Monthly Archives: June 2016

America makes it hard for immigrant investors

By Peek & Toland on June 30, 2016

Immigrants who try to set up start-ups in the United States typically face masses of red tape and wading into the lengthy visa requirements needed to get on their feet. The scarcity of the in-demand H-1B visas, means the United States makes it tough for potential investors.

A recent article in Chicagoinno detailed the difficulties five foreign investors faced in setting up start-ups in the United States. They were a small sample of the many foreign investors who try, and sometimes fail, to invest in the U.S.

immigrant investors say a lack of vision is curtailing global investment

Global investors fear America has a lack of vision

They included Indian entrepreneurs Ashish Rangnekar and Ujjwal Gupta. When he was studying in Chicago, Rangnekar sought to obtain an H-1B visa to work on BenchPrep, an educational start-up. He was unsuccessful but later obtained a green card when he married his American girlfriend.

Every year, immigration services hand out a finite number of H-1B visas. There is a cap and they are very difficult to obtain. We describe how you can get ready for cap season on our website.

Immigrants make a massive contribution to the prosperity of the U.S. We recently noted how more than half of the nation’s start-ups now worth more than $1 billion were founded by overseas entrepreneurs. It’s telling that immigrants make up only 13 percent of the population of the U.S. but are setting up more than half of the lucrative new businesses.

The Chicago article referred to the vagueness of immigration policy that contributes to “visa headache.” It quoted Rajesh Karmani, the founder of Zero Percent, a new business that connects restaurants with surplus food to nearby nonprofit organizations. He came to the United States to study for a PhD. in computer science. He spent long hours poring over immigration policy because he was not able to afford an attorney to help him, and was finally successful in getting a visa.

The entrepreneurs bemoaned the fact there is no tailor made visa available for foreign-born entrepreneurs, while legislation to make it easier for investors from abroad to start up their companies in the United States has been eclipsed by the wider immigration debate.

Founders from companies from overseas, many of whom study at top U.S. universities, lose valuable time working through their immigration applications which could better be used in setting up their businesses.

The issues faced by foreign investors, highlights the need for experienced visa application attorneys. In the cosmopolitan city of Austin, many bright students arrive at our academic institutions. They bring great ideas with them that could benefit the Texas economy.

If you are seeking to invest in the United States, there is a complicated visa system to negotiate and a number of potential visas you can apply for. Our Texas immigration attorneys can help you through each stage of the process. Please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced immigration employment attorneys so we can help you apply for an H-1B petition. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration Reform, Uncategorized

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What Does Continuous Residence Mean in Citizenship Applications?

By Peek & Toland on June 29, 2016

If you are going through the often-complex process of becoming a U.S. citizen, you will be familiar with the term “continuous residence.” However, you may not know its exact legal definition.

Green card holders who are applying to become U.S. citizens, often undergo a process called naturalization which our Texas citizenship attorneys explain here.

Naturalization is the often lengthy process a foreign citizen or national goes through to comply with all of the many requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Continuous residence is important in citizenship applications

An important requirement of this process is that applicants for citizenship demonstrate that they have “resided continuously,” or lived in the United States for at least five years, or three years in the case of an applicant who is a qualified spouse of an American citizen.

Calculating continuous residence involves going back to the day you received your green card which is when the continuous residency clock started ticking. It’s important to know that the key date is the one on your green card, rather than when you arrived in the United States.

Extended absences from the United States may disrupt your application states U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Factors That Count Against Continuous Residence

1 – Absences of a year or more may disrupt or derail the process;

2 – Absences of more than six months but less than a year may disrupt the applicant’s continuous residence, unless he or she can prove otherwise.

Applicants Must Show Physical Presence

  • Applicants for citizenship must show they were physically present in the United States at least 30 months within the five year period before they made their application.
  • Qualified spouses of U.S. citizens must show they spent at least 18 months out of the three years prior to their application in the country. The Immigration and Nationality Act sets out some exceptions to the continuous residency requirements, including:
  • Applicants must also show they were in the country in the three months before they filed form N-400 to start the naturalization process.
  • Contractors of the U.S. government;
  • A public international organization;
  • The U.S. Government, including the military;
  • A recognized American institution of research.
  • An organization with a designation under the International Immunities Act.

In short, as long as you have not broken your continuous residence by being out of the country for periods of over six months, you won’t jeopardize your citizenship application.

