The Ineptitude and Disorganization of the Trump Administration Leads to a Win for DACA Recipients.

2021-03-05 in Helpful Tips
Review of the federal district court decision today, December 8, 2020, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 18, 2020, demonstrate that, even though the Trump Administration likely had the authority to rescind DACA, through plain ineptitude failed to accomplish its policy of curtailing immigration to the United States. It’s first mistake was to fail to state adequate reasons under the Administrative Procedure Act for the rescission; then, afterwards, due to a revolving door of secretaries for the Department of Homeland Security, failed to lawfully appoint its secretary to issue a new decision rescinding DACA.
December 8, 2020 – Today
A New York Federal Judge, entered an order requiring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to re-instate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
A short review of the history of the litigation is that first, back in 2017, then Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, did not adequately set forth her reasons for terminating the DACA program, contrary to administrative law and procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 18, 2020 that this was “arbitrary and capricious.” In July, 2020, then Acting Secretary Chad Wolf issued a memorandum rescinding DACA in compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s order. However, the Federal District Court today ruled that Secretary Wolf never had authority to issue the memorandum in the first place because he was never appointed as required by administrative law. The Government Accountability Office made a finding that upon Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation in 2019 the Acting Secretary after her was never designated according to the “rules of succession” and because the wrong official assumed the role of Acting Secretary after her, all subsequent appointments were invalid. There have been an unprecedented number of acting secretaries appointed to the Department of Homeland Security since Trump removed Obama’s appointee, Jeh Johnson, on January 17, 2017, totaling five (5).

DACA 2020 Applications Now Open

2021-03-05 in Helpful Tips
USCIS announced on December 7, 2020 that it is accepting DACA applications again. Call 312-704-8000 for a free consultation with Chicago Immigration Advocates to ensure you meet the requirements. We can file your application promptly.

Basic DACA Requirements

You need to meet the following main requirements for DACA in 2020: (1) you entered the United States prior to your 16th birthday, (2) you were born on or after June 16, 1981, and (3) you completed high school. If you did not complete high school, you must have a GED equivalent degree or currently be enrolled in a GED program. Also, you cannot have serious criminal convictions, such as a felony or three or more misdemeanors. The government filing fee is $495.
Besides some of the more basic requirements for DACA stated above, you must have resided in the United States since June 15, 2007. You also must have been present in the United States on June 15, 2012. Lastly, you must have not had legal status on June 15, 2012. For example, this means that you were not a legal permanent resident at the time and since lost your status.

Benefits of DACA 2020

DACA provides relief from removal (if in immigration proceedings) and work authorization. DACA also permits you to leave the U.S. on advance parole if there is an emergency situation in your home country. Work authorization entitles a DACA recipient to apply for a social security number. When you obtain a social security number, you can work legally, apply to enroll in school, apply for loans, etc.

Impact of Criminal Convictions

An arrest is not a negative factor unless you were convicted. If you have any criminal convictions, however, it is advisable to speak with us to ensure you meet the criminal requirements for DACA.

Call Now or Use Our New Booking Feature

We will discuss any your options you may have. Call 312-704-8000 now to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Nueva Ley de Marijuana en Illinois

2020-02-21 in Helpful Tips

Nueva Ley en Illinois Ofrece la Opportunidad a los Inmigrantes Anular Cualquier Condenas que Tengan por Marijuana.

En Illinois, a partir del 1 de Enero de 2020, el uso recreativo de la marihuana se convierte legal. Sin embargo, según las leyes Federales de Inmigración, su uso sigue estando prohibido. A pesar de que la ley de Illinois no proporciona expresamente alivio para los no ciudadanos, una disposición relativamente no mencionada proporciona un beneficio notable para aquellos no ciudadanos que tienen antecedentes penales de descalificación por marihuana. Este breve artículo de blog discutirá, en primer lugar, cuáles son los requisitos en la búsqueda de cualquier beneficio, como la residencia legal permanente o la Ciudadania e Inmigración de los Estados Unidos (“USCIS”) en relación con el uso de marihuana y, en segundo lugar, cómo la nueva ley de Illinois abre la puerta para anular todas las condenas por inhabilitación a la marihuana, ya sea por posesión o entrega.

     Leyes federales pertinentes sobre la posesión de marihuana. Según la ley federal, la posesión de marihuana sigue siendo ilegal. Bajo el Título 21, Capítulo 841, el estatuto federal simplemente establece lo siguiente:

(a) Actos ilícitos

Excepto segun lo autorizado por este subcapítulo, será ilegal para cualquier persona adrede  o intencionalmente:

(1) fabricar, distribuir o dispensar, o poseer con la intención de fabricar, distribuir o dispensar, una sustancia controlada;

(21 U.S.C.§841) (West, 2019). La marihuana, o “cannabis”, se considera una “sustancia controlada” según el anexo I de la Ley. 21 C.F.R. 1308.11 (d) (23).

Según la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad (“INA”), la posesión de marihuana es un delito descalificador para quienes buscan la residencia permanente y para quienes buscan la ciudadania. Para aquellos que buscan la residencia permanente, no solo una condena, sino también cualquier “admisión” al uso de marihuana podría resultar en una negación. Del mismo modo, para aquellos que buscan la ciudadania, no solo una convicción, sino también cualquier “admisión” podría dar lugar a que se les niegue la ciudadania por no tener un “buen carácter moral” en virtud del INA.

