Cancellation of Removal

More Immigrants Die in ICE Custody

By Peek & Toland on October 24, 2017

A rise in deaths of immigrants in ICE custody has alarmed watchdogs and other immigrant organizations. They are pointing the finger at conditions at for-profit facilities.

Earlier this year, a Honduran immigrant became the third immigrant to die at a controversial detention center in California, reported Think Progress.

Vicente Caceres-Maradiaga was arrested about a month before his death by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents during an immigration raid. He died when he collapsed while playing soccer at the Adelanto Detention Facility.

The facility is a controversial for-profit center. ICE listed the preliminary cause of death as acute coronary syndrome. Caceres-Maradiaga was previously diagnosed with hypertension as well as an umbilical hernia. He received treatment for both conditions in ICE custody.

ICE agents picked up Caceres-Maradiaga during a raid in the spring in North Hollywood, California.

Deaths in ICE custody raise alarms

ICE records stated he was never lawfully admitted to the U.S and had prior criminal convictions since 2011 – one for DUI and another for fraud, ICE stated.

However, the death has raised concerns about a spate of immigrant deaths at detention centers.  Caceres-Maradiaga was the ninth immigrant detainee to die in ICE custody in the 2017 fiscal year which started in October. He was the third to die at Adelanto.

In May, CNN reported on the apparent suicide of Jean Jimenez-Joseph, 27, at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.

Jimenez-Joseph was found him in his cell with a sheet around his neck, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. They said the preliminary cause of the death was self-inflicted strangulation.

Word of the immigrant’s death sparked harsh criticism from immigrant rights activists who have warned of inadequate conditions at the detention center for some time.

Project South Advocacy Director Azadeh Shahshahani called Jimenez-Joseph’s death a “horrific tragedy that could have been prevented.”

Recently three organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, Detention Watch Network, and the National Immigrant Justice Center published a report called Fatal Neglect which claimed ICE ignores deaths in immigrant detention centers.

The report looked at deaths from 2010 to 2012 and concluded ICE detention facility inspections conducted before and after the deaths failed to acknowledge, and sometimes even dismissed, the critical flaws identified in the reviews into the deaths.

If you are being held in a detention center or a family member is facing deportation, our cancellation of removal lawyers may be able to help you. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Senators Seek Information on Medical Care of Detained Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on October 23, 2017

As more undocumented immigrants are detained, concerns have spiked over the standard and adequacy of medical care being given to detained immigrants.

Now more U.S. senators are becoming concerned about conditions at immigrant detention centers, reported VOA News.

In a letter to John Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary, 12 senators — 11 Democrats, plus independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont — complained they received complaints about poor medical services for detained immigrants.

Hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals pass through immigrant detention facilities every year. Many of them are in Texas.

The lawmakers said they were concerned after they heard numerous reports of detainees being hospitalized due to delays in treatment, or because they failed to receive needed medication. The politicians said they were alarmed about the lack of treatment plans for people with serious mental illness after they were released from detention facilities.

Concern over medical care of detained immigrants

medical care of detained immigrants is under scrutiny

Fears Over Medical Care of Detained Immigrants

The Senators are worried by reports of deaths of undocumented immigrants while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In their letter, they requested Kelly to respond within 30 days, detailing how newly arrived detainees receive treatment at the centers and how those who are released are evaluated to ensure continuity of care.

The senators are also seeking more information about the handling of detainees’ health complaints including how medical needs such as dialysis and blood transfusions are dealt with and whether the centers are providing child wellness and preventative care.

Deaths of immigrants at detention centers have been an issue of concern for years. We recently detailed the case of Jose Jaramillo who collapsed at an infamous correctional center in New Mexico. He was incarcerated for illegally entering the country.

He never fully recovered and died a few years later of complications. A report in the Guardian described a systemic failure to give him medical care. An undiagnosed infection turned to sepsis and later to pneumococcal meningitis.

More recent deaths of immigrants in custody have alarmed the politicians. In the VOA News report Theo Oshiro of Make the Road New York referenced troubling accounts from community members of dangerous and unhealthy conditions in many immigrant detention facilities.

Oshiro said eight people have died in ICE custody since last October. Seven of them were being held in private, for-profit detention centers.