However, actions like spending more than six months abroad without demonstrating the fact you still live in the U.S., traveling for a year or more and failing to apply for a re-entry visa or failing to file taxes because you don’t see yourself as a resident, can scupper or at least jeopardize your application.

If you have any questions about continuous residency or fear you have broken the chain, our Austin citizenship attorneys can help you. We have helped numerous residents to gain citizenship. To speak to a representative at Peek & Toland , call us at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Citizenship

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House Speaker Paul Ryan Softens His Tone on Undocumented Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on June 28, 2016

Paul Ryan, the House Speaker and one of the most prominent Republican politicians, has not always been known for inclusive views.

But when he joined 500 or so Georgetown University students on April 27, he emphasized his immigrant roots and struck a more measured tone on immigration, reported Fusion.net.

Speaker Paul Ryan's stance softens on immigration

Paul Ryan

Like most of us who live in the United States, Ryan is descended from immigrants. His ancestors came to America from Ireland. He described immigration as a “beautiful story that needs to continue in this country.”

He also eschewed the term “illegal immigrants” used by many people in the GOP. Ryan instead spoke of “undocumented immigrants.”

Words carry a meaning in this context and ‘undocumented immigrants’ is a less derogatory term. Ryan’s views on immigration reform were also at odds with those of the GOP’s prospective Presidential nominee Donald Trump who has pledged to deport as many as 11 million migrants.

Ryan said at the town hall.

“I’m a person who believes that for the undocumented, we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation, that involves giving people the ability to get right with the law, to come in and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration.”

Paul Ryan Has Avoided Entering Immigration Dialogue

Notwithstanding Paul Ryan’s softer stance on immigration, he has refused to talk about immigration reform while President Obama remains in the Oval Office.

Ryan spoke about immigration reform after one of the students asked why the speaker said he would not work on immigration reform before November.

Obama’s comprehensive immigration reforms have been held up by Congress and in the courts. Obama’s deferred action orders were considered by the Supreme Court in the case of United States v Texas in April. The fate of about 4 million immigrants who lack documentation and would otherwise be deported, is in the balance.

The two orders that the Supreme Court considered are Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Lawful Permanent Residents and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DAPA would give some classed of immigrants who lack and have children in the country, relief from deportation.

DACA applies to some classes of immigrants who arrived in the United States when they were children, to stay in the country.

You can read more details about the Supreme Court case here.

Immigration reform remains a contentious issue that splits the two major parties and the branches of government. If you are living and working illegally in the United States, you face the danger of being held and deported by immigration officials. Our experienced Austin immigration lawyers can advise you of your rights and provide you with the resources and information that you need to be more secure. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

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Court Rules States Can Impose Their Own Penalties on Immigrants who Commit Identity Theft

By Peek & Toland on June 27, 2016

Tough penalties imposed on undocumented immigrants in Arizona have been upheld in a federal court in a case that appears to give the green light to states to impose their own sanctions on those engaged in identity theft.

The ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in May is seen as another victory for the hardline approach of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona who has pioneered new ways to punish illegal immigrants. The hardline approach of Arpaio was recently profiled in Rolling Stone magazine.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that while there are still some questions about how prosecutors and police interpret Arizona’s identity theft laws, they do not appear to violate the Constitution, or impede the powers of the federal government to set its national immigration policies.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Arpaio’s identity theft law “stretched the crime of identity theft to include everyone from forgers to people simply seeking employment without valid documentation.”

Identity theft by immigrants leads to serious penalties

The Washington Times reported that the judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Arizona’s laws are acceptable as long as they apply to everyone. That means they include U.S. citizens and it’s, therefore, immaterial if the legislature intended them to be used as a way to attack one of the symptoms of illegal immigration, namely identity theft.

The decision raises the prospect that other states that have taken an uncompromising line on immigrants in the past, such as Texas, may bring in their own set of hardline, Arizona-style laws.

The unanimous U.S. Court of Appeals decision was written by Circuit Judge Richard C. Tallman, who stated:

“In this case, Arizona exercised its police powers to pass criminal laws that apply equally to unauthorized aliens, authorized aliens, and U.S. citizens. Just because some applications of those laws implicate federal immigration priorities does not mean that the statute as a whole should be struck down.”