Legalización de la posesión de marihuana, Nueva Ley de Illinois P.A. 101-27 (ef. 6-25-19). Los fiscales de Illinois no hacen una distinción entre aquellos que son ciudadanos y no ciudadanos y por lo tanto, es poco probable que alguien, ya sea ciudadano o no, reciba una “condena” por posesión de marihuana en Illinois siempre que sea menor de 30 gramos para los residentes de Illinois, y menos de 15 gramos para los no residentes de Illinois. También vale la pena señalar que no todo uso de marihuana es legal: (a) no se debe fumar en público, (b) si se transporta en un vehículo, debe ser inaccesible durante el transporte, es decir, en el maletero y en un contenedor sellado, y (c) uno no puede estar bajo la influencia mientras conduce.

El problema para los no ciudadanos es que, por cualquier arresto, USCIS muchas veces solicita una copia del informe policial, incluso si no hubo condena. El USCIS puede requerir una explicación de lo que sucedió durante el arresto, generalmente buscando pistas sobre si hubo violencia, drogas o armas. Si USCIS ve en el informe policial que la marihuana estaba involucrada y, en la entrevista, el no ciudadano admite al oficial de USCIS el uso de la marihuana, aunque nunca fue acusado y condenado por ello, sería una base para negar el alivio y, depende de las circunstancias, pongan al no ciudadano en un proceso de deportación. Por lo tanto, es aconsejable contratar un abogado para cualquier solicitud de residencia permanente o naturalización cuando haya un arresto por marihuana, a pesar del cambio reciente en la ley de Illinois.

Es hora de comenzar los procedimientos posteriores a la condena, P.A. 101-27. Bajo la nueva ley de Illinois, aquellos con condenas por posesión de marihuana por posesión bajo la Sección 4 o la Sección 5 de la Ley de Control de Cannabis, pueden intentar desalojar sus condenas, aparentemente independientemente de la fecha de la condena. La ley establece muy simplemente:

Cualquier persona puede presentar una moción para desalojar y eliminar una condena por un delito menor o una violación de clase 4 grave de la Sección 4 o la Sección 5 de la Ley de Control de Cannabis.                                                                                                             

20 ILCS 2630 / 5.2 (i) (3). P.A. 101-27. Esta disposición no solo permite la anulacion de las condenas por posesión, sino también las condenas por entrega bajo la Sección 5 de la Ley de Control de Cannabis. Es importante que los no ciudadanos comprendan que la eliminación de antecedentes penales es insuficiente según la ley federal de inmigración: se requiere una anulacion completa de la condena que cumpla con los requisitos de la Junta de Apelaciones de Inmigración para borrar por completo cualquier condena, incluidas las condenas por sustancias controladas por marihuana posesión y / o entrega. A pesar de la dificultad para cumplir con estos requisitos, el requisito más difícil que hemos encontrado es que la persona ha permitido que pasen más de tres (3) años a partir de la fecha de la condena, lo que somete la petición a un despido inmediato en el tribunal penal. Ahora, sin embargo, la nueva ley de legalización de Illinois ha comenzado nuevamente para que los jueces criminales revisen y anulen estas condenas. Si usted es un no ciudadano que tiene una condena por posesión o entrega de marihuana en su pasado, ahora es el momento de consultar con un abogado si puede calificar para desestimar la condena y proceder a solicitar la residencia permanente o la ciudadania con USCIS. Dependiendo de sus circunstancias, es posible que tenga poco tiempo para hacerlo, pero en la mayoría de los casos serían unos 2 años, hasta finales de 2021.

Luật mới 2020 về hợp pháp hóa cần sa của Illinois Khởi động lại Đồng hồ để xóa bỏ những kết án cho cả việc chiếm hữu và giao cần sa

2020-01-02 in Helpful Tips

Tại Illinois, bắt đầu từ ngày 1 tháng 1 năm 2020, việc sử dụng cần sa giải trí trở thành hợp pháp.  Theo luật nhập cư Liên bang, tuy nhiên, việc sử dụng nó vẫn bị cấm.  Mặc dù luật Illinois không cung cấp cứu trợ rõ ràng cho những người không phải là công dân, nhưng một điều khoản tương đối không được đề cập mang lại lợi ích đáng chú ý cho những người không phải là công dân không đủ tiêu chuẩn trong việc kết án cần sa.  Bài viết trên blog ngắn này sẽ thảo luận, trước tiên, những cạm bẫy trong việc tìm kiếm bất kỳ lợi ích nào như thường trú hợp pháp hoặc nhập tịch từ Dịch vụ Di trú và Nhập tịch Hoa Kỳ (Biệt USCIS,) liên quan đến việc sử dụng cần sa và thứ hai, làm thế nào để Illinois mới  luật pháp mở ra cánh cửa để bỏ trống tất cả các bản án cần sa không đủ tiêu chuẩn, cho dù là sở hữu hay giao hàng.

