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Nashville Legal Issues Blog

Is the government hiring more deportation officers?

In several recent posts, we’ve discussed proposed changes in immigration policy. Some of those proposals, such as the executive immigration orders, are currently locked up in legal battles. Others have been introduced with much less media scrutiny.

Specifically, three bills would drastically beef up current immigration enforcement efforts. Two of the bills would give new powers to the two federal agencies tasked with immigration laws: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The third bill addresses a range of immigration enforcement issues.

What is the status of the immigration refugee program?

Several months ago, our Nashville immigration law firm was featured in the media. Specifically, we offered our opinion regarding the Trump administration’s recent executive orders on immigration, including the travel ban and suspension of the refugee program. Our advice was to not expect a speedy resolution.

As readers may know, federal judges issued temporary restraining orders in January 2017, halting the implementation of the controversial policies. It took until May for the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to take up the case, tasked with determining the constitutionality of shutting down the U.S. refugee program.

Do I have to leave the country after being convicted of a crime?

Every day, immigrants, legal and illegal, are arrested on charges such as drunk driving, driving without a license or breaking into a store. Such an event can be frightening, especially when you do not know what it means for your future.

You may be notified that you have to leave the country, but the fact is that you might qualify for a waiver. This waiver enables you to stay in the United States for as many as 10 years as you apply for legal status.

When do local Tennessee officials contact immigration officials?

In our last post, we talked about “sanctuary cities,” places where local officials might decline to help federal immigration authorities. Today’s post takes a closer look at the requests that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities might make upon Tennessee officials.

Reporting

Are "sanctuary cities" defying federal immigration policies?

As federal law, immigration policies typically supersede local or state practices. However, some of the more controversial immigration requirements have resulted in so-called “sanctuary cities:” municipalities that may not be enforcing one or more federal immigration mandates.

Local resistance typically takes the form of ignoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement orders. For example, ICE officials may request notification whenever an undocumented immigrant is arrested by local police, even if just for a minor crime. Yet local officials may choose to not share that information with ICE. Even if they do alert the ICE, local officials may also decline to hold an undocumented immigrant long enough for ICE to petition the applicable court to commence deportation proceedings.

Tennessee immigrant's case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court

It may surprise readers to learn that a Tennessee immigration case, Lee v. U.S., has made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether an immigrant from South Korea is properly facing deportation charges after pleading guilty to an alleged drug crime. The man, who is a legal resident, claims that his lawyer incorrectly advised him that accepting the plea agreement would not put him at risk for deportation.

There is some legal precedent to support the man’s position. A case from the 1980s, called Strickland v. Washington, clarified the grounds on which a conviction might be overturned based on ineffective legal counsel. For relief, the individual must show that he or she received incorrect legal advice, and further, that the advice resulted in harm.

Are authorities searching for abuses in the H-1B visa program?

A recent statement from the Justice Department suggests that federal officials are poised to prosecute abuses of the H-1B visa program.

The H-1B visa allows businesses to hire skilled foreign workers. This year, 85,000 new visas will be issued under the program. Yet the definition of what constitutes skilled labor may be changing. A recent memo from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that computer programmers should not qualify unless they also hold a related bachelor’s degree.

How to get a student visa

Foreign citizens who wish to study in the United States must go through a process to obtain a visa to be able to enter the U.S. Most students need an F-1 visa to go to a college or university, high school or a language training program. There is also an M-1 visa for vocational programs or other nonacademic programs. The process for each visa is similar, and it will take time, so learn the steps to take and what paperwork you should prepare.

Take these steps to obtain a student visa

Could a speeding ticket escalate into a deportation proceeding?

Although no one likes to get a speeding ticket and pay a fine, drivers who are uncertain about their immigration status may face a much more serious consequence: deportation.

According to records from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, discretionary arrests of immigrants who do not have a driver’s license may result in unwanted attention from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. After a criminal defendant is brought to jail and fingerprinted, his or her information is automatically shared with ICE officials. At least 127 of those arrests led to investigations by ICE officials.

Fear of Trump immigration policy deters domestic violence reports

For those whose presence in the United States is threatened by abuse or crime, the U visa has been a lifesaver -- literally. Under the U visa program, victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes who are helpful to law enforcement are eligible to stay in the U.S. independent of other family members, who may include the abuser. Unauthorized migrants have the same rights as other victims of crime to apply for U visas, and U visa holders are eligible for green cards and eventual U.S. citizenship.

In other words, the U visa program is intended to protect victims of crime or domestic violence from deportation.

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