The law is just the latest piece of legislation in Arizona that’s tough on immigrants. Others include:

Requiring Businesses to Use E-Verify

The E-Verify program allows employers to check the work authorization of employees. It’s mandatory for businesses to use it in Arizona. The move to force businesses to use it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

SB 1070

Arizona brought in stiffer penalties for illegal immigrants for crimes but the Supreme Court struck these down. However, the justices upheld a section of the legislation that mandates police to check the legal status of people they encounter in their regular line of work, if they suspect they are in the United States illegally. The ACLU complained that most of the people who were checked followed routine traffic stops or other minor infractions.

Arizona brought in changes to the state’s identity theft laws eight years ago. They are intended to punish anyone with a false identity or a fake social security number who is seeking employment in Arizona.

While Texas has a conservative leadership like Arizona, it has not followed Arizona in enacting hardline anti-immigrant laws to the same degree.

In 2010, former governor Rick Perry said Arizona’s tough immigration stance would not be right for Texas. He said Texas has a long held tradition of rejecting harsh anti-immigration laws. Austin became a majority minority city back in 2005. Its undocumented immigrants live in fear of deportation and hope for reform of the immigration laws, rather than harsher legislation being enacted.

Our Austin immigration attorneys have helped hundreds of undocumented immigrants as well as those accused of identity theft. If you fear deportation or are facing criminal charges, call Peek & Toland today for help at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Theft Crimes

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How Texas Uses Unreliable LIDAR Systems in DUI Arrests

By Peek & Toland on June 24, 2016

Police in Texas often use the offense of speeding to pull over a suspect who is then tested for driving under the influence of alcohol. If we are pulled over, we assume the cops are using reliable systems. Alarmingly, this may not be the case. Texas police routinely use LIDAR, a system that has not been properly tested and was described by a court as “novel scientific evidence.”

Some speed guns use unreliable LIDAR

catch speeding drivers with a radar gun

When motorists are pulled over on the suspicion of speeding the police may use RADAR. This system involves transmitting radio waves at a fixed frequency. Part of the beam that is transmitted reflects from the vehicle that is being targeted and bounces back to the radar. When a target is moving, a small change in the frequency occurs. It uses the “Doppler Effect,” which is defined as the change in frequency of the waves as the target moves away or closer to the location of the RADAR. The RADAR system is then able to calculate the speed of the target.

The courts in Texas have approved RADAR as a reliable technology but question marks linger over the use of LIDAR.

What is LIDAR?

LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. A pulse laser detection system works by transmitting a predetermined series of light pulses with a specific time interval between each pulse to a target. The system then makes a calculation of the distance of the light reflected off a moving object and divides it by the time of travel to calculate the speed of a moving vehicle.

If you are pulled over for speeding by a police officer you are unlikely to have any idea about whether a RADAR or a LIDAR system has been used to calculate your speed. However, this could have a bearing on your rights, particularly if you are subsequently charged with a more serious offense such as a DWI.

In the 2008 case of Hall v State, the justices in the Court of Appeals of Texas considered the conviction of Phillip Hall. He had been found guilty of drunk driving by a jury, fined $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail. The sentence was suspended, and he was placed on community supervision for two years. He appealed the case, claiming the arresting officer lacked probable cause because the State of Texas had failed to prove the reliability of the LIDAR device that was used to determine if he was speeding when he was initially pulled over. The arresting officer claimed he was driving at 76 mph in an area with a 65 mph limit.

The Court of Appeals heard evidence that the LIDAR laser device used was admissible by statute in every court in Texas. The judges noted that the state failed to cite any particular court decision or statute to support its claim. The state did use evidence to support the reliability of RADAR technology, but this was not the system used to pull Hall over for allegedly speeding.

The court ruled that LIDAR technology was “novel scientific evidence,” and it may only be admissible after it was judicially determined to be reliable at a hearing and reversed the judgment of the trial court.

The case left questions unanswered such as how much evidence of reliability is necessary before LIDAR is admissible as reliable evidence in a judicial setting.

You can read more about your DWI rights in Texas here. Most people who are stopped for speeding, don’t question the technology that’s used or realize that a subsequent conviction for a more serious offense can be overturned if the pretext for the original traffic stop was suspect.

If you are facing DWI charges, it’s important to make sure you have taken all necessary steps to make sure your arrest was justified. Our experienced Austin DWI attorneys will examine all of the evidence for potential flaws in the case against you. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation.


Posted in DWI

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Backlog of Rape Kit Testing in Austin and Elsewhere Impedes Justice

By Peek & Toland on June 23, 2016

In 2011, Texas became only the second state in the nation to pass legislation that required law enforcement agencies to count and test the backlog of untested rape kits in their storage facilities. Five years on, the backlog remains substantial creating concerns it could impede the administration of justice.