      Luật liên bang liên quan liên quan đến sở hữu cần sa.  Theo luật liên bang, việc sở hữu cần sa vẫn là bất hợp pháp.  Theo Tiêu đề 21, Chương 841, đạo luật liên bang chỉ đơn giản cung cấp như sau:

 (a) Hành vi trái pháp luật

 Trừ khi được ủy quyền bởi chương trình con này, sẽ là bất hợp pháp đối với bất kỳ người nào cố ý hoặc cố ý

 (1) để sản xuất, phân phối hoặc phân phối hoặc sở hữu với mục đích sản xuất, phân phối hoặc phân phối một chất được kiểm soát;

 (21 Hoa Kỳ §841) (Tây, 2019).  Cần sa hay còn gọi là cần sa, tầm vông, được coi là một chất được kiểm soát bởi người Bỉ theo lịch trình I của Đạo luật.  21 C.F.R.  1308.11 (d) (23).

 Theo Đạo luật Di trú và Quốc tịch (NĂM INA), sở hữu cần sa là hành vi phạm tội không đủ tiêu chuẩn đối với những người tìm kiếm thường trú cũng như những người tìm cách nhập tịch.  Đối với những người tìm kiếm nơi cư trú vĩnh viễn, không chỉ một lời kết án, mà bất kỳ sự thừa nhận nào của việc sử dụng cần sa có thể dẫn đến việc từ chối.  Tương tự như vậy, đối với những người tìm kiếm nhập tịch, không chỉ là một niềm tin, mà còn bất kỳ sự thừa nhận nào của Cameron, có thể dẫn đến việc bị từ chối nhập tịch vì không thể có được tính cách đạo đức tốt của anh ấy trong INA.

 Hợp pháp hóa sở hữu cần sa, Luật New Illinois P.A.  101-27 (hiệu 6-25-19).  Các công tố viên ở Illinois không phân biệt giữa những người là công dân và không phải là công dân và, do đó, không có khả năng bất kỳ ai, dù là công dân hay không, sẽ nhận được một bản án kết án vì tội sở hữu cần sa ở Illinois miễn là ít hơn  hơn 30 gram cho cư dân Illinois và dưới 15 gram cho người không cư trú tại Illinois.  Cũng cần lưu ý rằng không phải tất cả việc sử dụng cần sa là hợp pháp: (a) không được hút thuốc ở nơi công cộng, (b) nếu vận chuyển nó trong một chiếc xe, nó không thể tiếp cận được trong quá trình vận chuyển, tức là trong cốp xe và trong  một thùng chứa kín, và (c) người ta không thể chịu ảnh hưởng trong khi lái xe.

 Vấn đề đối với những người không phải là công dân là đối với bất kỳ vụ bắt giữ USCIS nào, nhiều lần yêu cầu một bản sao của báo cáo của cảnh sát ngay cả khi không có kết án.  USCIS có thể yêu cầu một lời giải thích về những gì đã xảy ra trong vụ bắt giữ, thường tìm kiếm bất kỳ manh mối nào cho dù có bất kỳ bạo lực, ma túy hoặc vũ khí nào.  Nếu USCIS thấy trong báo cáo của cảnh sát rằng cần sa có liên quan và, tại cuộc phỏng vấn, người không công dân thừa nhận với cảnh sát USCIS đã sử dụng cần sa, mặc dù không bao giờ bị buộc tội và kết án về nó, đó sẽ là cơ sở để từ chối cứu trợ và, tùy thuộc vào  các trường hợp, đặt người không công dân vào thủ tục loại bỏ.  Vì vậy, nên giữ lại tư vấn cho bất kỳ đơn xin thường trú hoặc nhập tịch vĩnh viễn khi có bất kỳ vụ bắt giữ cần sa nào, bất chấp sự thay đổi gần đây trong luật của Illinois.

 Thời gian để bắt đầu thủ tục sau khi kết án, P.A.  101-27.  Theo luật mới của Illinois, những người có tiền án cần sa để chiếm hữu theo Mục 4 hoặc Mục 5 của Đạo luật Kiểm soát Cần sa, có thể tìm cách bỏ qua các bản án của họ, bất kể ngày bị kết án.  Luật pháp quy định rất đơn giản:

 Bất kỳ cá nhân nào cũng có thể nộp đơn yêu cầu bỏ trống và hủy bỏ một bản án kết tội cho tội nhẹ hoặc vi phạm trọng tội loại 4 của Mục 4 hoặc Mục 5 của Đạo luật kiểm soát cần sa.

