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Increase in Texas Charges for Alien Smuggling

By Peek & Toland on August 25, 2021

In the past, we’ve covered what alien smuggling is and what to do if you are facing an alien smuggling charge. We want to take a closer look at the risks associated with aiding illegal border crossing into Texas, the possible penalties and years in prison you face if convicted, and the options you have for a strong criminal defense.

What is Alien Smuggling?

The federal code for illegal alien smuggling is any act in any way at any time that assists somebody with the unlawful entry into the United States, and we’ve covered some of the details and misconceptions surrounding that federal violation that you should review for better knowledge and understanding of illegal border crossing and alien smuggling.

Hello, and welcome back to In Your Defense. I’m attorney Steve Toland. I want to spend a little time today talking about the state charge of alien smuggling, and that’s giving someone a ride who doesn’t have legal status in the United States, uh, with the intent to help them avoid being detected by authorities. And believe it or not, we’re seeing an incredible amount of state charges being brought for people doing that. And in the past, we had only seen, uh, the federal charge of illegal alien smuggling.

The federal code for illegal alien smuggling is quite broad, but the Texas penal code includes several types of offense that can increase the penalties you face if convicted of the crime of aiding someone in illegal border crossing.

What is illegal alien smuggling exactly? It’s when you, with prior knowledge, agree to give a ride to an illegal immigrant who is unlawfully crossing the border into the U.S., help them avoid detection, or to conceal them in any way. The laws concerning this unlawful act include several aspects of the crime that and greatly affect your criminal charges and your criminal defense strategy.

Felony Charges for Illegal Alien Smuggling

Simply being apprehended in the act of harboring an illegal immigrant with intent to illegally cross the border places you at great risk for a third-degree felony. Texas code includes additional charges and penalties for the receipt of pecuniary funds.

What are pecuniary funds in relation to illegal alien smuggling? That’s just a really convoluted way of saying you received payment for the illegal act of harboring and aiding an illegal immigrant in their crossing the border. The definition if this illegal aspect is quite broad, so even receiving gas money from an illegal immigrant in the process of this crime can be construed as pecuniary funds and can be used against you to raise the degree of your suspected crime.

You could possibly face 10 years in prison if caught and convicted of this crime, and you could be looking at much more serious charges and penalties for smuggling an illegal immigrant who is under the age of 18. Our sagest immigration and criminal defense law advice is to NOT commit these crimes, and we want to be sure you know that harboring and transporting an illegal immigrant minor will bump up that third degree felony to a second degree felony.

The safety or potential peril of the illegal immigrants you are harboring and transporting also weighs heavily on the charges and penalties you will face if caught. Think of common driving infractions like speeding, occupant capacity, and seatbelt infractions, and know that any and all of those crimes can make the charges for the offense of illegal alien smuggling skyrocket.

Any aspect of the transportation that could cause serious bodily harm to the illegal immigrants you are harboring increases the penalties you face, especially if anyone in your care is killed in the midst of the journey. These types of offense can land you in prison for up to 20 years.

An illegal alien smuggling charge can even end up being a first degree felony if it is learned that, as a result of you transporting them, an illegal immigrant you helped transport to the U.S. ends up being a victim of sexual assault.

So, a simple favor for a friend of a friend can quickly escalate and leave you facing criminal charges. If you or a loved one have questions about immigration law, illegal alien smuggling charges, or need other legal advice on a strong criminal defense from well-practiced attorneys and experts with over 20 years of experience and hundreds of immigration cases under their belt, please call us as soon as possible. We’re always here to help.

Immigration News: Tourist Visa to Student Visa

By Peek & Toland on August 11, 2021

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a policy change that affects anyone visiting the United States who wishes to study in the United States under the F-1 student visa. It’s an exciting policy that will help international students stay in the United States with far less paperwork and hassle in their visa application process.

