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Discussion Points for Punto Legal –March 25, 2020

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1. COVID-19 or Corona Virus.

Ted Hess and Associates is open. Some of us are coming to work; others are working from home. We are all working and getting all types of immigration cases out the door. At the same time, we are trying to do our work through the buzon on the front door; through email; through the internet; and through the mail.

As a result of the corona virus, the immigration court in downtown Denver is shut down and all hearings have been postponed. The immigration court in ICE jail in Aurora is still hearing cases. The immigration service in Denver and the application support centers in Grand Junction and Aurora are also closed. If you have an interview, it will be rescheduled.

U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. consulates in Mexico have suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services until further notice.

The border with Mexico is closed for routine border crossing.

ICE enforcement has been curtailed.

In the Eagle courts, all appearances and hearings have been postponed through April 3. There is an exception for bail hearings and hearings necessary for public safety. In Garfield County, it is business as usual unless you have flu-like symptoms, in which case you are asked to call the court.

2. ICE at the Courthouses.

During the last month, I have noticed more ICE arrests in and around courthouses. This might change soon. The Governor signed a new law designed to stop courthouse arrests by ICE. The new law states: "A PERSON SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL ARREST WHILE THE PERSON IS PRESENT AT A COURTHOUSE . . .OR WHILE GOING TO, ATTENDING, OR COMING FROM A COURT PROCEEDING." The bill provides for a lawsuit against an ICE agent who violates this law. Because federal law is superior to state law, there will be a legal show-down over this bill, but in the meantime, ICE may decide stay away from courthouses.

3. Post-conviction relief.

Last Friday, I was in court with a young immigrant. He had pleaded guilty to a felony assault in 2018. He was charged with the same offense in a new case in January. ICE picked him up at the courthouse. Because of his 2018 conviction, he could not get an immigration bond. He was being held in the ICE jail in Aurora. We had the judge order ICE bring him to court. The young man’s wife testified that his 2018 lawyer told him he would not have an immigration problem if he pleaded guilty. We managed to persuade the judge to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea in the 2018 case. Now he is eligible to get an immigration bond and fight his cases.

4. Spanish-speaking criminal defense lawyer.

We have a Spanish-speaking criminal defense lawyer in our office. His name is Brian Roche. Brian lives in Eagle County. Brian saw a lot of criminal cases as a public defender in Denver. And he served as prosecutor in Eagle County. We would like you to hire us for criminal cases in Eagle County and Garfield County. If we go to trial, both Brian and I handle the case in front of a jury. Now you can hire a lawyers who are ready to defend you and explain everything to you in Spanish.

5. Tips for New Year.

Number 1. If you can fix you papers in the United States, that is, adjust your status to lawful permanent resident, do it quickly. You may be able to beat the $1000 fee increase. Number 2. If you have DACA, renew your DACA for another two years to stay ahead of a Supreme Court decision allowing President Trump to end DACA. If you have El Salvador TPS and a citizen spouse or 21-year-old child, travel to El Salvador with an advance travel permit so that you can fix your papers in the United States.