 20 ILCS 2630 / 5.2 (i) (3).  P.A.  101-27.  Quy định này không chỉ cho phép bỏ trống các bản án chiếm hữu, mà còn kết án giao hàng theo Mục 5 của Đạo luật Kiểm soát Cần sa.  Điều quan trọng là những người không phải là công dân phải hiểu rằng việc gia hạn đơn thuần là không đủ theo luật di trú Liên bang – một chỗ trống hoàn toàn của bản án, đáp ứng các yêu cầu theo luật án lệ của Hội đồng Di trú được yêu cầu để xóa hoàn toàn bất kỳ kết án nào, kể cả việc kết án chất bị kiểm soát đối với cần sa  sở hữu và / hoặc giao hàng.  Mặc dù khó khăn trong việc đáp ứng các yêu cầu này, nhưng yêu cầu khó khăn nhất mà chúng tôi gặp phải là người đó đã cho phép hơn ba (3) năm kể từ ngày kết án, trong đó có yêu cầu bãi nhiệm ngay lập tức tại tòa án hình sự.  Tuy nhiên, bây giờ, luật hợp pháp hóa mới của Illinois đã bắt đầu lại đồng hồ để các thẩm phán hình sự xem xét và bỏ trống các bản án này.  Nếu bạn là một người không phải là công dân có tiền án về việc sở hữu hoặc cung cấp cần sa trong lý lịch của bạn, bây giờ là thời gian để thảo luận với tư vấn liệu bạn có thể đủ điều kiện để bỏ qua bản án và tiến hành yêu cầu thường trú hoặc nhập tịch với USCIS.  Tùy thuộc vào hoàn cảnh của bạn, bạn có thể có một thời gian rất ngắn để làm như vậy, nhưng trong hầu hết các trường hợp sẽ là khoảng 2 năm, cho đến cuối năm 2021.

 

Nếu bạn muốn tìm hiểu thêm, vui lòng sắp xếp một cuộc hẹn với một trong các luật sư của chúng tôi bằng cách liên hệ với trợ lý pháp lý của chúng tôi, Patty Lưu tại số 312-704-8151.

Illinois Marijuana Law Helps Non-Citizens

2020-01-01 in Helpful Tips

In Illinois, starting January 1, 2020, the recreational use of marijuana becomes legal. Under Federal immigration laws, however, its use remains prohibited. Even though the Illinois law does not expressly provide relief for non-citizens, a relatively unmentioned provision provides a notable benefit to those non-citizens who have disqualifying marijuana convictions in their backgrounds. This short blog article will discuss, first, what the pitfalls are in seeking any benefit such as legal permanent residency or naturalization from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) in relation to use of marijuana and, second, how the new Illinois law opens the door to vacate all disqualifying marijuana convictions, whether for possession or delivery.

     Pertinent Federal laws regarding possession of Marijuana. Under federal law the possession of marijuana remains illegal. Under Title 21, Chapter 841, the federal statute simply provides as follows:

(a) Unlawful acts
Except as authorized by this subchapter, it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally—
(1) to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance;

(21 U.S.C. §841) (West, 2019). Marijuana, or “cannabis,” is considered a “controlled substance” under schedule I of the Act. 21 C.F.R. 1308.11(d)(23).

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), possession of marijuana is a disqualifying offense for those who seek permanent residency as well as those who seek naturalization. For those seeking permanent residency, not only a conviction, but also any “admission” to using marijuana could result in a denial. Likewise, for those seeking naturalization, not only a conviction, but also any “admission” could result in being denied naturalization as a failure to have “good moral character” under the INA.

Legalization of Possession of Marijuana, New Illinois Law P.A. 101-27 (eff. 6-25-19). Illinois prosecutors do not make a distinction between those who are citizens and non-citizens and, therefore, it is unlikely that anyone, whether a citizen or not, will receive a “conviction” for possession of marijuana in Illinois so long as it is less than 30 grams for Illinois residents, and less than 15 grams for non-residents of Illinois. It is also worth noting that not all use of marijuana is legal: (a) it must not be smoked in public, (b) if transporting it in a vehicle, it must be inaccessible during transport, i.e., in the trunk, and in a sealed container, and (c) one cannot be under the influence while driving.

The problem for non-citizens is that for any arrest USCIS many times requests a copy of the police report even if there was no conviction. USCIS may require an explanation of what happened during the arrest, usually looking for any clues for whether any violence, drugs, or weapons were involved. If USCIS sees in the police report that marijuana was involved and, at the interview, the non-citizen admits to the USCIS officer having used marijuana, although never charged and convicted for it, it would be a basis to deny relief and, depending upon the circumstances, place the non-citizen into removal proceedings. Thus, it is advisable to retain counsel for any applications for permanent residency or naturalization when there is any arrest for marijuana, despite the recent change in Illinois law.

Time to Commence Post-Conviction Proceedings, P.A. 101-27. Under the new Illinois law, those with marijuana convictions for possession under Section 4 or Section 5 of the Cannabis Control Act, may seek to vacate their convictions, apparently regardless of the date of conviction. The law states very simply:

Any individual may file a motion to vacate and expunge a conviction for a misdemeanor or Class 4 felony violation of Section 4 or Section 5 of the Cannabis Control Act.

20 ILCS 2630/5.2(i)(3). P.A. 101-27. This provision not only allows for the vacature of possession convictions, but also convictions for delivery under Section 5 of the Cannabis Control Act. It is important for non-citizens to understand that mere expungement is insufficient under Federal immigration law – a complete vacature of the conviction, meeting the requirements under Board of Immigration Appeals case law is required to completely erase any conviction, including controlled substance convictions for marijuana possession and/or delivery. Despite the difficulty in meeting these requirements, the most difficult requirement we have encountered is that the person has allowed more than three (3) years to pass from the date of conviction, which subjects the petition to immediate dismissal in the criminal court. Now, however, the new Illinois legalization law has commenced the clock again for criminal judges to review and vacate these convictions. If you are a non-citizen who has a conviction for marijuana possession or delivery in your background, now is the time to discuss with counsel whether you may qualify to vacate the conviction and proceed to ask for either permanent residency or naturalization with USCIS. Depending upon your circumstances, you may have a very short time to do so, but in most cases it would be about 2 years, until the end of 2021.