B-1/B-2 Status to F-1 Status

Many hopeful international students enter the United States as visitors from their home country under the B 1/B 2 visa category (tourist visas) with the plan to become a full-time student in an academic program at a university or other academic institution in the U.S., and this change to international student status just became a much easier process.

If you know anything about the process to change your visa status, you know it can be quite a tricky and cumbersome endeavor, one that often requires you to depart the United States to account for a gap in status or fie multiple extensions on your change of status (COS). Well, that’s no longer the case.

Applicants for Change of Status to F-1 Student No Longer Need to Submit Subsequent Applications for Gap Period

This announcement means you no longer have to file those additional extension applications if your current visa status’s expiration date occurs prior to your course of study as an international student in the U.S., so long as you file your application to change to F-1 visa status before your tourist or other visa status reaches its expiration date.

Incoming international students must remember that timelines when filing their application for a student visa is of the utmost importance, so they may be eligible to remain in the U.S. without having to depart the United States upon their previous visa’s expiration date to account for the gap period with time in another or their home country.

Important Information on F-1 Eligibility

This change in immigration filing and policy does not mean international students may be eligible to remain in the U.S. and attend their academic program if they fail to comply with the stipulations on the F-1 visa.

If United States Citizen and Immigration Services approves an application more than 30 days before the student’s academic program start date, the student must ensure they do not violate their F-1 status during that time with violations such as engaging in employment, including on-campus employment, more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on their Form I-20.

If you have questions about your visa status or need help filing an application or form, so you may engage in an academic program in the U.S., or if you are in any kind of visa application process, we’d love to advise you on that. Also, if you have a pathway to residency or pathway to work visa, give us a call. We’d love to help you complete the process.

How to Stop Removal Proceedings with Administrative Closure

By Peek & Toland on August 4, 2021

We’ve recently covered prosecutorial discretion and how immigration court cases for removal may be dismissed or postponed. We’re going to look at some great news from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that will affect anyone who is currently wading the backlog of U.S. immigration proceedings and is at risk for removal.

On July 15, Attorney General Garland issued a decision on a previous decision to end the practice of administrative closure made by Attorney General Sessions under the guise of security from the Trump administration and its more restrictive immigration policies.

The new decision to reinstate administrative closure is a form of relief for immigrants facing deportation and also for judges and the court backlog of immigration active docket cases under review.

Let’s take a look at this prosecutorial discretion tool and how it can affect your legal status in the U.S.

What is administrative closure?

Administrative closure is a docket management tool that could be used to temporarily pause removal proceedings – – administrative proceedings to determine an individual’s removability under United States immigration law.

What does administrative closure do?

The use of administrative closure does not entirely terminate or dismiss an immigration case. But it allows the court system to remove an immigration case from an immigration judge or from the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) docket, which has an overwhelming backlog of immigration cases to review.

It might sound like this practice of prosecutorial discretion is for the benefit of immigration judges, and it is, but it could actually benefit many immigrants who are facing immigration proceedings.

How does administrative closure affect your immigration case?

We all know that there are plenty of hard-working immigrants here with illegal status. Many who are at risk for deportation have built their lives in the U.S. and have families who rely upon them. Unfortunately, a great deal of these people happen to be in the middle of removal proceedings, even though they have a clear pathway to residency and have been a great asset to their community.

It’s clear that DACA dreamers, immigrants here seeking asylum, and immigrants with spouses and family are on the road to legal status in the U.S. However, it’s still under the discretion of an immigration judge and the prosecutor to determine who should and should not be facing a case of imminent removal from the U.S.

Through this prosecutorial discretion, an immigration court judge can focus on factors that make certain immigrants more deserving of legal status and the reasons that some undocumented people should remain in the backlog of removal proceedings.

Illegal immigrants with pending removal from the U.S. who have not committed serious and violent offenses are much more likely to receive a favorable decision from the office for immigration review.

