Discussion Points for Punto Legal- August 17, 2016

1. ICE Agents in the Courthouse. I like to tell people that the immigration enforcement environment is the best it has been in 15 years. That is because President Obama finally got control over ICE in 2014. They can pick up undocumented immigrants only if: (1) the immigrant has a felony conviction; (2) a conviction of a significant misdemeanor, such as a DUI or domestic violence; or (3) a recent deportation order. So what is ICE doing? They have begun focusing on people with as little as one DUI conviction and they have been going to courthouses to locate people with as little as one DUI conviction. This is a big problem if you have to go to court.

Do you go to court and risk being picked up by ICE? Or do you fail to appear in court and get an arrest warrant and forfeit the bond money?

Within the last year, a Mexican immigrant who had to go to court on the 4th Floor of the courthouse in Glenwood Springs climbed into the ceiling of the courthouse when he heard there were ICE officers in the building. He waited until after 6:00 p.m. and jumped out of the ceiling. Unfortunately for him, someone was still at work, and called the police. He was apprehended.

We got a new client last week who went to court to pay fines for a traffic matter, and he got picked up by IC. He had one old DUI.

We got a new client this week who went to court in Breckenridge. He got picked up because he had an old DUI.

To me, it is outrageous for ICE officers to interfere with court appearances by trying to pick up people at the courthouse. You don’t see the sheriff’s deputies or the FBI doing that.

Let me shift gears at this point.

What do you do if you get picked up by ICE for an old DUI?

First, know that you will end up at the ICE jail in Aurora.

Second, in most cases, you will be eligible for an immigration bond.

Third, the deportation officer, who could have given you an immigration bond, will not give you a bond.

Fourth, you will have to see an immigration judge to get a bond. You may be in jail for two weeks before you see the judge.

Fifth, there are immigration judges assigned to the detention facility.

Sixth, if you have one DUI, you will almost always get a bond.

Seventh, if you have two DUI’s, you will probably get a bond, but some will be denied.

Eighth, if you have three or more DUI’s, you almost certainly will not get an immigration bond.

2. Expanded Provisional Waiver Program

Here is an example of how the provisional waiver program works. Hector entered the U.S. without inspection in 2004. He met and married Leticia who is a resident. Leticia wants to immigrate Hector. She files an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Hector has to go to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez to fix his papers. Before he goes to Juarez, he can file for the provisional or stateside waiver of his unlawful presence bar to entry, and know—before he goes—whether or not he got the waiver. Of course, if he does not get the waiver, he does not travel to Juarez.

Here is another example. Jose Luis entered the U.S. on visa in 2005. He met and married Claudia who is a resident. Claudia has not been a resident for five years, so she can’t apply for citizenship. Thus, the entry on a visa is of no help to Jose Luis. He has to go to Juarez to fix his papers, but he has heard a lot of bad stories about people seeking waivers after they go to Juarez. But the provisional waiver solves his problem. He can obtain the waiver in the U.S. and will only have to spend 6-12 days in Juarez.

Sergio is 20 years old. Sergio’s mother brought him to the U.S. illegally when he was five years old. His mother divorced Sergio’s father and remarried a man who is now Sergio’s step-father. This took place when Sergio was 15 years old. Sergio’s step-father is a resident. He files an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for Sergio. Sergio will have to go to Juarez to fix his papers. But he can apply for the provisional waiver before he goes to Juarez. His waiver will be based on showing an extreme hardship to his step-father and his mother, if she has become a resident.

Graciela entered the U.S. without inspection in 1994. She had son, Wilfredo, born in the U. S. in 1995. He just turned 21, and filed an immigrant petition for his mother. Graciela has to fix her papers in Juarez and will trigger the 10-year bar to entry when she departs the U.S. Fortunately for her, her father became a resident in 2015, so she has a qualifying relative for the provisional waiver. She will have to prove her father will experience extreme hardship if she does not get the waiver. If Graciela did not have a U.S. resident parent, she would not have a qualifying relative and could not apply for the waiver.

Leidy came to the U.S. in 1999 from El Salvador. She married a U.S. citizen and became a resident, then a citizen. She filed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for her brother, Wilmer, on September 2, 2003. That petition became current 9 days ago on 1 August 2016. Wilmer came to the U.S. illegally in 2002. He has to go to San Salvador to fix his papers. Fortunately for Wilmer, Leidy has already immigrated Wilmer’s mother to the U.S. Wilmer can thus apply for the provisional waiver based on an extreme hardship to his mother.