Deferred Action (“DACA”) and Adjustment of Status

2017-08-09 in Helpful Tips

November 18, 2015.  Several people we have spoken to over the last few weeks have inquired concerning their eligibility for Adjustment of Status based upon marriage to a U.S. Citizen if they have received Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (“DACA”). It has been widely discussed that DACA was not meant to be a “path to citizenship.” In some instances, however, it might be, but it is our interpretation that it is limited to those with particular circumstances.

We will start out discussing some concepts in immigration law. First, “Adjustment of Status” is the term for receiving legal permanent residence within the borders of the U.S. In order to be eligible for Adjustment of Status, the person must enter the U.S. legally, i.e., with inspection by a border officer. This is in distinction to “consular processing” where a person obtains legal permanent residency through an immigrant visa obtained outside the U.S. Those who entered without inspection are required to leave the U.S. in order to obtain an immigrant visa and are subject to a 10 year bar when they leave because they have been in the U.S. illegally for over 1 year (a waiver or the “provisional” waiver forgives this illegal presence; if someone elects to do consular processing by the use of the provisional waiver, they need not leave the U.S. for more than a day or two.) The issuance of DACA, in and of itself, is not an admission that can be used for adjustment of status and, therefore, consular processing with either a regular waiver or provisional waiver is a very good option if they have a U.S. citizen spouse. It is important to keep in mind that DACA is merely a directive from the President which permits those who meet its requirements to remain here with work authorization so that they can further their education as well as work, despite having entered illegally and was carefully crafted so as not to confer any status.

Therefore, as discussed above, people with an illegal entry in most instances cannot adjust status. One exception to the legal entry requirement, however, is the amnesty of 2001 where if someone filed an application for an applicant prior to April 30, 2001, they need only pay a $1,000 penalty and they can adjust status despite having entered the U.S. illegally. Therefore, this discussion applies to DACA recipients who (a) entered illegally; (b) are married to a U.S. citizen; (c) never had a work or family petition filed for them or a parent prior to April 30, 2001, and (d) after being here for their first year, did not leave and return to the U.S.

In order for DACA recipients to be eligible to adjust status, they must have obtained “advance parole” to leave the U.S. and, in fact, left the U.S. and returned. Advance parole is a process by which USCIS gives a person permission to re-enter the U.S. for specific reasons. And the entry upon returning creates the “admission” which is required for adjustment of status. USCIS will grant advance parole to people, however, only in limited circumstances enumerated on the website, including humanitarian reasons, i.e., visiting a sick relative, educational purposes, i.e., study-abroad program, or employment purposes, i.e., work conferences. See http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-process/frequently-asked-questions.

After the 2012 Board of Immigration Appeals decision, Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 221, the Department of Homeland Security expressed its intent to adopt the rule that leaving the country pursuant to a grant of Advance Parole is not considered a “departure” which triggers the 3- and 10-year bar to re-entry. See, Memo, Jeh Johnson, Secretary, U.S. Dept. Of Homeland Security, “Directive to Provide Consistency Regarding Advance Parole” (Nov. 20, 2014). Therefore, DACA recipients who are granted parole into the U.S. after their travel abroad, who are beneficiaries of a visa petition, and a visa is immediately available, i.e., a U.S. citizen spouse petitioned for them, should be eligible to apply for residency while remaining in the U.S. without having to deal with this particular “bar” under the Immigration Act.

Conclusion.  It is our opinion that DACA recipients should use the advance parole process carefully. First, there must be a legitimate reason for requesting permission to leave the U.S. and not merely the intent to qualify for adjustment of status. Most importantly, it must be supported by sufficient documentation. Secondly, a person should not seek to use advance parole if he or she left and returned to the U.S. after having originally entered, i.e., you came to the U.S. twice or more. The reason for this is that the person could trigger a different and more strict 10 year bar (different from the one mentioned above) for having illegally remained in the U.S. for more than one year and then left and re-entered or attempted to re-enter. It is our experience that, even in this circumstance, USCIS may still issue an advance parole document and when you attempt to enter on it, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“USCBP”), will deny entry for having violated this provision. It seems to make sense that USCIS would not issue the document if you are not entitled to return, but that is not the case.

It is important to note that most DACA recipients who are married to U.S. citizens also qualify for the provisional waiver and that should be considered as a good alternative if there are not legitimate reasons to leave the U.S.  Further, there may be questions from either USCIS or USCBP concerning one’s marital status.  If it is disclosed that one is married to a U.S. citizen, it is likely that the request for advance parole will be scrutinized carefully and, perhaps, denied. And, further, once the advance parole is granted by USCIS, you will also be scrutinized by USCBP upon entry, which has discretion to deny entry. It is possible that USCBP officers could inquire one’s intention to marry after entering the U.S. or whether one intends to adjust status after entering if already married, in which case, could form the basis for a denial of entry. We believe, therefore, that if one is married to a U.S. citizen and is a DACA recipient, one’s reasons for leaving the U.S. under advanced parole must be strong, along with sufficient supporting documentation. Further, if one is not yet married, one should refrain from marrying until after having left and returned on advance parole. In either case, if one’s reasons for leaving are weak, then either USCIS or USCBP will suspect an intent to avoid the immigration laws and will either deny the advance parole request or, worse, deny entry at the border once you have left.