To administratively close a pending immigration case, this form of prosecutorial discretion allows an immigration attorney to form a very strong application to approach the prosecutor and argue the merit of an upstanding immigrant who is on the cusp of residency in the U.S.

The data has shown the Trump administration and their decision to end this form of prosecutorial discretion have only worked to create a more dense backlog of immigration court cases pending review. Hence, the decision to reinstate this practice is music to our ears.

Prosecutorial discretion is an amazing tool and form of relief for the immigration court’s attempt to get back to a better functioning level of government, but more importantly, it’s another means for immigrants to quickly move forward on a pathway to some kind of status in the U.S.

If you have questions about your immigration status and whether or not you or someone you love are in deportation proceedings, it’s important to have a trusted and experienced immigration lawyer to take advantage of the practice of administrative closure and report the merits of your case to the BIA.

Reach out to one of our trusted immigration attorneys to see if this decision might be the opportunity for you or your loved one to get out of deportation proceedings and stay in this country until a legal status can be obtained.

We will continue to report the news from immigration courts that affect you and our American immigration process.

New Decision on DACA

By Peek & Toland on July 28, 2021

If you follow along with us on social media, you know that we’re extremely dedicated to reviewing and sharing the latest immigration news that affects you, and we have some news on a DACA ruling from a federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen. This court ruling is one you definitely want to pay attention to, especially if you’re undocumented and are seeking protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy.

Let’s take a look at what DACA is, who is eligible, and how this recent decision in Texas will affect the ways immigrants pursue an adjustment of status and pathway to citizenship.

What is DACA?

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a policy in which certain people who entered the U.S. as children and meet various guidelines may request consideration of deferred action from the government for a period of two years, which is then subject to renewal. People covered under this policy (referred to as dreamers) are also eligible for work authorization, which helps to further solidify a successful future in the U.S.

The DACA program has seen various changes and challenges from President Trump and the Trump Administration. It has gone through review in a court’s decision since its inception under President Obama. This most recent July 2021 ruling will not affect current DACA recipients or applicants, but it most definitely interests future dreamers in their pathway to citizenship.

Let’s review this latest ruling on a very popular immigration program for undocumented persons brought to the U.S. as a child.

July 2021 Decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

As mentioned, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that the DACA policy “is illegal.” The Court granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claims; vacated June 15, 2012, DACA memorandum issued by former Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano; remanded the memorandum to DHS for further consideration; and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the government’s continued administration of DACA and the reimplementation of DACA without compliance with the APA.

What does Judge Andrew Hanen’s DACA judgment mean in plain terms?

Unfortunately, and hopefully only temporarily, the Department of Homeland Security is prohibited from granting initial DACA requests and accompanying requests for employment authorization. Initial request means it is your very first request for protection and resources from the DACA program.

Judge Andrew Hanen may have ruled on this issue, but it is not a permanent ban on DACA. It’s not foolish to get your hopes up on the federal court decision, as there could be (highly likely) an appeal. 

DACA program hopefuls should still work with their immigration attorney to search for and compile the necessary documents to apply for this program’s protection. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to accept the filing of both initial and renewal DACA requests, as well as accompanying requests for employment authorization.

The caveat is that DHS will not be from granting new DACA requests.

What is going to happen to people who have been protected by DACA up until now?

If you already had DACA and you were in the process of renewing it every two years, you can keep submitting renewal requests for continued future protection.

While we wait for an appeal on the law surrounding this program to change or for the Biden Administration to take action, we encourage immigrants seeking adjustment of status or permanent residency to reach out to one of our trusted and practiced immigration attorneys at Peek & Toland. We understand the processes of applications and are passionate about helping undocumented persons secure their future.

Continue to follow along with us on social media as we continue to break down the latest legal decisions and rulings that affect dreamers and all who come to the United States in search of resources and happiness.

Pathway to Permanent Residency through Investor Visas

By Peek & Toland on July 14, 2021

Can you buy your pathway to permanent residency or legal time in the United States? In a way, the answer is yes, and a few options that fit that mold are the EB-5 and E-2 visas, also known as investor visas.