If you or a loved one is being held in a detention center, you have rights. An experienced Austin family immigration lawyer can help you. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Undocumented Immigrants Using Fraudulent Documents Will be Charged With Identity Theft.

By Peek & Toland on October 17, 2017

Undocumented immigrants who use fake documents in the United States face being charged with the enhanced offense of aggravated identity theft, according to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions announced the tough measure during a visit to Arizona in April. The measure is in line with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration with its emphasis on more raids and deportations.

A memo issued to U.S. Attorneys’ offices said prosecutors should seek charges for aggravated identity theft for migrants involved in the fraud or misuse of visas, permits, and other documents.

using fraudulent documents will lead to immigrants being charged with identity theft

Immigrants using fraudulent documents face being charged with identity theft

The April 11 memo from Sessions contained a raft of policies aimed at tackling illegal immigration.

It urged federal prosecutors to prioritize charges for the unlawful transportation or the harboring of aliens.

It said where a resource-linked decision was necessary, the priority should be the prosecution of people bringing three or more undocumented immigrants into the United States.

Two or more misdemeanor convictions for improper entry or one with aggravating circumstances like gang membership should be considered a felony, Sessions wrote.

Sessions asked each district to designate a border security coordinator by April 18.

There is a lack of consensus about the extent undocumented immigrants use fake identification and how detrimental it is to the United States.

Ronald W. Mortensen of the Center for Immigration Studies wrote in an article on the right-wing website Breitbart that identity theft by undocumented immigrants is wrecking lives and costing victims millions of dollars.

He said this form of identity theft is not a victimless crime. It impacts millions of Americans of all ages, those with disabilities, law enforcement and others whose social security numbers are being used, Mortensen said.

However, an article in The Atlantic suggested the social security system is benefitting from the use of false documentation.

It said many immigrants who lack the authorization to work in the United States, purchase fake Social Security cards and give them to employers, who are not aware they are fake or don’t look at them too closely.

When the W-2 form and a tax payment on behalf of the workers is submitted to the Social Security Administration, the federal government retains payroll taxes, even when a Social Security number is not linked to anyone on file.

The article suggested a considerable chuck of that money ends up in the Social Security trust fund which benefits to aging Americans are derived from.

The Atlantic article claimed the Social Security system has grown increasingly reliant on this revenue stream as Baby Boomers start to retire.

Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, estimated as many as 1.8 million immigrants were working with fake or stolen Social Security cards in 2010. That number is expected to double by 2040.


If you are an undocumented immigrant who has been accused of using false documentation, you should hire an Austin criminal defense and immigration lawyer as soon as possible. Call us at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

Immigration Courts Authorize Deportation of 12 Percent of Immigrants With Bureau of Prisons

By Peek & Toland on October 16, 2017

Deportations have seldom been far from the headlines during the early days of the Trump administration. Recently, immigration courts authorized the deportations of as many as 12 percent of federal inmates, according to reports.

In May, immigration courts allowed the deportation of more than 22,000 foreign-born inmates, reported the Washington Times.

Figures released from the Justice Department stated foreign nationals comprise 41,554 of the 189,000 federal inmates in Bureau of Prisons custody.

Immigration courts to deport 12 percent of undocumented immigrants

Immigration Court to deport 12 percent of illegal immigrants

A further 3,939 were born outside the United States but became U.S. citizens. The report said final deportation orders were issued for 22,541 foreign-born inmates. They are due to be deported from the United States once they complete their prison sentences. Immigration authorities are said to be considering the deportation of another 13,000 plus immigrants. More than 5,000 immigrants have ongoing removal cases.

The Justice Department figures are not honed down to immigration status. In other words, it’s not possible to distinguish how many of the immigrants now in custody were in the country illegally at the time of arrest, as opposed to being holders of green cards or on visas.

Immigration Courts Target 12 Percent of Migrants

The Washington Times report said immigration-related arrests comprise nearly half of all arrests made by federal authorities.

The Trump administration has taken a tough stance toward undocumented immigrants. Trump wants to build a border wall and tighten up security. However, key questions remain about the president’s mass deportation policies.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions pointed Bureau of Prisons data as evidence of a further need to tighten security at the border. He said:

“Illegal aliens who commit additional crimes in the United States are a threat to public safety and a burden on our criminal justice system. This is why we must secure our borders through a wall and effective law enforcement, and we must strengthen cooperation between federal, state and local governments.”

