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WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW IF THE DACA PROGRAM ENDS?

There are some reports that President Trump may end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program soon. At this time, we do not know when or if the DACA program will be terminated or what the end of the program may look like. For example, will those with DACA continue to be protected from deportation and able to use their work permits until they expire? Or will DACA approvals and work permits be revoked? While the DACA program remains in effect at this time, see the following links for some things to keep in mind should the program end. ENGLISH / SPANISH

Source: www.ilrc.org

Protecting Yourself and Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe

Although Russell Immigration Law Firm hopes that you will never be in a situation where you or your family feels insecure and afraid, we recommend taking steps to prepare yourself for the possibility of detention, deportation, or other immigration problems. Knowing your rights and making an emergency plan are two such steps that will take away part of the fear and stress about the future. In addition to these suggestions, the lawyers at Russell Immigration are here to help you find your legal solutions and move through the immigration system.

Do You Know Your Rights?

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

The rights that a police officer announces to a person at the time of arrest are called the Miranda rights. When a person is questioned by a police officer, they can often feel frightened, intimidated, and/or nervous. When an officer reads you your Miranda rights, he or she is reminding you that, whether you are just questioned or taken into police custody, you are not powerless.

You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to speak with your lawyer before you talk to the police. However, it is very important to be confident in your rights and stand up for them, because police and immigration officers often use strategies which make you feel like you have no options. Even if you clearly tell the police that you want to remain silent or speak with your lawyer, they may continue to ask you questions. You do NOT have to answer their questions. If you say, “I want to remain silent” or “I want to talk to my lawyer”, the police are required to stop questioning you. If they don’t stop, they are violating your rights, and you can later ask a judge to refuse to accept (“exclude”) any evidence they obtained this way. Even after you are arrested or detained, the judge is the only person who can order you to answer questions.

According to the US Constitution, you also have the right to be safe in your home against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” When police or immigration officers come to your home, you do NOT have to open the door or give them permission to come inside. In order to come into your house, an officer should show you a paper called a “search warrant” that is signed by a judge.

Finally, if you are not a US citizen, you also have the right to know how any criminal charges and convictions can affect your immigration status. This is extremely important if you are choosing whether to plead guilty to a crime in order to make a deal with the court (also known as a “plea bargain”). If your criminal lawyer does not know how accepting the prosecutor’s offer in a criminal case will affect your immigration status, then he or she MUST discuss this with an immigration attorney to in order to represent you correctly.

Rights in the Immigration System are NOT the Same as in the Criminal System

When the police tell you what your rights are, they are giving you a warning that anything you say after that point will be used against you in a CRIMINAL trial. However, at any time when you are speaking with police, especially immigration officers, any information that you give can be used in IMMIGRATION court or when applying for immigration benefits. It does not matter if they didn’t warn you. Therefore, it is VERY important that you KNOW your rights and that you USE them to protect yourself from negative immigration consequences. When you speak with police officers or any other government officials, DO NOT lie or give them fake documents, like a driver’s license or permanent resident card, because that information will be used against you later and may even cause you to receive additiojnal very serious criminal charges.

It can help to carry a “know-your-rights” card that you can give to the police as soon as they stop you. The card tells police that you want to remain silent and will not answer their questions until your lawyer is present.

The biggest difference between the immigration system and the criminal justice system is that, in the criminal system, you have the right to a free lawyer if you cannot afford to hire one yourself. While you have to right to be represented by an attorney in the immigration system, you DO NOT have the right to a free lawyer if you cannot afford to pay to hire one.  If you are detained by immigration, you still have the right to have a lawyer with you and the right to talk with an attorney before you sign any documents. If you can’t afford to hire one, there are many who are willing to provide some immigration representation “pro-bono” (at no cost to you). Russell Immigration Law Firm maintains a list of some of these attorneys. If you are detained by ICE and are not already working with one of the attorneys from our office, we may be able to connect you with a pro-bono attorney who can help you seek a bond (or a bond reduction).

Make an Emergency Plan

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In addition to knowing your rights, many negative consequences can be avoided through careful emergency planning. You should create a plan to protect your family and possessions (like your car or home). Preparing for the worst scenario can help you to feel more in control, less afraid of what might happen, and stronger in the face of pressure from an ICE officer.

  • Memorize phone numbers for anyone you may want to call if you are detained, because the police or ICE may not let you use your phone after you are arrested.
  • Keep all important papers together in one place and tell someone that you trust where to find them. Important documents will include: birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, immigration documents/paperwork, papers related to criminal matters, medical records, and instructions for medicine.
  • Have an emergency fund that can be used to pay bills and other expenses in your absence.
  • If you have children who are less than 18 years old, choose someone that you really trust to take care of them. Memorize that person’s phone number.  An attorney can help you prepare and sign a document called a “power of attorney” to give that person temporary legal power to make decisions for your children’s school and well-being in the event you are unable to care for them.
  • Don’t forget to make plans for a neighbor to care for your pets.
  • Choose someone who will be in charge of telling your employer that you will not be at work.