You can probably guess that there are stipulations involved with obtaining and using these visas, and you can’t just haphazardly throw money at the U.S. government in order to live and work here. So, what are these two visas, what sets them apart, and how can you use them to create a pathway to permanent residency or business presence in the U.S.?

Let’s take a look at the EB-5 and E-2 visas to find out which option is best for you.

 EB-5 Visa

 The EB-5 visa, also known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, is a 30+-year-old program created to entice foreign investors to invest in U.S. businesses that will generate at least 10 jobs in the U.S. In exchange for this type of investment into a business that proves successful in job creation, foreign nationals and their families are eligible to gain permanent residency in the U.S.

Yes, this is essentially a pay-to-play program, but it’s one that legitimizes immigrants’ intentions to live and work in the U.S. while being contributing members of society. As you can imagine, there is an entire industry in the U.S. devoted solely to securing foreign investments from eligible foreign nationals. Most of these investment firms work in conjunction with the real estate industry for capital investments in every kind of building structure you can imagine.

If real estate isn’t your passion and you have a desire to invest in or create U.S. businesses for a pathway to permanent residency, the EB-5 could be an incredible opportunity for you and your future.

There are investment minimums that apply for eligibility for this program, and the Trump administration attempted to raise those minimums. That increase was overruled, however, and you can learn more about those investment minimums here

But, what if you have no real interest in securing residency, but you’d like to invest in a U.S. business and be able to come and go as you please to check on your investments? There’s an option for that, and it comes in the form of E-2 visas.

E-2 Visa

The E-2 visa, also known as E-2 Treaty Investors, is a program similar to the E-5 visa in that it incentivizes foreign investment into U.S. business. The difference, though, is that this option does not provide a direct pathway to residency.

The E-2 visa is what we call a flexible option—it permits a national of a treaty country to come and go in the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Additionally, certain employees of said national or of a qualifying organization may also have the same benefits.

What’s even better about the E-2 visa? There are no investment minimums like those of the EB-5 visa, making this option much more attainable for foreign nationals. The approval for investment and entry into the U.S. for said investment is based on your business plan or idea, but this process requires investment prior to the actual application. Some folks take issue with that, but one of our experienced immigration attorneys can talk you through that process and explain why that leap of faith is beneficial.

 This visa option has no limit on renewals, so you could perpetually renew your visa and maintain travel and working life between your country of origin and the U.S.

 If you have questions about the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa, or any other means to be in the U.S. lawfully, please reach out to us today. These are very complicated and complex options, and we’d be more than happy to explore all these avenues with you to find the best choice for you and your investment goals.

 Continue to follow us on social media and check back in on the blog as we continue to break down the immigration and criminal defense issues that affect you.

Where has ICE gone?

By Peek & Toland on July 8, 2021

If you’ve paid any attention to the news, or maybe you’ve even been stopped and not detained, you know that immigration detention populations are plummeting.

We’ve not been seeing people be detained as we have in years past. So, where is ICE, and do you need to worry? Let’s take a look at the discretionary prosecution by Immigration and cover what you really need to know.

https://youtu.be/vRHZ0fG8spA

Criminal Charges Without Detainers

Before the Biden administration’s memo regarding prosecutorial discretion for immigration cases, we were seeing immigration detainers for any arrest—anything from a traffic ticket to felony charges. That means ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement, would quickly slap a detainer on you, even if you’d paid your bond for the criminal charge on which you were arrested.

Remember, though, not every person is eligible for this prosecutorial discretion policy. So, for example, if you arrived in the U.S. after November 1, 2020, if you are a convicted aggravated felon or a terrorist, you’re on the ineligibility list.

