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Articles Posted in Immigration Matters

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customs-300x199Immigration has been a major issue concerning President Donald Trump’s administration. Since Trump took office, the number of immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents has increased, and there have been reports that federal agents have arrested people in courthouses.

Los Angeles has long held that it will be a sanctuary city for immigrants. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti emphasized this stance recently by calling for further protections for immigrants in the city.

Deportation Reports Impacting LA

At an event at the Lincoln Heights Youth Center Complex in East Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti addressed alarming trends in the city. Garcetti noted that Los Angeles has seen fewer visitors at its city parks, libraries, art centers and senior centers recently. He believes the reason for this may be that families are staying home to avoid potential contact with law enforcement for fear of being deported.

There has also been a drop in the amount of reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence among the city’s Latino population, according to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. While these facts cannot directly be attributed to the actions of the Trump Administration, the decline has not been seen in other demographics.

City of LA Supporting Immigrants

To address the deportation fears that many have, Garcetti signed an executive order called “Standing with Immigrants: A City of Safety, Refuge, and Opportunity for All.” This order prevents port and airport officials from being deputized as federal immigration agents.

The order builds on current LAPD immigration enforcement policies where law enforcement officers cannot check the immigration status of individuals in custody. Current policies also state that individuals cannot be detained longer than warranted per the request of federal deportation agents without a court order. Continue reading →

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Illegal-Immigrants-300x145If you witness a crime being committed, you will likely call the police or inform nearby authorities. While doing this, you may also decide to walk away from the area because you don’t want to get caught up in the middle of it. Both of these actions are natural, but recent reports suggest that informing police about a crime is not something that is happening among a certain group of people.

Latinos Less Likely to Report Crimes in Los Angeles

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the amount of reports of sexual assaults, rape and domestic violence incidents has decreased among Los Angeles’ Latino population.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said rape reports have dropped 25 percent, while domestic violence reports have dropped by 10 percent. Between January 1 and March 18 of 2017, Latino victims have reported 123 sexual assaults compared to 164 reports in the same timeframe in 2016.

Reports of spousal abuse in that timeframe dropped from 1,210 in 2016 to 1,092 in 2017. According to Beck, this decline in reporting was not seen among any other ethnic groups.

So, does this mean that crime is significantly down? No, but there is one major reason that is likely contributing to the decline in police reports among Latinos.

Fear of Deportation Leading to Less Reports of Crime

“Imagine a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother not reporting a sexual assault because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Chief Beck said at a recent event.

Beck and the city of Los Angeles are attributing the decreasing number of police reports amongst Latinos to a fear of deportation. With recent reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are going into courthouses to detain immigrants, there is a growing sense of fear among the Latino population that interacting with law enforcement in any way could lead to deportation.

LA Mayor Signs Directive to Protect Immigrants

Los Angeles, like many cities in California, has a policy in place to prevent law enforcement officers from checking the immigration status of individuals in custody and from detaining these individuals longer than warranted without a court order under the request of federal deportation agents. Continue reading →

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Immigrants ArrestedThe Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) recently conducted a large-scale operation across the southern half of California, taking more than 240 immigrants into custody.1 According to officials, the vast majority had been previously convicted of felony or sexual abuse related crimes.2

The operation was in part a reaction by the federal government to changes in how local authorities are handling their interactions with immigrant populations, along with recent high profile incidents involving undocumented immigrants committing serious crimes.3

It is important to note that ICE has emphasized they are only targeting individuals with criminal records, making it important for you to hire effective legal counsel if you are facing criminal charges.

Why Large Scale Sweeps Will Likely Continue

In the past, federal immigration officials relied on local law enforcement to hold immigrants after a criminal conviction under a system known as detainment. The result of this program was the deportation of many immigrants who had only been convicted of minor or non-violent offenses.4

The program spurred protests by immigrant rights activists. In reaction, the California legislature passed a bill barring the practice except in instances of violent or serious crimes.5

This created a new problem for federal immigration officials. No longer could they rely on local jails to hold immigrants until they could be picked up by federal agents. So, they developed and implemented a new system known as the National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP).6

Continue reading →

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In Russia, he was an easy target because of his sexual orientation. After being attacked several times in his home country and getting no help from law enforcement, a gay Russian man sought asylum in the U.S. only to be denied by immigration officials. A federal appeals court recently ordered immigration officials to review their decision.