Even without a wall, there is evidence that Trump’s tough immigration policies may be impacting border crossings.

The border between Mexico and Texas saw a rapid decrease in illegal border crossings in recent months, reported CNBC.com. However, the trend was also apparent before Trump was elected president.

If you are facing deportation, you can fight the proceedings. Our Austin cancellation of removal lawyers can help you. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.


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Immigration in Houston – Why the City is Becoming More Accepting of Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on September 6, 2017

Immigration in Houston has made for negative headlines in recent years as the city helped immigration authorities round up undocumented migrants.

However, attitudes have changed. Last August, Houston welcomed itself as a “welcoming city” to immigrants and undocumented workers, the Chronicle reported.

The article pointed out the city earned headlines as the place with more resettled immigrant than any other city. It’s a place with a diverse immigrant population that helped reshape the region at a time when Texas is pushing anti-sanctuary city policies.

Immigration in Houston is changing

The Houston skyline

Harris County Sheriff’s Office has been the focus of protests by taking part in a partnership with federal immigration authorities to train a team of deputies to enforce immigration law. Under the program, the deputies would determine the immigration status of suspects in the jails and hold selected inmates for deportation.

However, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez ended the controversial partnership in February.

The Democrat who took office a month earlier pledged to reassign 10 deputies trained under the 287(g) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program to other law enforcement duties.

Unlike Travis County, sheriff’s deputies still will cooperate with ICE officials to visit the jail and screen jail inmates to find their immigration status. The county will hold them for potential deportation if requested, Gonzalez said.

Stephen Klineberg, founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, told the Chronicle, Houston is becoming increasingly welcoming of diversity.

The article said a younger generation of Houston residents has ensured the city is more diverse and comfortable with its cosmopolitan make-up than in the past.

Klineberg, who tracked decades worth of responses to the Kinder Houston Area Survey said many residents already made up their minds to welcome newcomers, rather than changing their attitudes over time.

The survey seeks the opinions of Houston residents on a range of pertinent issues every year.

They are asked whether immigration strengthens or threatens American culture and whether undocumented immigrants without criminal records should gain a pathway to citizenship. Klineberg said Houstonians became increasingly positive in their attitudes.

At Peek & Toland we are well aware of the positive benefits of immigration. We help new arrivals to remain and make a meaningful contribution to the United States. We have an office in Houston where we can meet clients by appointment only.

Find out more about our immigration practice through our FAQs. Or call us at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration, Immigration Reform

Immigrant Facing Deportation to Guatemala is Supported by U.S. Senators

By Peek & Toland on September 5, 2017

As the deportation of undocumented immigrants is ratcheted up by the Trump administration, we have seen interventions by local politicians. In Connecticut, two U.S. senators are backing an immigrant facing deportation to Guatemala.

In May, Luis Barrios, a married father of four U.S.-born children was given a 30-day reprieve from deportation. He has the support of Connecticut’s two U.S. senators who sought to prevent him returning to a country he has not seen for a quarter of a century.

A report on ABC News stated Immigration officials permitted Barrios to remain in the United States after his unlawful status was flagged in a 2011 traffic stop related to a broken tail light. All that changed after President Donald Trump took office and made immigration enforcement his top priority.

politicians support immigrant facing deportation to Guatemala

Senators supported immigrant facing deportation to Guatemala

While Trump has promised to concentrate on the deportation of undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions, Barrios’ case highlights the fine line unlawful immigrants are walking. Critics say there’s a world of difference between a traffic citation and serious crimes like homicides or rapes.

Barrios’ lawyer and members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are fighting the deportation to Guatemala. They asked federal immigration officials to reverse the deportation while Barrios sought asylum.

More than 100 of the immigrant’s supporters rallied outside the federal courthouse in April when 19 were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing for blocking the entrance.

The efforts of Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., appear to have secured the Guatemalan a 30-day reprieve but the battle was far from over, the Hartford Courant reported.