Reach Out to Community Organizations

With all of the news about President Trump’s agenda and recent reports of higher numbers of people being arrested and deported, you might feel worried about the risk of immigration problems for yourself and your family. You are not alone! Louisville has a great network of support for the immigrant, noncitizen, and refugee community, including organizations such as La Casita Center, Doors to Hope, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, and the Americana Community Center. Please also reach out to your neighbors, especially if they don’t seem to have a strong support network. Your help might make all the difference to someone!

In difficult times, we all should reach out to others for mutual assistance and support. Remember, “the people, united, will never be defeated.”

(General) Know Your Rights [ENGLISH/SPANISH]: This flyer has basic information about your rights when being investigated or detained by the police.

(Extended Version) Know Your Rights: This flyer includes helpful information about what to do if you or a loved one is detained by immigration. [ENGLISH/SPANISH])

Source: www.altotrump.com, www.ilrc.org

Will DACA be ended by the courts?

Readers may remember that Texas and 25 other states sued the federal government in 2015 to stop its implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA, programs announced by President Obama in 2014. The federal judge in Texas, where the case began, issued a nationwide injunction preventing the federal government from moving forward. The injunction was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which deadlocked 4-4 – allowing the injunction to remain in place.

Because the 2015 lawsuit only challenged the 2014 expansion of DACA, it did not affect the original 2012 DACA, and many have been able to obtain DACA or renew previous DACA grants under that program even while that lawsuit was going forward.

Unfortunately, leaders in some of those states want the original 2012 DACA ended as well, and believed President Trump would end the program when he took office. Since he has (so far) refused to do so, the Texas State Attorney General (AG) and nine other Republican State Attorney Generals are now threatening to add the original 2012 DACA program to the 2015 lawsuit if President Trump does not end the program by September 5, 2017.  President Trump has chosen to continue DACA up to this point, but it is impossible to say what he will do in the future. If he does not at least indicate by September 5th that he will end the DACA program, it is likely that the above-listed states will follow through on their threat soon thereafter.

If the AGs follow through on their threat, the fate of DACA may be sealed and it will likely eventually be ended by the courts.  That is because every court where the suit would proceed (US District Court in Texas, US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S Supreme Court), is dominated by conservatives who would likely rule against the program the same way they ruled against the 2014 expansion.  Even pro-immigration legal scholars concur in this analysis.

This strategy was successful for the AGs when they fought against the DAPA and DACA expansion programs in 2015, and the courts that allowed the injunction to stand in that case are the same courts that would now hear the arguments against the original 2012 DACA.

When could DACA end?

That is hard to predict exactly. It is possible, even likely, that DACA filings could end soon after the suit is filed.  That is because it would be filed with the same US District Court judge who issued the first injunction, and it is highly likely that he would issue one for the original 2012 DACA program as well. That would prohibit the federal government from processing DACA applications while the case proceeds through the courts – a process likely to take at least several years.  However, if the judge does not issue a new injunction, the program could continue for many months, or a year or more, before the US Supreme Court finally decides against continuing DACA.

Should someone file a new DACA application, file to renew DACA, or file an application to travel abroad (an application for Advance Parole)?

 In each case the person should contact an experienced immigration attorney to advise on the pros and cons of filing each application based on the facts of their individual case and the status and progress of the court suit. 

In the case of filing an application for Advance Parole, the future benefit of traveling and reentering on Advance Parole is very significant, but only if the person originally entered the United States illegally.  That is because the person would now have a legal entry into the U.S. 

Why is this important? It is important because having entered the U.S. legally gives a person more options if that person later has a way to obtain permanent resident status. For example, if at some time in the future a person were to marry a U.S citizen, the legal reentry on Advance Parole could allow the person to apply for permanent resident status inside the U.S. instead of having to travel abroad to apply for an immigrant visa (also permanent resident status), which would very likely also require the person to ask for a waiver of inadmissibility. Applying for permanent residency without leaving the U.S. means the person would likely not need the waiver, which makes the process faster, less expensive, and less risky.  

Again, you should NOT move forward with filing any of the above applications until AFTER consulting with an experienced immigration attorney.

 

USCIS Releases Study App

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new app called "USCIS: Civics Test Study Tools." The press release reads as follows: 

Our app, “USCIS: Civics Test Study Tools,” is now available on the iTunes and Google Play app stores. The app helps you prepare for the civics test during the naturalization interview. It also has a game to challenge your civics knowledge, reminder notifications, and review of past tests. You can also switch between English and Spanish.
Be sure you get our official app! Follow the links above or search for “USCIS" or "USCIS civics.” Then, check that USCIS is the developer.