This month, the Washington Times reported on concerns raised by the backlog in DNA testing at labs across Texas.

While inroads have been made in the testing of rape kits, problems that the FBI identified last year in DNA testing have led to a re-evaluation of many cases.

Rape kit backlog is impeding justice

Crime labs across the country were told by the FBI that they are using outdated methods that were overstating the accuracy of DNA tests. For years, prosecutors have lauded DNA as an infallible test. However, labs were examining samples containing genetic material from a number of people and overstating the reliability of the tests, the Washington Times reported.

While prosecutors in Travis County are part of that massive national effort to re-evaluate cases, Austin Police Department’s crime lab, is still in the laborious process of testing new software and updating protocols. It will have to perform new calculations on about half of the 1,297 cases identified to date in Travis County, the Washington Times reported.

Meanwhile, in Houston, the expansion of testing for property crimes has served to fuel a backlog of 4,600 DNA cases, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The backlog has impacted the Harris County crime lab’s ability to promptly process evidence for sexual assaults and even homicides, the Chronicle reported.

The lab serves more than 60 law enforcement agencies. The county has a 60 day goal for the processing of sexual assault cases, but processing is taking as long as 172 days to complete, the report stated.

Clete Snell, a criminal justice professor at the University of Houston-Downtown, said the delays were undermining public confidence, postponing trials and meaning wrongly convicted defendants are languishing in jail longer as they wait for the results of the DNA tests that would clear them.

A report in the Amarillo Globe News in March said the city’s police department still has more than 800 untested rape kits that date back to the 1990s.  Police say complying with the 2011 law is draining resources.

As of early 2013, Texas had about 15,900 untested rape kits.

DNA evidence is crucial, particularly when gathering evidence for sexual offenses or family violence, where false allegations are frequently made.  The recent problems with DNA testing and the backlog in testing has undermined confidence in the criminal justice system in Texas and has surely condemned more innocent people to additional time behind bars.

If you have been charged with rape or another sexual offense or any violent offense, you could lose your good name and face a heavy custodial sentence. It’s imperative to hire a knowledgeable and experienced criminal attorney to defend you. Please contact our office at (512) 474-4445.

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Inaccurate Legal Advice over the Deportation Risks in Criminal Proceedings Can Be Challenged

By Peek & Toland on June 22, 2016

When non-U.S. citizens are convicted of crimes, they can face deportation or other immigration consequences if legal advice is suspect and their defense attorneys fail to alert them to the potential dire effects a guilty plea can have on their immigration status.

When this happens, their case can be reopened under a writ of Habeas Corpus. Our Austin criminal defense and immigration lawyers find ourselves dealing with a considerable number of these cases. If the defense attorney you hired failed to warn you of the probable immigration consequences of a conviction, your case could be reopened.

bad legal advice can result in your criminal case being reopened

It’s only applicable to non-citizens who were convicted after March 2010, the date when a landmark ruling was made.

The U.S. Supreme Court case of Padilla v. Kentucky, concerned the professional obligation lawyers have to alert their clients about the consequences for the immigration process that flow from pleading or being found guilty.

In the case that was decided on March 31 2010, Padilla, who was a lawful U.S. permanent resident more than four decades, faced deportation after pleading guilty to drug-distribution charges in Kentucky.

He later claimed that his attorney failed to advise him of the threat of deportation before he entered the plea. He said the lawyer told him he should not worry about deportation because he had lived in the United States for such a long time. Padilla said he would not have entered a guilty plea and would instead have gone to trial had he known about the deportation threat.

The Kentucky Supreme Court denied him post-conviction relief. The justices said the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to a lawyer does not protect defendants from incorrect advice about deportation because removal from the country is merely a “collateral” consequence of a criminal conviction.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ruling of Kentucky’s highest court. The justices said deportation is a “drastic measure” rather than a collateral consequence, and because it’s now almost inevitable that a vast number of noncitizens will be deported if they commit a crime, accurate legal advice is more important than ever before.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion for the 7-2 majority. He said lawyers must give accurate advice about the deportation consequences of criminal proceedings and this forms a part of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, in particular when the immigration law is “succinct, clear and explicit.”

The court found Padilla’s lawyer should have informed his client that a guilty plea carried a deportation risk. The fact he did not rendered him constitutionally deficient.

