With Congress seemingly moving closer to passing comprehensive immigration reform, NPR recently ran a story on the lack of qualified immigration attorneys available to help the millions of immigrants who will need legal assistance under the new plan. In a previous post, I detailed some simple steps immigrants can take to prepare for immigration reform. In this post, I’ll talk more specifically about the need of immigrants for qualified and trustworthy legal counsel in applying for relief under the new legislation.
The NPR article highlights the problems many immigrants encounter in dealing with attorneys or non-attorneys who make grand promises with little to back them up. Hoping to make large profits, these individuals prey on the immigrant population. In the coming months, the possibility for fraud is higher than ever. Be wary of individuals who urge immigrants to hire them before reform even … Read More »
On April 23, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Moncrieffe v. Holder. Adrian Moncrieffe is a Jamaican national who came to the United States at the age of 3. During a 2007 traffic stop, police found 1.3 grams of marijuana in Mr. Moncrieffe’s car. This is roughly the amount of 2-3 marijuana cigarettes. In his Georgia criminal case, Mr. Moncrieffe agreed to a plea for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He received no jail time and was placed on probation. As a result of this conviction, Mr. Moncrieffe was placed in immigration proceedings ultimately resulting in his deportation. The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with the Immigration Judge and the 5th Circuit denied review. The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that his marijuana charge was improperly classified as an aggravated felony under … Read More »
Many immigration applications require an applicant to demonstrate extreme hardship. In light of the recent decision by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to allow hardship waiver processing in the U.S., this hardship determination is particularly important. Many immigrants and their loved ones often wonder, though, what is extreme hardship? Does my case rise to the level of “extreme”?
Before jumping into the relevant factors, it is helpful to consider who actually needs to suffer the extreme hardship in order to qualify. Here are some examples of the “qualifying relatives” for three common waivers:
Unlawful presence waiver – extreme hardship must be to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent;
212(h) waiver for certain crimes – extreme hardship must be to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter; and
212(i) waiver for misrepresentation/fraud – extreme hardship must be to … Read More »
On March 7, 2013 the President signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. VAWA lapsed at the end of 2011 and had faced difficulties passing Congress due to some expansions in the areas of protections for Native American and LGTB victims of violence. This was the first time since the bill was originally passed in 1994 that Congress had allowed it to expire. While the act itself had not been renewed, Congress had continued to fund VAWA’s programs to keep them going. VAWA serves to protect and aid victims of domestic violence, rape, and human trafficking. It also provides special protections for immigrant victims of violence, specifically U visas and allowing for self-petitioning.
U Visas. U visas are for those who are not in lawful immigrant status but who are victims of serious crimes by U.S. citizens. … Read More »
On February 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a much-awaited decision on the retroactivity of its March 2010 decision, Padilla v. Kentucky. As a reminder, under Padilla, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires a defense attorney to inform a non-citizen of the deportation risk of a guilty plea. In Chaidez v. United States, the Court held that Padilla is not retroactive. In other words, non-citizens cannot allege ineffective assistance of counsel for convictions finalized before the Padilla decision was issued in March 2010.
In my August 22, 2012 article Post Conviction Relief and Immigration Consequences, I summarized the then-current state of post-conviction relief in the U.S., focusing on Virginia in particular. Thousands of non-citizens found reason for hope after the Supreme Court issued its landmark Padilla decision. But then hope hung in the balance after … Read More »