Immigration Consequences of Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”)

2017-08-09 in Helpful Tips

Driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”) convictions have varying degrees of severity for the non-citizen, depending upon the non-citizen’s status in the United States. There are four categories of non-citizens for purposes of considering the effects of a DUI conviction. This article will discuss the consequences, first, for someone here who entered without inspection, i.e., “illegally,” or “without papers.” Second, it will discuss a conviction for those who have overstayed their visas and are thus considered to be “overstays.” In the third category are those who may qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”). And, fourth, there are those who have legal permanent residency status. At the end of this article we discuss the best course of action you can take to avoid a conviction for DUI.

Without Inspection. For these persons the consequences can be grave. It is our experience that as a result of a DUI, especially someone who lives in the areas outside of Chicago, a person can find him or herself before an Immigration Judge facing removal proceedings as a result of a DUI arrest. The mere occurrence of an arrest is enough in some jurisdictions to get the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“USICE”) who process the person to be placed in proceedings before an Immigration Judge, called “removal” proceedings. In Chicago, this is typically not the case unless the person gets a sentence of confinement to jail.

Many people who have been here for a long time, in particular over 10 years, can request “Cancellation of Removal for non-Legal Permanent Residents” before the Immigration Court if he or she can show they have a U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent who will suffer extreme and exceptional hardship if he or she is removed from the U.S. But a DUI conviction makes it very difficult to demonstrate the good moral character required before an Immigration Judge. In other words, an Immigration Judge is not likely going to take a risk that someone who has been caught drinking and driving will not stop doing so and, thus, will not continue put people’s lives in danger. A person in this situation, who has no status, may have a chance to get Cancellation of Removal if the DUI conviction is many years old and the hardship to the U.S. citizen is truly exceptional. Therefore, the lesson to learn here is that if you are in the U.S. without status you should do all that you can to contest the charges in order to get a finding of “not guilty” by the criminal judge or jury or have the case dismissed on a pretrial motion to suppress the arrest.

Many persons without inspection also qualify for the new “Provisional Waiver” program if he or she has a U.S. citizen wife or U.S. citizen son or daughter over 21 years of age to sponsor him or her. Again, a DUI conviction will make this process difficult if not impossible. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), which processes these waivers, will consider your conviction for a DUI disqualifying if it occurred in the last three years or permanently disqualifying if you have had more than one. USCIS and the U.S. Department of State (which processes the immigrant visas) will find such a person “inadmissible” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) as a “habitual drunkard.” Again, the lesson here is that if you have a chance at obtaining status in the U.S. through the Provisional Waiver program you should not accept a plea of guilty to a DUI charge unless you and your attorney are fully convinced that you would never succeed at trial. It has been our experience that many persons have come to us seeking assistance either in Immigration Court or with consular processing only to have their chances ruined by having unwisely pleading guilty to a DUI charge. Again, the lesson is to not have a conviction for DUI.

It has been our experience that a DUI conviction will also make your chances at obtaining “prosecutorial discrection” very difficult if not impossible. Under a new initiative by President Obama several years ago, he authorized the government attorneys to close removal cases if the circumstances of the case indicated that the non-citizen has ties to the United States, e.g., family, business, home, and has a clean criminal record. Although technically a DUI is only a misdemeanor offense, it is enough to become a bar to obtaining prosecutorial discretion. Again, the lesson is to fight a DUI charge if you have entered the U.S. without inspection.

Overstays. For someone who entered the U.S. legally, but has overstayed his or her visa, he or she would likely be placed in proceedings for being out of status if he or she came to the attention by USICE as a result of a DUI arrest. Since persons who entered legally may be sponsored by a U.S. citizen spouse or son or daughter over 21 years of age, in this situation, they do not have the same difficult burden of proof for good moral character as required for someone who entered illegally. For instance, if a U.S. citizen spouse petitions for him or her, a DUI conviction has little consequence in the adjustment proceeding. But, lacking such a sponsor, e.g., not married any longer, then the person would be required to seek Cancellation of Removal for non-Legal Permanent Residents and would face the same burden of proof as a person who entered without inspection as discussed above.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”). For a non-citizen who either entered without inspection or is an overstay, requesting DACA is always an option. The main requirements for DACA are that the non-citizen entered the U.S. prior to turning 16 years of age, was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and has at least a high school degree or GED. In addition, however, there are bars for criminal offenses. One of those is DUI, which is considered a “significant misdemeanor” barring the grant of DACA.