Gay Russian Man Seeks Asylum

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A gay Russian man, who was identified only as “John Doe” in court documents, was beaten by college classmates in 2002. A year later, he was beaten unconscious while dining at a restaurant with his partner and was hospitalized for three weeks. The man went to the police after the incident, but law enforcement took no action.

Determined to escape discrimination for his sexual orientation, the man sought asylum in the U.S. However, a U.S. immigration judge denied the petitioner’s request for asylum in 2007. The judge ruled that the man had not provided sufficient evidence that the Russian government was unable or unwilling to protect him and the isolated incidents in which he was beaten did not show he deserved refuge in the U.S.

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Illegal Immigrants Allowed Driver's License in CaliforniaThere have been many attempts in recent years to grant special driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in California. On Jan. 1, Section 1936.5 was added to the Civil Code and section 12801.6 was added to the Vehicle Code, which granted driving privileges to illegal immigrants who came to California as children. Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 60, extending the ability to apply for driver’s licenses to all undocumented residents. Under AB 60, new applicants will need to present several forms of personal identification, as well as pass the standard driving tests.

AB 60 was part of a larger state effort to increase the rights of undocumented immigrants. Gov. Brown also signed 8 other immigration bills into law, asserting that “while Washington waffles on immigration, California is forging ahead.” It is estimated that about 1.4 million undocumented immigrants will apply for special driving permits under this new law. The government should start issuing the new driver’s licenses in late 2014 or early 2015. When the law goes into effect, California will become one of 11 states granting driving privileges to undocumented residents.

What are the Arguments for Granting Driving Privileges?

Approximately 38 percent of California’s voter population is of Hispanic decent. A recent USC study concluded that at least 2.6 million people, largely Hispanic, lack legal residence in the state. Implementation of this bill will help these undocumented people get to and from work and school without fear of being pulled over by the police.

California State Senator Kevin de Leon praised AB 60 as an important “social justice and public safety bill.”There is some evidence from other states suggesting that the bill will reduce fatal crashes and improve public safety. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck supported the bill, stating that all Californians will be safer once those driving without a license are taught how to operate a car safely and are tested to ensure they meet state standards. Many other supporters asserted that these newly licensed drivers will be safer drivers. Drivers able to get licenses will eventually be required to have automobile insurance, leading to safer roads for all residents.

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An immigrant who is seeking to obtain federal immigration benefits from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and has a history of criminal convictions or arrests is strongly encouraged to use the help of a criminal defense attorney in order to obtain the necessary court dockets/dispositions and records. Regardless of whether the immigrant is applying for adjustment of status, a nonimmigrant visa, or naturalization, it can be crucial to obtain the necessary records in order to accurately process the immigration petition. An immigrant benefit application without supplied court dockets can be subject to a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a rejection by the federal agency. In order for the USCIS to successfully grant immigration benefits, the US Government wants to verify that an applicant convicted of a crime does not pose a threat to the public or government or have questionable moral character.

Court Conviction Records/Dockets

requesting court docketsCopies of court documents that are recent, including orders regarding marriage and judgments of dissolutions, probate, name change, civil and criminal cases – may be available at the headquarters of the judicial district where the case was handled. In the State of California it is usually the courthouse where the case was handled and cannot be requested through any other court.

Retaining a criminal defense attorney speeds the process for the applicant. Often, requests made by individuals can result in long delays or rejected packages for a number of reasons. Ordering case documents requires the court case disposition number and typically additional information including the parties’ names, as well as other important dates and locations. Fees are generally charged for the records and the price for each record is typically determined by amount of pages being requested or other factors that a criminal defense attorney can find out for you.

