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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Immigration Crackdown on Vietnamese Refugees

By Peek & Toland on February 28, 2019

The Trump administration recently began pressuring Vietnam to uphold a repatriation agreement that the two countries reached in 2008, by which Vietnamese refugees were not subject to return to Vietnam if they arrived in the U.S. prior to July 12, 1995. This was established as the date that the two countries resumed diplomatic relations. Most of these individuals had fled Vietnam in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, as they feared persecution at the hands of the communist government. These refugees have been living under an unclear immigration status; if they have criminal records, they cannot obtain a legal immigration status, but they aren’t eligible to be deported, either. To date, Vietnam has steadfastly refused to take these immigrants back from the U.S.

Now, however, the administration has made it clear that it intends to abandon the repatriation agreement by deporting those Vietnamese refugees with deportable criminal offenses, which is estimated to affect as many as 8,000 individuals. After 23 years or more, many of these immigrants no longer have any ties to Vietnam; they have no family members or friends to whom they can turn if returned to Vietnam. Furthermore, as a result of these changes in federal government policy, some Vietnamese immigrants have remained detained for 11 months or more because they cannot be deported.

Immigration Crackdown on Vietnamese Refugees

While most of these immigrants have criminal records, some are decades old, or youthful indiscretions that these individuals had put behind them long ago. A class action lawsuit is still pending in a Los Angeles federal district court that seeks to challenge the indefinite detention of Vietnamese immigrants with deportation orders.
The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal representation of countless individuals facing various immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys today.

Posted in Immigration Reform

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Immigrant Workers Comprise 17% of American Workforce

By Peek & Toland on February 27, 2019

A recent report by the Urban Institute indicates that immigrant workers make up 17% of the American workforce, and much higher percentages in some cities and urban areas. These workers have been in the U.S. for 17 years, on average, and have a median age of 41. Just under 50% of these workers have limited English proficiency. Median annual wages for these workers are $29,407, but many wages are lower for those in lower-skilled jobs. Those immigrants in lower and middle-skilled jobs earn less than their American counterparts in the same jobs. About 25% of these workers have less than a high school diploma or its equivalent, which is a higher rate than for Americans, which is about five percent.

Immigrants fill many lower-skilled jobs that are necessary parts of our workforce, including home health care aides, custodial workers, and construction laborers. Limited English proficiency and difficulties transferring job skills, experience, and credentials from their native countries to the U.S. present barriers to obtaining better education, training, and employment. Immigrants also have limited opportunities to improve their language and technical skills that might enable them to seek better jobs or higher wages.

Immigrant Workers Comprise 17% of American Workforce

As there are currently low unemployment rates in the U.S., American employers increasingly need workers with bilingual and cultural skills. There also is a large need to fill mid-level jobs, which immigrants are just as likely to fill as American workers. While as many as one-third of immigrant workers hold advanced degrees, they often are underemployed in professional jobs due to an inability to transfer skills from a profession in one country to the same profession in the U.S.

Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to helping both individuals and businesses resolve their immigration-related issues. Immigration law is a complex, ever-changing area of the law that necessitates legal advice from experienced immigration lawyers who keep up-to-date with all relevant changes in law and policy. We will work with you to achieve the most positive outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled immigration attorneys today.

Posted in Immigration

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Removing the Conditions on an EB-5 Visa

By Peek & Toland on February 26, 2019

An investor with an EB-5 visa is admitted to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident. This visa lasts two years. If investors wish to remain in the U.S. at that point, they will need to file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to remove the conditions from their permanent resident status.

Within 90 days of the second anniversary of the date that they were admitted to the U.S. as conditional permanent residents under EB-5 visas, investors should file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status with USCIS. If USCIS grants the petition, the conditions will be removed from the EB-5 visa investor’s permanent residence and any dependents who were included on the visa.

Removing the Conditions on an EB-5 Visa

Along with the petition, you must submit a $3,750 fee, plus a $85 biometrics fee for the petitioner, as well as for each current or former conditional permanent resident spouse or children included on the petition as a dependent. Additionally, you must provide evidence that:

• A lawful business entity has been established in the U.S.
• If applicable, the enterprise was established in a targeted employment area
• The investor has invested or is in the process of investing the amount required for the area in which is the business is located
• The capital used for the investment was earned or derived from lawful means
• The business is expected to create at least 10 full-time positions for American workers
• The investor will be engaged in the day-to-day management of the business operations

When you or a loved one is facing an immigration law dilemma involving an EB-5 visa or another issue, you need legal advice and counsel from experienced Texas immigration attorneys. At Peek & Toland, we are here to help you with your immigration case. We will devote all our efforts to representing your interests, answering your questions, and calming your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact Peek & Toland and schedule a time to meet with us today. We can help protect your rights and get you the relief that you need.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

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Is It Illegal to Grow Marijuana in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on February 25, 2019

There are no specific Texas laws that prohibit the cultivation or growing of marijuana. However, other laws prohibiting marijuana still make growing marijuana illegal in the state. Growing marijuana is a crime of marijuana possession in Texas.