Additional study materials for the English and Civics tests can be found for free at the USCIS website. You can also find a practice Civics test there.

INCREASE IN IMMIGRATION ARRESTS

As you probably already heard or noticed, there has been a significant increase in arrests of undocumented immigrants across the United States. In the three months between January 22nd and April 29th, 2017, those arrests increased by 40%, compared to the same time frame last year.

Although most of those arrested had criminal convictions, both ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly state that ICE will arrest any undocumented person, regardless of criminal history.

As such, it is critically important that you know your rights and know how to protect yourself.

Click on the “protect yourself” tag below or type in “protect” in the search box on the right to read articles which thoroughly describe how you can protect yourself.

See article published by ICE here.

Scam Alert: DHS OIG Hotline Telephone Number Used in Scam to Obtain Personal Information

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a fraud alert on April 19, 2017, to warn the public about a scam using the DHS OIG hotline telephone number. Scammers have identified themselves as “U.S. Immigration” employees and have altered their caller ID to seem like the call is coming from the DHS OIG hotline (1-800-323-8603). They then demand that the individual provide or verify personally identifiable information, often by telling individuals that they are victims of identity theft.

Read the DHS OIG fraud alert for more details.

If a Scammer Calls You

If you receive a call demanding personal information or payment, hang up immediately. If you want to verify whether a call is from USCIS, you may:

* Call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 to ask if you need to do anything about your case or immigration status,

* Make an InfoPass appointment at http://infopass.uscis.gov, or

* Use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application.

Remember, USCIS officials will never threaten you or ask for payment over the phone or in an email. If we need payment, we will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment. Do not give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.

How to Report a Call from a Scammer

If you receive a scam email or phone call, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at http://1.usa.gov/1suOHSS. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS webmaster at uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative at www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams for more information on common scams and other important tips.

SOURCE: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (uscis@public.govdelivery.com)

 

Expedited Removals To Begin Soon

This past Saturday evening, on February 18, 2017, the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, issued a Memo to implement the new Executive Order on Border Enforcement that was signed on January 25, 2017.  One of the most shocking and harmful of the changes in the Memo was the announcement that Expedited Removals, previously issued only at airports, border points of entry, and against undocumented individuals who were caught within 100 miles of the border, will now be applied throughout the United States.  This is an unprecedented expansion of the law that will hopefully be challenged in federal courts.  This new Memo will potentially allow very fast deportations of millions of undocumented individuals from the United States.

Q&A ON EXPEDITED REMOVALS

What is an Expedited Removal Order?

An Expedited Removal Order is an order of deportation, with similar legal effect as an order of removal by an immigration judge.  But the Expedited Removal order is not issued by an immigration judge, it is issued by the immigration officer soon after arrest of the person.  More importantly, the arrested person has no right to speak to an attorney, no right to a bond or a bond hearing, and no right to a hearing before an immigration judge where you can apply for a benefit, such as Cancellation of Removal. All due process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and in the Immigration and Nationality Act (i.e., right to a bond, right to obtain an attorney, right to a hearing before an immigration judge and to apply for a status, such as permanent residency) are denied.  After the order is given the person is removed from the U.S. as soon as possible. If the person is from a border country such as Mexico, the removal is quickly arranged.  If from another country such as in Central America, or Africa, the removal will take longer to arrange because it is by plane. 

What Is The Reason For Expanding Expedited Removal Order To The Interior of The US?

The Memo clearly explains the government’s reason for the expansion.  The Memo states that immigration courts are seriously backlogged with over 500,000 cases in immigration court.  And that many court cases take years to be heard by an immigration judge. Therefore, the government wants to deport people without allowing hearings in immigration courts, to avoid deportation, and remain in the US. The reason for the court backlog lies with Congress because for over 20 years they refused to properly increase funding to expand the immigration courts to handle the backlog of cases.  It is wrong to blame immigrants for the inaction of Congress.

Can Undocumented Individuals Do Anything to Stop An Expedited Removal Order From the US?

YES!  Nearly all undocumented individuals can stop an immigration officer from issuing an Expedited Removal order.  First, undocumented individuals must ALWAYS carry in their possession, proof of continuous physical presence in the U.S. for at least the past TWO years.  The two years of documentation must be updated every month to prove your continuous physical presence. You must have the documentation in your possession at all times, especially whenever you leave the house (even to go outside to empty the garbage, or go to work, church, or school).  It should ALWAYS be in your possession no matter where you go or what you are doing.  And besides updating your documentation every month, you should have an extra copy at home. This could allow a documented family member or friend to present proof of your continuous physical presence for the past two years to the immigration officer at the local ICE office.  Since this may not be allowed, the best way to avoid an Expedited Removal Order is to always carry the documentation with you. 

