the paperwork. Contact my office today at (210) 320-5633 to set up a free initial consultation and get a professional review of your case.