Is It Illegal to Grow Marijuana in Texas?

Charges and penalties for marijuana vary widely according to the amount of marijuana that you are accused of possessing. Tex. Health and Safety Code § 481.121 sets forth the penalties for possession of marijuana based on weight:

• Two ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor
• Two to four ounces: Class A misdemeanor
• Four ounces to five pounds: State jail felony
• Five to 50 pounds: Felony of the third degree
• 50 to 2,000 pounds: Felony of the second degree
• More than 2,000 pounds: Felony carrying a potential sentence of five to 99 years in prison or a life sentence, in addition to a fine of up to $50,000

Due to this wide range of penalties, sentences of incarceration can vary widely. A Class B misdemeanor carries the potential for a jail sentence of no more than 180 days, whereas a second degree felony conviction could result in up to 20 years in prison. It is essentially only very small amounts of marijuana possessed for personal usage that result in misdemeanor charges under Texas law.

If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that all of your rights a protected at all stages of your criminal proceedings. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

Posted in Drug Crimes

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Tips for Businesses Seeking EB-5 Funding

By Peek & Toland on February 24, 2019

The EB-5 immigrant investor program permits foreign investors to obtain a green card and an eventual means of U.S. citizenship when they invest in new commercial enterprises in the United States that are designed to create jobs. Each project requires that an investment of $1 million create at least ten new full-time jobs for U.S. workers. This option is a highly attractive and beneficial way to gain investor financing.

To more effective secure EB-5 funding, your proposed enterprise will need to stand out from all of the other potential projects. A strong marketing campaign is a necessity, since competition among EB-5 projects for funding is quite high. Any successful project will have to appeal to potential investors and address any concerns by investors, such as in the area of security. You also will need to address any risks and the overall feasibility of the project. You will have to be honest, transparent, and very specific about how your project will create jobs.

Tips for Businesses Seeking EB-5 Funding

Regional centers may make it easier for projects looking for EB-5 funding. These centers are designated by geographical area and industry, and often cover areas that are deemed targeted employment or rural areas. Targeted employment areas, in particular, may be more attractive for investors because they require only a $500,000 investment. Working with regional centers also allows you to count jobs that are indirectly created by the project toward your total number of jobs created, which you cannot do with projects not affiliated with regional centers.

You also may choose to make it easier for investors by applying for exemplar status from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which essentially pre-approves your project. Obtaining this pre-approval gives your investors shorter waiting times. However, getting exemplar status is not an easy process and may take up to two years to achieve.

Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

Posted in Immigration

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What is Community Supervision and How Does It Work?

By Peek & Toland on February 23, 2019

Community supervision, which is often referred to as probation, is a commonly-used alternative to jail sentences when individuals have committed criminal offenses. There may be a number of reasons that a judge decides or the state agrees sentence an individual to a term of community supervision as opposed to a jail sentence. For instance, the jail may be overcrowded, or a jail sentence may seem disproportionately harsh for a certain offense.

While practices differ from one Texas county to the next, community supervision typically requires that you meet with a probation officer about once a month. For more serious offenses, you may be required to undergo in-home visits by a probation officer. Other conditions of probation may vary, but they usually require you to comply with all state and federal laws, maintain a job, pay all court-ordered fines, fees, and child support, complete community service hours, and remain drug and/or alcohol free. You could be subject to random drug and/or alcohol testing in order to ensure compliance.

What is Community Supervision and How Does It Work?

If you violate the terms of your community supervision, you could face sanctions. Specifically, the prosecution could file a petition to revoke your probation with the court. You are entitled to a hearing on any allegations of revocation of probation, at which the state’s attorneys must prove that you violated the conditions of your probation by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a less stringent standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to convict individuals of criminal offenses.

Depending on the results of that petition, you could end up serving a jail or prison sentence. For example, if you are deferred adjudication probation, you could be sentenced to a term of incarceration that is equal to the maximum sentence available for the underlying offense. If you are on straight probation, or probation following a conviction for a crime, then you are limited to serving the term of incarceration that you were given at the time of conviction.

If you find yourself charged with any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights. Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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What is an Affidavit of Support?

By Peek & Toland on February 22, 2019

An affidavit of support is a legally enforceable sworn statement of an individual to accept financial responsibility for another person who is coming to live in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Individuals typically execute an affidavit of support to submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when they are filing an immigration petition to sponsor another individual, who is usually a relative, to come to the U.S. to live permanently.