Also, international treaties, signed and recognized by our government, allow every foreign national to speak to someone at their own consulate after arrest in the U.S.  This is a right that must be recognized by all government officials when demanded by any foreign national.  Asserting this right can be helpful if you face an immigration officer who refuses to recognize your proof of two years of continuous physical presence in the U.S.  You can ask the consulate to intervene by helping you to get an attorney to argue against expedited removal and remain in the U.S.

Finally, if you are afraid to return to your home country, you should clearly and consistently state you are afraid to return, to every immigration officer you come in contact with.  Once you express a credible fear of persecution you will be allowed to have an interview by an asylum officer.  However, your fear to the officer must be done in a way that is recognized under our immigration laws.  For example, if you have a fear of harm by cartel or gang members in your community back home, your fear will not be considered important under our law. 

However, if your fear is also based on the targeting of family members back home by cartel or gang members, you may be part of a protected social group of family members and your claim may be successful.  Or if you are afraid to return home because you will be harmed by a violent ex-partner, spouse or former spouse in your home country, your claim will more likely be recognized because it is based on a protected social group of battered ex-spouses or partners.  You must also be specific in the type of harm you fear (physical attack, murder, etc.), and who will inflict the harm on you.  But this type of defense to an Expedited Removal order is more difficult to establish to an immigration officer.  It will always be best to present two years of documentation of continuous physical presence in the U.S. to avoid an Expedited Removal order, and only assert a fear of persecution if the fear is real and you have no other choice.

What Type Of Documents Should I Carry to Show My Continuous Physical Presence For the Past Two Years?

There are many types of documents or combinations of documents that can show continuous physical presence:  monthly bank statements, monthly car payments, monthly cell phone bills, monthly house payments or rent receipts.  Every monthly document must clearly have your name on the document.  Basically, any monthly bills and payments with your name on them should be acceptable.  If you do not have monthly receipts, other documents such as proof of doctors visits for yourself, or your children, showing you took your child to the appointments, or school activities such as parent teacher conferences you attended can prove physical presence. 

A letter from your church minister, pastor, priest or deacon, showing attendance at church gatherings can be very helpful.  But these letters must be on church stationary and signed and dated by the minister, pastor, priest or deacon. The letters must also specifically and clearly explain your participation in the church, and how often you attend or participate in the church activity.  This type of letter can be used for both parents, and even undocumented children, if all attend the church activities.  You can make copies and use a copy for each person.  If church letterhead is not available, the letter must be signed and dated by the pastor, etc., before a Notary Public.  A copy of a photo ID of the person writing the letter (driver’s license, for example) should be attached to the letter.   There may be other types of documents one can use to establish continuous physical presence.  Just make sure the documents are clear and readable, with your name and date on the document and make a readable, duplicate copy.

Will The Expansion of Expedited Removal Be Challenged in Court?

We think so.  This is a very unprecedented and massive expansion of Expedited Removal.  And it is clearly done to deny due process rights to millions of undocumented individuals, many, if not most, of whom are to eligible to avoid deportation and even successfully apply for and obtain permanent resident status.  So legal challenges will likely be made and possibly be successful to overcome this unprecedented and unlawful application of law. But even if these changes are successful, it could take months or longer to get a positive court decision.  So it is best to always carry proof of your continuous physical presence wherever you go.

Can Other Challenges Be Made to Stop the Expansion of Expedited Removal?

Yes.  Many immigrant communities and their allies are getting organized to stop this unprecedented and unlawful expansion of law from deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented, thereby destroying immigrant families in our communities.  Many of these families contain U.S. citizen and permanent resident family members.   Such organizing include: presentations to immigrant communities about using documentation to stop issuance of Expedited Removal Orders; marches, rallies, strikes, and protests to stop the government deportations from destroying our immigrant communities and harming thousands of businesses that rely on immigrants to survive and succeed.  Some church communities, based on their strongly-held religious beliefs of providing safe refuge to those facing harm, are preparing to house immigrants who face imminent deportation.  Other communities are organizing alerts and planning ways to respond by protesting when raids are taking place.  We can and must oppose, in as many ways as legally possible, government efforts to deny due process rights that are guaranteed to every person in the U.S., even undocumented persons, who are equally protected by the U.S. Constitution, in addition to the rights and protections under the Immigration and Nationality Act.  As the great African American anti-slavery leader Frederick Douglas stated: “Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never did and it never will.”

 ¡Sí Se Puede!

Ron Russell, Rachel Mendoza-Newton, Ted Farrell and Duffy Trager of the Russell Immigration Law Firm