Notice how I said convicted? That’s important. Being charged with a felony crime doesn’t mean you’re automatically ineligible for prosecutorial discretion. You have to have been convicted, which is all the more reason for you to have not only a good immigration lawyer but a strong criminal defense attorney.

You’re in luck, though, because that’s exactly what we do and have done at Peek & Toland for the last 16 years.

Are You in the Clear?

So, what we all want to know is if this policy will last forever. That would be great, right? But, unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball, so we don’t know if or when this policy will change, as immigration practices are ever-evolving.

Whether or not the prosecutorial discretion policy lasts until the end of time isn’t much comfort if you face a criminal charge. ICE is ignoring most folks getting arrested for the moment. However, that doesn’t mean your criminal charges will be ignored, and it doesn’t mean ICE will continue to ignore undocumented persons who have been arrested.

Don’t risk your future in the U.S. Give our trusted immigration and criminal defense attorneys a call to discuss your options and secure your future in this most opportune time.

Continue to follow us on social media as we dissect the immigration and criminal defense issues that matter to you.

Work Permit Approval for Pending U Visa Applicants

By Peek & Toland on June 30, 2021

We’re very pleased that the Biden administration announced a new policy granting legal protections pending U visa applicants. 

But who does this affect, and how? Victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Congress only allows the government to issue 10,000 U visas a year, leaving many other applicants on a waiting list for future years and vulnerable to deportation. 

Under the new policy, the government will review all U visa applicants and will begin the process of granting four-year work permits. 

This will give applicants the ability to “work and remain safely in the United States while they provide valuable support to law enforcement to detect, investigate or prosecute the serious crimes they have survived or witnessed,” the acting director of the United States Citizen said. 

 Must Be Bona Fide

 Immigration will be reviewing all applicants for U visas to consider their eligibility for a work permit, but only applications deemed bona fide.

 Well, what does bona fide mean? When it comes to U visa applicants, bona fide means that you are a qualifying victim under the laws of the U visa. A very clear list of crimes perpetrated against undocumented persons by a lawful permanent resident or US citizen makes an applicant bona fide. 

 The most common eligible crimes committed against an undocumented person are domestic violence, felonies, any felony-level assault, sexual assault, aggravated robberies, and mostly anything with the word “aggravated” in it.

 If you’ve ever been a victim of one of those crimes, you are eligible for this work permit consideration, but there’s one caveat.

 Cooperation

Having survived any one of these crimes is enough to make you eligible for the consideration, but only if you’ve cooperated with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office throughout the investigation and in court.

 We all know that undocumented people are often fearful of coming forward to report wrongdoing, even if it’s something that has harmed them. This new policy will incentivize coming forward, which will help pending U visa applicants and help put violent and harmful criminals behind bars. Cooperation is imperative.

Timeframe

Unlike other immigration policies, this new policy applies to applications that have already been submitted and future applications, which is incredible news for our clients.

If you or someone you know has a pending U visa application or is eligible under the guidelines we’ve discussed here, it’s important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call to discuss your options. We’d be happy to assist you with the benefits of this new policy.

 As always, we’ll continue keeping abreast of all the evolving immigration policies that are important to you. Keep following us on social media for updates on that news.

Biden Memo Allows ICE Attorneys Prosecutorial Discretion to Drop Immigration Cases

By Peek & Toland on June 16, 2021

If you follow along with our immigration updates, you’re probably just as invested in the much-anticipated immigration policy change we’ve been expecting from the Biden Administration. Well, it’s here, and it could mean big things for your immigration proceedings. So let’s take a look.

Prosecutorial Discretion – What it Is and How it Can Help You

Prosecutorial discretion is leeway, flexibility, the room to decide how an immigration case is prosecuted, if at all. So, this guidance from chief ICE attorney, John Trasviña, appointed by President Biden, denotes an enormous change in how ICE pursues deportation orders. The prosecutorial discretion outlined in the May 27 memo emphasizes the discretion prosecutors have in court, which could lead to more immigrants having the ability to have their case postponed to a more favorable time or even dismiss their case entirely.

