Can an Immigration Lawyer Represent Me from Anywhere in the United States?

Yes, they can. That’s a difference between immigration lawyers and other attorneys: Immigration law is Federal in scope and so immigration attorneys can practice nationally.

If you’re in the deportation process already, it is more akin to a criminal proceeding than to the purely administrative process where people are applying for their green cards or naturalization. Because it is like a criminal proceeding, generally it is in the best interest of the client to find an attorney who has the ability to appear with you in court, not only because it’s important that the attorney be with them in court.

It is advantageous because part of the preparation of all of their defenses to removal requires a lot of local legwork, such as building witness testimony, meeting with family members, providing document review, whatever is needed to show the positive equities of your case. Your attorney may need to work with those people who will need to attend the hearing in San Francisco versus Texas.

Is it better to select a local attorney who is familiar with the local immigration court system?

Yes, there may definitely be some benefit to having an attorney who is familiar with local rules in many situations but not in all situations.

Whether it be criminal proceedings or civil proceedings, it is always best to have the person be familiar with the local office. They are familiar with that office’s priorities. For example, a judge or ICE attorney in one office may have a difference of opinions on how the laws are interpreted.

Learn more about Philip Levin & Associates.

Comments Off on Can an Immigration Lawyer Represent Me from Anywhere in the United States?

A Summary of President Trump’s Executive Orders of January 27, 2017

On January 27, 2017 President Trump issued the following three executive orders:

Executive Order Number One

Executive Order Number One was a border security and immigration enforcement improvement executive order which authorized the wall along the Mexican border with the U.S., authorised construction and staffing of numerous detention facilities, expanded the expedited removal program, and ended “catch and release”, authorized conducting removal proceedings in Mexico and Canada, restricted the use of parole authority for removable individuals which will obviously impact people with DACA relief and authorized criminal prosecution of unlawful entries, not just re-entries but initial unlawful entry. The Executive Order seeks to enhance the public safety initially by getting rid of the three tiers determining who is a top priority for removal. This order now makes everybody, every undocumented immigrant, a top priority regardless of whether he or she is a criminal or how long they have been here, reinstates the Secure Communities Program and expands the 287(g) program which allowed state and local law enforcement officers to work, essentially, as ICE agents and promulgates a rule that there will be a new regulations to collect fines and penalties for people who are not only unlawfully present, but (apparently) those who they’ve lived with, who are “facilitating” their presence.

Executive Order Number Two

Executive Order Number Two authorizes the hiring of 5000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 new ICE agents, denies federal funding to sanctuary cities and requires federal agencies like IRS and Social Security to share data on unauthorised immigrants with DHS, and rearranges the enforcement priorities to include any person who has no lawful status. Lastly, it removes Privacy Act protections for every one other than U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Executive Order Number Three has garnered the most attention: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorism. That Executive Order did the following: It suspended all refugee resettlement for 120 days, even those who have completed all screening and vetting steps and requires “extreme vetting”; it’s unclear exactly what that means. It also reduces the annual quota of refugees by more than half, to 50 000, and allows DHS to give the states involvement in refugee placement, which of course certain states have claimed to already have, and gets rid of all the exemptions for what are called TRIG, or Terror Related Inadmissibility Grounds.

This new Executive Order places an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees, there’s a 90 day ban, that has been successfully or partially-successfully challenged in the courts on entry into the U.S. by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. On any visa or immigrant visa or green card or advance parole, and the ban will not expire if those countries refuse to accept people back from the U.S.

Apparently, the ban does not apply to naturalized U.S. citizens, or citizens from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, or citizens of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey and other Muslim majority countries. The Executive Order cancelled the Visa Interview Waiver Program for repeat applicants issued the same type of visa before at the same consular post, and directed the development of standard procedures to screen all immigration benefits to identify fraud or the intent to do harm, and evaluate the likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and someone who has the ability to make contributions to the national interest, these are fairly undefined terms seemingly cribbed from other parts of immigration law.

Executive Order Number Three

Lastly, Executive Order Number Three expedites implementation of a biometric entry/exit system in an effort to keep track of people coming into the U.S., specifically as non-immigrant visitors. Despite the Order suspending entry of the citizens of the 7 Muslim countries for 90 days, green card holders and dual citizens were eventually allowed to enter, so people who have green cards from those countries and dual citizens, that is those with citizenship from one of the 7 countries but from another country as well, are able to come in. Subsequently, the travel ban was temporarily restrained by a District Court judge in Seattle, Washington, a decision later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s obvious, however, that the administration would like refugee applications and the approval process somehow impacted here.