The U.S. Supreme Court said legal representation must fall “below an objective standard of reasonableness,” and there must also be “a reasonable probability,” that the result of the proceeding would have been different but for the mistakes.

Habeas Corpus is a fundamental concept that underpins freedom in the western world. It goes back a long time before 2010. Its origins can be traced to Magna Carta signed by the English King John I in 1215, which provided that: “No man shall be arrested or imprisoned…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

It’s a mechanism our attorneys use in cases when immigrants have not been properly warned of the possible consequences of deportation for their future. It’s used to challenge the legality of imprisonment. It has also been used very successfully by our Austin criminal defense attorneys to re-open cases after March 2010 when defense counsel failed to properly warn a noncitizen of his or her risk of deportation or future inadmissibility to become a U.S. citizen.

As Texas-based criminal and family immigration attorneys, we do a lot of work in helping to prevent deportations. We are ideally positioned to help noncitizens who continue to receive inaccurate legal advice in criminal proceedings which can drastically impact their immigration status.

Our team is standing by to help you in this complex legal area. To find out more about your rights and how the seasoned lawyers at Peek & Toland can help you and your case, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Uncategorized

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How Much Will a DWI Cost You in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on June 21, 2016

If you are charged with a DWI in Texas, your life is likely to be transformed overnight. You will face losing many of the things you have taken for granted. You could lose your license and possibly your liberty while the financial cost of a DWI in Texas can be astronomical.

A recent CBS study found Texas has the 11th worst record of driving after consuming alcohol in the country. The Department of Transportation estimates someone is killed or hurt in a DUI/DWI wreck every 20 minutes in our state. Texas is tough on a lot of crimes, and driving under the influence is no exception, even for your first offense.

The cost of a DWI

Although there is no hard and fast rule about how much a DWI offense will cost you, it will certainly run into thousands of dollars.

In 2010, a press release from Texas Department of Transportation stated:

“Convicted first-time DWI offenders can pay a fine of up to $2,000, lose their driver’s license for up to a year, and serve 180 days in jail. Safety officials say other costs associated with an impaired driving arrest and conviction can add up to more than $17,000 for bail, legal fees, court appearances, court-ordered classes, vehicle insurance increases, and other expenses.”

TxDOT goes on to provide an estimate of the costs for other DWI scenarios, specifically:

DWI with a Child Passenger

You can face a fine up to $10,000, up to two years’ incarceration in a state jail and the loss of your license for 180 days.

Second Offense DWI

A fine of up to $4,000, a month in jail, the loss of your license for two years and an annual fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for three years to retain your driver’s license.

Third Offense DWI

A $10,000 fine, a prison term of up two years and a fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for three years to retain your license.

If you have received two or more DWI convictions within five years, you must install an ignition interlock system that stops your vehicle being operated if you’ve been drinking alcohol. There’s an installation fee ranging from $50 to $200 and a monthly rental fee ranging from $50 to $100.

The fees in question relate to the DWI surcharge program – the Department of Public Safety calls it a driver responsibility program – that requires a payment of $1,000 a year for three years after a DWI conviction and $2,000, if your BAC was above .16 at the time of the offense. See the full table of charges here.

As well as these court costs, many people who are charged with a DWI hire a lawyer and pay legal fees. You don’t have to hire a lawyer but it can be a dangerous strategy because an attorney can help you avoid some serious traps set by the prosecution. A lawyer can uncover flaws in the case against you which could lead to you receiving a lighter sentence or even acquittal if the evidence against you is suspect or your arrest was unlawful. For instance, you may have been forced to take a blood test without giving your explicit consent. This article in NOLO, estimates your legal costs are likely to be around $2,000 and up to $5,000 if a case goes to trial.

The financial implications listed by TxDOT do not include the knock-on effects of a DWI. If you are jailed, you will lose your income, possibly your home, and future earning potential. If you are no longer able to drive, you may face expensive costs for alternative transportation. We highlight some of the potentially devastating effects of a DWI here.

Most of the people we help who have been charged with a DWI offense never thought it would happen to them. It’s a lot easier than you might think to fail a breath test.

Texas considers you to be driving over the legal limit if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more. Factors such as the amount of food you have consumed, the type of alcohol involved and your body mass index are highly relevant. It’s possible to be driving with illegal BAC levels after just a couple of alcoholic drinks.