 Who is Eligible?

While the memo’s language allows for interpretation and discretion on handling cases by ICE attorneys, it is quite clear who is NOT able to benefit from this consideration, and there are three classifications of ineligibility.

This might sound disheartening, but it’s not to dash your hopes, and you’re likely not part of the groups who are excluded from this discretion. Let’s take a look.

First, anyone facing immigration proceedings classified as a national risk will not benefit from this new immigration guideline. What’s a national risk, you ask—think terrorists, spies, or anyone at risk of damaging the U.S. If you’ve been here, working hard, and staying out of trouble, you shouldn’t have to worry about this one. Most folks don’t.

Next, if you’ve been convicted of an aggravated felony, you aren’t covered by this new guideline. Notice how I said convicted. That’s important. So what is classified as an aggravated felony? There is quite a list for those but think of violent crimes, crimes involving children, drug trafficking, and burglary convictions with a sentence over a year. If you have some traffic violations or small criminal charges, you can still be eligible for the benefits of this policy change.

Third, and this is the disappointing one, this new guideline does not cover undocumented people who came to the U.S. after November 1, 2020. Only a small percentage of undocumented people arrived after November 1, 2020, so hopefully, that stipulation will not affect your case.

Strong Defense

If you are not excluded from this new guideline for any of the reasons I mentioned above, it is imperative that you speak with your immigration attorney immediately to cover any line of defense against deportation. This guideline offers allowanced for “compelling humanitarian factors,” such as whether or not someone is a caregiver, victim of a crime, or seeking asylum.

If your defense in those circumstances isn’t the strongest, you can certainly carry out your immigration proceedings and cross your fingers that the judge rules in your favor; however, this prosecutorial discretion allows your immigration attorney to make an argument as to why you may be deserving of some extra consideration, which could mean you’re staying in the U.S.

This ruling, which came down from the very top, allows immigration courts to reopen at a limited capacity and start their caseload rotation. We expect that to happen this fall, which will be here before you know it. If you or someone you know is facing immigration proceedings and would like more information about prosecutorial discretion, please reach out to one of our experienced immigration attorneys today.

Continue to follow along with us on social media to keep up with the latest immigration news that affects you.

H-2B Visas Update: Biden Administration Announced More H-2B Visas

By Peek & Toland on June 4, 2021

The worker shortage in the U.S. has been flooding the news cycle for months now. So it comes as no surprise that employers are reaching out to us en masse to find out when, where, and how they can recruit immigrant workers to fill the void.

If you’re scrambling to complete projects and are frustrated with the lack of willing and able workers available, you’ll be happy to know that the Biden Administration has heard your cries and taken action. The Biden Administration recently made 22,000 additional H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers visas available to employers through the end of the second half of the 2021 fiscal year.

So what are the H-2B visas, and how do employers utilize this additional allotment of them?

H-2B visas allow skilled and unskilled, non-agricultural workers from outside of the U.S. to enter the U.S. with their spouse and children if they have a job offer and employee sponsorship. It’s a common misconception that migrant workers are strictly for agriculture jobs, but these H-2B visas are used for myriad types of employment, including construction, home health, and even professional sports and entertainment.

 So, why is it so difficult to fill the void of workers in the U.S.?

 H-2B visas are great, and they’re incredibly helpful. In fact, they’re so good they are in too high demand. Unfortunately, there is a limit on the amount of H-2B visas available each year. 66,000 to be exact; however, that’s still not adequate to cover the number of applicants in need of these visas.

These 66,000 H-2B visas are released in two parts: 33,000 twice a year. To wrap your head around this supply and demand issue, know that there were over 95,000 applications sent for the 33,000 H-2B visas released in January 2021—that’s nearly three times the amount of H-2B visas available for just one half of the year.