I guess if we know anything now, it is that if you have a valid passport that is not from one of the 7 countries and you have a valid visa, you should be admitted, regardless of where you were born; so even if you were born in one of those 7 countries but you have a passport from another county, i.e., even if you are not a dual national but you are just a national or citizen of another country you should be able to enter the U.S. Lawful permanent residents, people with Green Cards even if born in one of those 7 countries and even if they have a claim to citizenship regarding one of those countries, are admissible.

It is clear that CBP officers are looking through people’s passports, even people entering on ESTA, that is, the visa waiver program. They are searching their passports for stamps into one of the 7 countries as a pre-emptive measure but it is unclear how that is impacting travellers; apparently, they are still being allowed to enter even if they have visited one of the 7 countries but they may be questioned about their prior travels there.

Learn more about Philip Levin & Associates.

Comments Off on A Summary of President Trump’s Executive Orders of January 27, 2017

Do I Need to Have a Lawyer at my Master Calendar Hearing?

You should have a lawyer at your Master Calendar Hearing.   In fact, if you do not, the judge is instructed to ask if you would like to be represented and to allow for one, two, sometimes three continuances to let you to find a lawyer.

For the purposes of keeping my legal fees as low as possible, should my immigration lawyer be located in San Francisco?

If that is where your court is, it’s advisable but not necessary.  People who are comfortable with a lawyer and feel he or she will do the job may prefer to have that lawyer represent them no matter that attorney is located.

If my immigration lawyer is in another state and my Master Calendar Hearing is in San Francisco, how will the lawyer represent me?

You are generally assigned to the court based on where you live, and if you are assigned to San Francisco because you live here, the attorney in another state would have to travel to San Francisco unless he or she was granted the ability to make telephonic appearances.

Read more about Master Calendar Hearing Locations.

Comments Off on Do I Need to Have a Lawyer at my Master Calendar Hearing?

Master Calendar Hearings – Locations

Master Calendar Hearings on deportation issues can be set wherever there is an Immigration Court. There is not one in every major city. For example, Sacramento doesn’t have an Immigration Court, nor does Fresno.  In these cases the applicant would have to go to the court that covers their jurisdiction.

San Francisco is the only city in Northern California that has an Immigration Court. Anyone who faces a master calendar hearing in the Bay Area will be going to San Francisco.

Do I need have a lawyer at my Master Calendar Hearing?

Comments Off on Master Calendar Hearings – Locations

Prosecutorial Discretion and “Tiers”

There is some discretion given to the DHS attorneys when it comes to the deportation process. If they look at the Notice To Appear and feel that there is really not a whole lot that they can do, they can dismiss the NTA using prosecutorial discretion. In effect, they are saying “We’re not going to really go after this person. Let’s just put him off to the side…we’ve got bigger fish to fry.” Then, through the use of PD, the person is taken out of the Immigration Court system.

If the Trial Attorneys don’t do that, it has to be an affirmative application from the applicant or the applicant’s attorney to ask the DHS attorney why this client is here and present the reasons for his presence, the positive factors on his side, and why he should be granted Prosecutorial Discretion in front of the IJ. Then, if the ICE attorneys agree, it is presented to the judge for approval.

“Tier 4” is just taken from a memo issued by the Office of the Chief Consul; the group that supervises all of the Trial Attorneys across the country, asking that each office prioritize those people who they are going after.

No one in court mentions what tier the person is in. Judges are never told that someone is a Tier 3 – the allegations against the person are what they are. Sometimes things will come up in court that will show that the person is a much less desirable citizen than they had initially appeared to be because, suddenly, the ICE attorney will present a number of criminal conviction documents. Generally, it is within the discretion of the IJ whether to allow someone to remain despite a criminal conviction.

On the other hand, sometimes someone is an aggravated felon, or they have committed domestic violence, for example, and there is no waiver for that level of criminal depravity. Under these circumstances, the judge has no choice but to order the person removed.

In Immigration Court, a lot of the legal arguments that take place aren’t that the alien is or isn’t convicted of a serious crime. The technical jousting that goes on between the lawyers is whether or not the crime that the person is convicted of, given the wording of the state statute, qualifies as an aggravated felony or as a crime involving moral turpitude. Those are the cases that the U.S Supreme Court has been deciding and weighing in on over the last 4 or 5 years.

Learn more about Philip Levin & Associates.

Comments Off on Prosecutorial Discretion and “Tiers”