Legal Permanent Residents. For these persons, a conviction for DUI is really only an inconvenience if you have only one. A DUI conviction is not enough to warrant being placed in removal proceedings, unless there are other exacerbating circumstances, such as death, harm, or extensive property damage. A legal permanent resident can seek to be naturalized even with a DUI in his or her background and USCIS usually will grant Naturalization even if there is a recent DUI. At the same time, however, the grant of Naturalization is discretionary, so if the DUI is too recent, i.e., within the last year, or the person is still on probation or supervision, it is unlikely that the naturalization will be granted until that is completed. Further, if there is more than one DUI, the chances increase that the Naturalization will be denied if the application is within 5 years of the last conviction, but its not always the case if there are other positive factors. The period of time of having to fulfill the requirement for “good moral character” under the INA is 5 years. Thus, if you want to be certain that you will be granted Naturalization and you have more than one DUI, we recommend waiting out the 5 year period from the date of the order issuing the last DUI conviction.

What Can You Do if You Are Charged with DUI? The best course of action is to hire a good immigration attorney to give advice and guide you through the process if you are charged with a DUI, especially if you are not a legal permanent resident. We can recommend and work with good criminal defense lawyers who will be able to explain your chances of winning at trial after reviewing the evidence. There are a multitude of ways to contest a DUI charge, including contesting the accuracy of the breath test or blood test, the accuracy of the field tests, etc. Further, pursuant to our recommendations, the criminal defense attorney may also be able find a way to suppress the arrest for lack of a probable cause to arrest in the first place, e.g., you were not weaving, speeding, or doing anything wrong when you were pulled over.

Conclusion. It is our opinion that those without status, as opposed to those to are legal permanent residents, have too much to lose by improvidently pleading guilty to DUI cases. A plea should be avoided at all costs by hiring a good immigration attorney to work with a good reputable criminal defense lawyer.

We recognize that there is always the risk that by taking a case to trial, and losing, that a DUI defendant will face jail time and, by getting jail time, the defendant will then come to the attention of USICE. On the other hand, when a person pleas guilty and gets only probation the chances are better that it will not result in coming to the attention of USICE since there is no jail time involved. This is the way that prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys work to convince all defendants to plea guilty, i.e., by pointing out that jail time is possible or likely if you contest the case and lose. It is important to keep the following in mind: first, this is not always the case; it varies by jurisdiction and by judge and depends upon whether there is any previous criminal background. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to let you know what might happen in the event you lose after trial. And if the case is outside of Chicago it is likely that even before the DUI case is completed the person has already been placed in removal proceedings by USICE. Therefore, contesting the DUI case and getting jail time is of no consequence to being put in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge – the worst has already happened, the person has already come to the attention of USICE. Therefore, the lesson to learn here is that a person who has no status should not be afraid to contest their case to the fullest extent possible, especially if he or she was arrested outside of Chicago, where he or she likely has come to the attention of USICE already. And, if in Chicago, the person ought to find out from the criminal defense attorney what may happen if there were a finding of guilty after contesting the case.

For most people, preserving the ability to obtain legal status in the U.S. with all its benefits, both financial and emotional, is worth the risk of few days in jail and would have taken this risk had they known the grave adverse consequences of a DUI conviction.

Victory at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

2017-08-09 in Cases Won

On April 1, 2015, the attorneys at Chicago Immigration Advocates obtained a ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversing the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) and ordering that the Board review the case again in light of the errors committed by the Respondent’s previous two attorneys. Tie Xia Chen v. Holder, 782 F.3d 373 (7th Cir. 2015). The Respondent hired two attorneys for his trial hearing who committed a multitude of errors, including, mistranslating an affidavit, recommending the Respondent to get documents he could not obtain, failing correct the record regarding the birth date of his child, among other mistakes.

According to the Seventh Circuit, the Board committed error when it refused to properly review the errors committed by the previous attorneys. The Court said “[t]he Board should determine if Chen’s attorneys incompetently neglected to offer evidence and arguments that might have resolved the inconsistencies identified by the IJ.” Id. at 377. In its opinion the Seventh Circuit acknowledged the strength of our argument when it said “[i]n a detailed brief, Chen methodically argued that each inconsistency or deficiency identified by the IJ could be attributed to counsel’s incompetence.” Id.

The case has been remanded to the Board and we are still awaiting its ruling.

James C. Ten Broeck Jr., the principal attorney, along with his associate attorneys, first filed a Motion to Reopen with the Board, in which these errors were pointed out and requested that the Board send the matter back to the Immigration Court. As required by rule, two complaints were filed with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois (“ARDC”) against the ineffective attorneys.  When the Board denied the Motion, Chicago Immigration Advocates attorneys filed an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  After two rounds of briefing and oral argument, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the case should be reversed.

We are very happy for our client that we were able to get this hard-fought result. We are confident that our Client will have an opportunity to present his case again and, this time, have the opportunity to present all of his evidence in a favorable light.

President’s “Executive Action” – Advice on How to Proceed

2017-08-09 in Helpful Tips

We have some very basic advice concerning the new “Executive Action” since there is nothing to do right now, other than to begin to gather documentation.  The President’s announcement was only that, an “announcement.”  The controlling agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), needs to enact rules which control the process and documentation required.  There will be two steps, the first, for those covered under DACA, see below, the rules will be published sometime in February, 2015; the second, for those covered by DAPA, see below, the rules will be published in May, 2015.  You can expect that shortly thereafter USCIS will accept applications.