There is a lottery system through which H-2B visas may be obtained, but that’s certainly no guarantee or peace of mind for the countless employers attempting to stock their workforce. The good news is that the Biden administration released 22,000 additional visas to aid in the demand, but 16,000 of those are solely allotted to workers who have previously held the H-2B visa—not very lucky for new employers and workers. Also, the remaining 6,000 extra H-2B visas allotted are strictly for workers from the Northern Triangle of countries: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The issue is that recruiting workers from that area has historically been difficult for employers here unless they personally know someone with friends or family in those countries. 

Facing the Challenge of H-2B Visa

If all of this sounds like less-than-stellar news, it’s not because we want to discourage you; more so, we want to make sure you are aware of the challenges you will face with this process.

H-2B visas are not a lost cause, and we’ve helped many companies acquire H-2B visas for their migrant workers. If you need to bring in workers for the October release of H-2B visas, now is the time to get all of your paperwork and requirements in order.

Please reach out to our trusted immigration attorneys and continue to follow us on social media for the immigration and criminal defense updates that affect you.

Reopening Immigration Courts in Texas

By Peek & Toland on June 2, 2021

The pandemic has changed our way of life in every facet, and the court system is not immune to that change. As you might know, immigration courts here have not been open, but that’s all about to change.

 We’ve just learned that immigration courts in San Antonio are set to reopen right after the 4th of July holiday weekend on July 6th.

 We’re already into June, and July will be here before you know it. So, what do you need to know if you have an upcoming immigration court date? Let’s cover a few items.

 Courts Are Open, Somewhat

Yes, I know I just said that immigration courts in San Antonio are set to reopen, but it’s important to your case and future to understand that the courts will not be operating at full capacity. Only four immigration courts in San Antonio are going to open in July. Why is the decreased capacity of operational courts important to you? The trickle of cases into the court means more time to prepare a defense and look for policy change that can affect the outcome of your case—more on that later.

This small-scale court system means that the few judges who can preside over immigration cases will likely be focused on individual hearings, better known as removal hearings. This is the big one, the one most important to any undocumented person’s case and future.

 If you have an upcoming case in immigration court scheduled for July and the months following, NOW is the time to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to build proper defense and strategy, as these final hearings will be most prevalent.

 Possible Strategies

 If you follow along with us on social media, you know we’ve spoken in-depth about the Niz-Chavez v. Garland decision, which can quite possibly shield thousands of immigrants from deportation. If your attorney has not gone over this possibility with you, please be sure to read up on this decision in our blog and put it on your list of items to cover in your next defense strategy meeting with your attorney. It’s a big one that could be a stepping stone to secure your future.

Another strategy that’s worth mentioning is more or less a “fingers crossed” situation, but it’s a real option. Remember how we mentioned a possible policy change that could significantly affect your case in your favor? This is what I mean. The Biden Administration is facing pressure to reverse many of the Trump-era immigration decisions. The more you can prolong the time before appearing in immigration court, the more likely it will be that immigration policies will change in your favor. Fingers crossed, time is on your side. 

 You want to keep an eye out for and continue following along with us to see change, specifically regarding Administrative Closure. What’s Administrative Closure? Administrative Closure is a process by which the government can agree with the attorney or the immigrant to pause their removal proceedings and place them outside of removal proceedings for all purposes, allowing the immigrant to remain in the U.S.

We’re very hopeful that the Biden Administration will reverse some of those tough, Trump-era immigration policies. We cannot stress to you enough the importance of having experienced immigration counsel when facing possible deportation.

In short, try to stay here as long as you can in hopes of a policy change and create a strong defense strategy with your immigration attorney. If you are unsure of your court date or are in other areas of Texas, you must check the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) to see the status of the immigration courts near you.

If you or someone you know has an upcoming immigration hearing and has questions or needs a defense strategy, please reach out to one of our trusted immigration attorneys here, and continue to follow along with us on social media as we update everyone on the immigration and criminal defense news that matters to you.

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