Though there is not a set timeframe or process established for a general method of obtaining court records in California, as each court has a different system, it is important to note that it may take longer than 30 days before an applicant has received proper court records to supplement their application for US Immigration benefits.

Continue reading →

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Decision Deals a Serious Blow to Advocates for Equal Justice for Hard Working Immigrants

California’s governor late Sunday vetoed a bill that would have allowed local authorities to free undocumented immigrants from custody despite requests by immigration officials to hold them for possible deportation proceedings. In his veto message, Gov. Brown said he could not sign the bill because under it, “local officers would be prohibited from complying with an immigration detainer unless the person arrested was charged with, or has been previously convicted of, a serious or violent felony.

By vetoing the Trust Act Governor Brown has failed California’s immigrant communities, threatening our civil rights and leaving us all less safe. Immigration and Customs Enforcement strong-armed the Governor to defend its deportation quota instead of defending Californian’s rights. Until we have immigration reform, federal agents shouldn’t try to coerce local law enforcement officers into detaining people who’ve been picked up for minor offenses and pose no reasonable threat to our community.

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By September 30, 2012 Governor Brown must decide whether to reduce California’s cooperation with Secure Communities, a federal program that uses the fingerprints of those arrested to find and deport illegal immigrants, or to continue to allow state and local jails to hold immigrants for deportation when arrested for committing any offense. By signing the TRUST Act, Governor brown will prohibit state and local jails from holding immigrants for deportation unless they committed a serious or violent felony.

By signing the TRUST Act, governor Brown will reduce the fear of deportation that haunts the undocumented community. The current climate prevents many undocumented aliens from cooperating with law enforcement during criminal investigations and from reporting crimes that they have witnessed due to fear of being deported. This is a law that will ensure the security of our state. This law generates hope among thousands of honest families that work arduously to improve the living standards of their children, and who face daily the possibility of getting pulled over while on their way to work and getting their fingerprints taken.

How would you feel if you had lived in your home in Orange County for 20 years and one day on the way to work you were pulled over for a broken taillight and the next thing you know you are in custody facing deportation. You have a wife and three children and have been their sole support. You have no criminal record of any kind. Yet, if this law is not signed by Governor Brown our state runs the risk of being no better than the police and government officials in Arizona who are doing all in their power to run every undocumented worker out of their state.

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Your Orange County defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich gladly announce that as of today, Wednesday, August 15, 2012 President Obama’s promise to help young undocumented persons who were brought to the US as children begins to come true. As of August 15, 2012 those persons who are in the US illegally, but were brought to the US when they were young can apply for a work permit.

This program also grants a two year “deportation deferral” for those persons that were in the immigration process and were facing deportation.

This is one of the most important laws that President Obama has had the courage to enact to help tens of thousands of young adults in California.

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Anytime a Defendant in a California pleads guilty to a misdemeanor or a felony, that defendant must be advised “on the record” that the consequences of the guilty plea could result in deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States. Unfortunately, when some defendants agree to a plea bargain, their attorneys don’t adequately warn them of these potentially dire consequences which can lead to significant problems down the road. Many times, attorneys will simply tell their clients just to initial and sign important plea bargain and advisement of rights forms.

Our law firm is seeing more and more cases where clients come into our offices and explain that they or a loved one is in danger of being deported or can’t gain citizenship due to a guilty plea in a criminal case. More often than not, these people explain that they had no idea that what was happening to them or their loved ones was possible because either the court or the attorney handling the case didn’t tell them.

When this situation comes about, it is necessary to contact a competent, aggressive law firm immediately to get involved and determine if there is any legal way to rectify the situation to avoid the dire immigration consequences. It is necessary to access the entire file from the criminal case and any relevant transcripts to determine if in fact the defendant was adequately warned of all of the potential immigration consequences. It has been our experience that in many cases, defendants are not properly warned and that could lead to the filing of a “motion to vacate judgment”, which basically goes back in time and wipes the guilty plea away as if it never happened and reopens the criminal case. At that point it might be possible to renegotiate with the District Attorney and work out a plea bargain that won’t have adverse immigration consequences.

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.