The easiest way to avoid getting a DWI is to avoid driving after consuming alcohol. Appoint a designated driver or take Uber. We know life happens and sometimes we make mistakes. Although the costs and trauma of a DWI charge may seem overwhelming, you are not alone. At Peek & Toland , we have helped many people who face a DWI to get past it and to get their lives back on track. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Feds Set Up Fake University To Uncover Immigration Fraud Scheme

By Peek & Toland on June 20, 2016

The University of Northern New Jersey looked legitimate. It had an official-looking website, a crest and listed its tuition costs. However, it was a front set up by federal investigators to bust an alleged immigration fraud scheme.

A report on CNN Money said the university set out seven undergraduate and nine graduate degree programs and its tuition costs were $12,620 a year.

Feds set up fake university to bust visa fraud

The university’s online presence included a convincing Facebook page and it even detailed its expansion plans.

The report said the university was created by federal agents to uncover an alleged visa fraud scam.

Last month, the feds arrested 21 people accused of working with 1,000 foreigners to obtain worker visas. The arrests followed an intensive, three-year investigation into what agents described as the exploitation-for-profit of non-immigrant student visas. Arrests were made in Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. by agents working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The fake university demonstrates the elaborate measures investigators will sometimes take in their bid to uncover alleged visa fraud. Our attorneys help people who want to work in the United States to negotiate their way through a complicated visa minefield.

We also represent those who are accused of a wide range of immigration offenses which are investigated at a federal level and often carry high penalties for offenders.

The Department of Homeland Security states there are about 1.2 million overseas students currently in the United States on visas.

The 1,000 or so foreign students seeking to study in the United States at the fake university will not be arrested but their visas will be terminated and they are likely to have to leave the country, CNN reported.

It’s a different matter for the “brokers” who are accused of recruiting the students.

“Those charged and arrested are alleged to be “amongst the (immigration) system’s most egregious violators,” Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana said in a statement released last month.

ABC news reported the latest arrests came about 18 months after a news investigation detailed how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to track as many as 6,000 foreign nationals who entered the United States on student visas.  Losing track of overseas students has clear homeland security implications and keeping oversight of students on visas was a key recommendation of the 9/11 commission that was set up after the 2001 terror attacks.

If you are facing imminent deportation or immigration offenses, our Austin family immigration attorneys can help you. Contact us for a consultation today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Why Does Texas Lead the Nation for Executions?

By Peek & Toland on June 17, 2016

Texas has the dubious distinction of executing the most inmates in the country. It’s not even a close call. Since 1976, Texas carried out 537 executions of death row prisoners. Oklahoma, the second placed state, ended the lives of 112 in the same period, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

When the Supreme Court lifted its ban on executions in 1976, Texas quickly jumped on the bandwagon. It executed 167 people by the end of 1978.

Texas carries out the most executions

Some of the reasons why Texas executes more inmates than any other state are detailed in a recent PBS Frontline report. The article is based on a paper published by Houston law professor Brent Newton. They include:

1 Texas Does Not Have a Public Defenders System

While many states have public defenders, Texas relies on court-appointed lawyers who often lack experience in capital murder defenses or appeals. It is more difficult for defendants to avoid the death penalty than in a system with public defenders.

2 Judges Are Elected

Appellate judges in the Lone Star State are elected to office, which means they are more accountable to those that elect them. There is considerable pressure to show their toughness with criminals and handing down the ultimate sanction, is often beneficial to their election prospects.

3 Texas Has a More Streamlined Execution System

The system that leads to the execution chamber is dogged with delays and procedural issues in many states. Texas has worked ways of getting around many of these. A law enacted in 1995 expedited state appeals, reducing the time between conviction and execution.

4 Texas Fails to Allow Mitigating Factors to be Considered

Newton’s report stated Texas courts are often reticent about allowing mitigating evidence like the age of a defendant or a mental illness when considering capital charges.

California Has More Death Row Inmates but Fewer Executions

The approach of Texas when it comes to executions is very different from that of California which has the most inmates on death row – 745 but has only executed 13 since 1976.

If you have been charged with capital murder, you are more likely to be executed in Texas than anywhere else in the country. See our page about facing a murder charge in Texas, here. Although the use of the death penalty has decreased here in recent years, in line with a national trend, Texas still executes more people than any other state.

If you are charged with a homicide offense, you should be aware that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and you have to be very careful about what you say. Never give up any evidence that can later be used against you, including your own words. Consult a Texas criminal defense attorney before speaking to the police. Contact Peek & Toland today, and we will safeguard your rights and deal promptly with your case.

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