Discussion Points for Punto Legal- June 8, 2016

1. SEX. That's right sex. Too often Latino men get into trouble beyond their imagination by having sex in Colorado with girls who are too young. I realize there are big major cultural differences between Mexico and El Salvador, on the one hand, and the United States, on the other. For example, I understand that girls get married at age 14 in some parts of Mexico. If you have sexual relations with a 14 year old in the U.S., you are going to jail.

This is what happens if you get convicted on any sex crime in Colorado- even if you don't go to jail. Your name and photo goes up on the Colorado Sex Offender Registry. On the next working day, an ICE agent checks for new men on the sex offender registry. If you are undocumented, you get picked up in about two days. Sex offenders are top priority for ICE.

And, by the way, any sexual abuse of a minor child is grounds for taking away your permanent resident card and deporting you.

The age of consent in Colorado is 18 years old.

Sex with a 17-year-old by a person in a position of trust is a felony crime. Who is in a position of trust? Coaches, uncles, other relatives, church teachers, employers, and the like.

Also consensual sex with a 15- or 16-year-old girl is a crime if you are 10 or more years older.

As I said, sex offenders go on the Colorado Sex Offender Registry, which, in turn, is on the internet. But it gets worse, much worse.

If you are convicted of a sex felony, and sentenced to prison, you may be kept in prison for the rest of your life. Life imprisonment. The prison system decides when to let you out; they won't let you out until you have been treated; and they won't treat you if you are undocumented!

The philosophy of Colorado sex offender law is lifetime treatment of sex offenders.

Next week, I will talk about other features of what we call sex offender hell.

2. Abandonment of Permanent Residence. If you are a resident and have been gone from the U.S. more than one year, you can expect to be questioned about whether you have abandoned your residency when you return to the U.S. How long you have been outside the U.S. is a major factor, but it is not the only one. Immigration authorities will consider your intent; employment abroad; U.S. business affiliations; ownership of a home in the United States; payment of U.S. taxes; community ties developed before the departure; maintenance of a bank account, and U.S. residence of other immediate family members. Evidence that the LPR has abandoned residency can include long or frequent absences from the United States; disposing of property or terminating a job in the United States before leaving; family, property, or business ties all located abroad; working for a foreign employer, voting in a foreign election, and failure to file U.S. income tax returns.

Employment outside the United States by a U.S. employer would not likely be considered evidence of abandonment of LPR status.

If you think you may be outside the U.S. for more than one year, get a re-entry permit before you travel. This reentry permit may be obtained by filing Form I-131 with the USCIS before leaving. You can stay outside the U.S. for up to two years and not be regarded as having abandoned your residency with a re-entry permit.

Permanent resident aliens are entitled to a hearing as to whether they have abandoned their LPR status when returning from a lengthy absence. If it is requested, they will be paroled into the country for that purpose. The government has the burden of proving by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that the LPR's status has changed. In those cases, an immigration judge will hear testimony and weigh the evidence as to whether abandonment has occurred. An LPR retains that status until a formal determination has been made.

If you have been outside the U.S. for over one year, you can simply argue your case to Customs and Border Protection if they raise a question of abandonment. You can also file Form DS-117, Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, along with a fee of $275, with the U.S. consulate.

The consulate will conduct an interview and make a determination as to whether the LPR has abandoned resident status.