The legal responsibility undertaken in an affidavit of support typically remains in effect until the sponsored individual becomes a U.S. citizen or completes 40 quarters of work, which amounts to about ten years. Those who are required to submit an affidavit of support to USCIS include those who are seeking to sponsor the following individuals to come and live permanently in the U.S.:

• All immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, including parents, spouses, and unmarried children who are under the age of 21
• Relatives who qualify under family-based preferences, including:
o First preference – unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are over the age of 21
o Second preference – spouses, unmarried children, and unmarried grandchildren of legal permanent residents
o Third preference – married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their unmarried children
o Fourth preference – brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their unmarried children
• Employment-based preference immigrants only when a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident relative has filed the immigrant visa petition, or the relative has a five percent or greater ownership interest in the entity that filed the petition

What is an Affidavit of Support?

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any type of relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. It is our intention to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Immigration

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Misapplication of Fiduciary Property

By Peek & Toland on February 21, 2019

Misapplication of fiduciary property is a criminal offense that was created in order to protect the beneficiaries of trusts, estates, and receiverships. Individuals commit this offense if they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly misapply property that they hold as a fiduciary in a way that creates a substantial risk of loss to the owner of the property. A substantial risk of loss simply means that it is “more likely than not” that loss to the owner of the property will occur.

Persons who act as fiduciaries have the authority to possess and/or handle property belonging to others under a law or a legally valid agreement. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 32.45, a fiduciary includes persons in the following positions:

• Trustees, guardians, administrators, executors, conservators, and receivers
• Attorneys in fact or agents appointed under durable powers of attorney
• Any other persons acting in a fiduciary capacity
• Officers, managers, employees, or agents carrying on fiduciary functions on behalf of a fiduciary

The level of the charge of the misapplication of fiduciary property offense and the resulting penalties is largely dependent on the value of the property that the fiduciary has misapplied. However, if the person harmed by the offense is an elderly person, then the level of the offense automatically increases to the next higher level.

Misapplication of Fiduciary Property

Therefore, this offense ranges from a Class C misdemeanor charge for the misapplication of property valued at less than $100 to a felony of the first degree charge if the value of the misapplied property is $300,000 or more. As is the case with many theft and fraud crimes under Texas law, this offense generally does not become a felony offense until the value of the misapplied property is worth more than $2,500.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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What is Double Jeopardy?

By Peek & Toland on February 20, 2019

If a judge or jury finds someone guilty of committing a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then he or she is convicted of the crime and sentenced accordingly. Once that conviction occurs, however, that person cannot be charged or tried again for the same crime at a later date. Convicting a person twice for the same criminal offense is known as double jeopardy, and the law prohibits it.

The purpose of double jeopardy is to ensure the due process and constitutional rights of the person who is accused of the crime. If the prohibition against double jeopardy did not exist, then the person would run the risk of being punished twice for the same criminal offense, or to face additional penalties for a crime of which they already have been convicted.

What is Double Jeopardy?

Double jeopardy does not come into play when a person is arrested or even charged with a crime. Typically, it is does apply until a criminal trial starts, usually after the lawyers have selected a jury and the judge has sworn in the jury.

As a result, if the prosecutor files charges of theft against a person, but later files to dismiss the charges due to a lack of evidence, double jeopardy has not yet attached. This means that theoretically, the prosecution could refile the same criminal charges against the same person if they later discover more evidence in support of the charges. In this same scenario, if the prosecution already had conducted a trial on the theft charges, and the jury acquitted the person, or found him not guilty of the charges, double jeopardy would prevent the prosecution for charging the person with the same crime in the future, even if additional evidence came to light that proved the person’s guilt.

If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Smuggling Contraband into Jails and Prisons

By Peek & Toland on February 19, 2019

Some individuals who are going to jail or prison attempt to smuggle contraband into the facility, whether the prohibited items are cigarettes, drugs, cellphones, or weapons. Once incarcerated, individuals still may attempt to access contraband from friends and family members who come to visit them or send them mail. They also may attempt to get prohibited items from guards or jail staff members, usually in exchange for money or some other benefit. More recently, individuals have even used drones to deliver contraband to inmates in prison and jail yards and outdoor recreational areas.

While the inmates themselves can be charged with a crime or lose privileges or status due to being found with contraband, individuals who assist inmates in smuggling contraband into jails and prisons can face criminal charges, as well. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 38.11, it is illegal to provide, or possess with intent to provide, contraband to individuals in correctional facilities. These facilities include all city or county jails, state or privately-run prisons, and community correction facilities, such as halfway houses.

Smuggling Contraband into Jails and Prisons

Prohibited items include alcohol, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, deadly weapons, cell phones, money, and cigarettes or tobacco, unless it is a local jail that expressly permits inmates to have tobacco in certain areas or under certain circumstances. There also are exceptions to this offense for drugs prescribed to inmates by doctors and peace officers carrying weapons into these facilities.

Similarly, pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 38.114, it is a Class C misdemeanor to provide an incarcerated person with contraband, otherwise introduce it into a correctional facility, or possess it while incarcerated. However, the offense becomes a Class B misdemeanor if it is committed by an employee of or volunteer at the correctional facility.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges relating to the smuggling of contraband into jails and prisons. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

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