The most important thing you can do right now is begin to collect the following information we anticipate you will need in order to file:

– Collect records to show that you have lived in the U.S. such as employment records, leases, bank records, medical records, and/or school records.

– If you have ever been arrested, we suggest that you do an “FBI record check” as soon as possible to review your record.  Obtain certified dispositions for your arrests.  Collect your original birth certificates, for yourself and your children (if any), passports, marriage and divorce certificates, adoption records, or any other identification documents.

– Make sure your taxes are filed, paid, and accurate.  If you are married, your tax forms must state “married.”  Do not include non-qualifying dependents.

– If you have ever had any encounter with Immigration authorities, whether at the border or not, you should request a copy of your file from your attorney or file a “Freedom of Information Act” request with the government.

– Save up to pay the filing fee: $465 (estimated), plus mailing costs and attorneys’ fees if you will need the assistance of an attorney.

Many other sources have discussed the requirements.  We have summarized them as follows:

Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”)

1. Entered the U.S. before January 1, 2010;

2. Entered when 15 years of age or younger;

3. Continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;

4. Must be physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of the filing of the request;

5. In school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Services;

6. No serious criminal convictions.  Note: if you have any criminal convictions other than minor traffic offenses, e.g., speeding, stop sign, (DUI is serious), you must consult with an Immigration Attorney before applying.

Deferred Action for Parent Accountability (“DAPA”)

1. Have a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

2. Have continuously resided in the U.S. prior to January 1, 2010;

3. Must be physically present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014 and at the time of the filing of the request;

4. Not an enforcement priority, i.e., there are no serious criminal convictions (must consult with Immigration attorney)

Good for 3 years. $465 filing fee.  Will begin to accept applications May, 2015.

The President’s Executive Action also covers eligibility for the new provisional waiver program started in 2012 concerning those who must leave the U.S. in order to get their residency (i.e., Green Card).  It expands it to include those who are the spouses or children of Legal Permanent Residents, not only U.S. citizens.

If you wish to learn more about the basic requirements, you can go to the government’s own website at http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) in Matter of Abdelghany (February 28, 2014) Expands Application of §212(c) Waivers to a Greater Scope of “Aggravated Felonies”.

2017-08-09 in Helpful Tips

Prior to April 24, 1996, the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) provided a §212(c) waiver for certain serious criminal convictions known under the INA as “aggravated felonies.” This date is significant because Congress passed substantial changes to the INA at that time, including replacing the §212(c) waiver with “cancellation of removal,” a more restrictive form of relief. For many Legal Permanent Residents convicted of “aggravated felonies” prior to April 24, 1996 but who were put into removal proceedings after the change in the law, many were unable to seek the benefit of §212(c) because many courts interpreted it to be applicable only to those cases where the non-citizen pled guilty, not to those who went to trial and lost.

Until the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) recent decision in Matter of Abdelghany, 26 I.&N. Dec. 254, published on February 28, 2014, in most circuits, including the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, an alien was not eligible for a §212(c) waiver if he or she had contested the criminal case at trial and lost. Rather, the old rule under the INA stated that a Legal Permanent Resident was required to prove he pled guilty in order to qualify for the §212(c) waiver. In this precedent decision the BIA held that a legal permanent resident will be eligible for a waiver under §212(c) irrespective of whether the conviction was the result of a plea of guilty or a finding of guilty at trial.

In order to qualify for §212(c) relief, an alien must demonstrate that (1) he or she has unrelinquished domicile in the U.S. for 7 consecutive years prior to the filing of the application; (2) he or she has not served more than 5 years in prison for offenses committed after November 1, 1990; further, (3) he or she is not inadmissible on the basis of security grounds or international child abduction. Therefore, for those who would have been eligible for 212(c) relief, but were ordered removed from the United States because the criminal conviction was entered after losing at trial, there is now a chance to reopen their immigration cases.

Under typical circumstances, non-citizens may file one Motion to Reopen their removal proceedings not more than 90 days after the final order of removal from the Immigration Court or BIA. The Immigration Court or BIA also has the power, however, to reopen removal proceedings on its own motion, otherwise known as a sua sponte motion, past the 90 days. Non-citizens must ask the courts to exercise this power in a motion, and there is technically no time limit or deadline to do this. At the same time, however, the Immigration Court’s decision is wholly discretionary which means there is no actual right to have the case reopened and, consequently, there would be no appeal if the Immigration Court or the BIA declined to reopen the case. In a recent unpublished case titled Matter of Simmonds, the BIA exercised this power and reopened a non-citizen’s case after he had been ordered removed nearly 15 years ago based on this change in the law for §212(c) waivers.

Reopening is a bit risky – for the reasons explained above – but it may be worthwhile if it is important for the non-citizen to reclaim his or her legal permanent residency status in the United States. Here at Chicago Immigration Advocates we can file the motion to reopen, along with any ameliorative evidence, requesting that the BIA or Immigration Court exercise its sua sponte jurisdiction to reopen a case for an evidentiary hearing on the 212(c) waiver.