They argued Barrios faced a credible threat of violence if he was sent back to Guatemala. They also highlighted his four children and strong ties to the community.

ICE officials argued they were merely complying with a judge’s 1998 deportation order.

In recent weeks, we have seen an upsurge in arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants in Austin and elsewhere. However, the Trump administration faces some logistical difficulties in ramping up deportations.

At Peek & Toland , we launch numerous cancellations of removal actions every year to fight deportations of you or your family members in Texas. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

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ICE Agents Arrests – 150 Immigrants Are Picked Up in South Central Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 23, 2017

The first few months of the Trump administration saw a series of high-profile immigration raids by ICE agents across Texas. In March, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 153 people in central Texas.

It was not the first series of raids in and around Austin, raising concerns the state capital is being targeted due to its sanctuary city status.

The Statesman reported 24 people suspected of being in the country illegally were detained by the Austin/Waco field office.

ICE provided details of the 12-day operation that lasted from March 20 to 31. The agency said all of the undocumented immigrants arrested had previous criminal convictions.

The operation was the second one ICE carried out in the area this year. In February, ICE agents detained more than 50 people in the Austin area as part of a nationwide operation.

ICE agents arrests seen in Texas

ICE agents arrests cause fear in Texas

Those picked up in the March sweep included foreign nationals from five countries. Reports said 140 people from Mexico were picked up along with seven undocumented immigrants from Honduras, three from Guatemala, one from El Salvador and two from Canada.

Federal officials said 33 of the people who were picked up will face criminal prosecution on charges of re-entry after deportation.

The increased frequency of raids resulted in an upsurge of advice to undocumented immigrants about what they should do if ICE agents come knocking.

What You Can Do to Avoid ICE Agents Arrests

Roundups of undocumented immigrants across the United States prompted immigrant rights groups to provide advice on social media to people caught up in raids.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) advises undocumented immigrants not to open the door unless the ICE agents can show a warrant signed by a judge.

ICE administrative warrants do not permit agents to enter a home without the consent of the residents. Inhabitants should ask through the door why the agents are present and request an interpreter if they need one, reported USA Today.

If an ICE agent lacks a warrant, the undocumented immigrants should ask the agents to leave information outside.

If you or a family member is caught up in ICE agents’ arrests, please call our Texas immigration attorneys at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

Should Bad Immigration Legal Advice Mean Another Chance for Deportees?

By Peek & Toland on August 22, 2017

The justices at the U.S. Supreme Court recently discussed whether immigrants should be given a second chance in court if bad immigration legal advice results in a guilty plea and certain deportation.

The Boston Herald reported the high court justices appeared divided during an argument about what to do in cases involving poor legal advice if criminal evidence against an undocumented immigrant is strong and he or she is unlikely to be acquitted.

The court considered the of Lee v. U.S. The justices heard Jae Lee, a South Korean immigrant, faced drug charges.

Lee admitted the offense. His lawyer mistakenly told him a conviction would not lead to deportation, the justices heard.

Bad immigration legal advice is discussed by U.S. Supreme Court

should poor immigration legal advice halt a deportation?

The federal government argued the flawed immigration legal advice is irrelevant because the outcome of the trial would have been the same. The case is seen as important because the Trump administration wants to increase deportations. It is focusing on immigrants with criminal convictions.

Attorneys for Lee say the Korean would have taken his chances in court or demanded a better plea deal from his lawyer, had he realized it might allow him to remain in the United States.

Justices Discuss Poor Immigration Legal Advice

The main issue in the appeal is whether the immigration legal advice to take the deal offered by the prosecutor was bad enough to amount to a violation of Jae Lee’s constitutional right to an attorney.

Justice Elena Kagan appeared sympathetic to Lee’s arguments. Although the justices seemed to agree that Lee’s original lawyer gave deficient immigration legal advice, Lee must show bad lawyering impacted the outcome of the case, The Boston Herald reported.

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio ruled the drug evidence against Lee was overwhelming. The judges were of the opinion he would have been convicted had he taken his chances at a trial. Almost 20 U.S. states are backing the arguments of the Trump administration that the ruling of the Cincinnati report should be upheld.

In 2010, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled immigrants have a constitutional right to be informed by their lawyers if pleading guilty to a crime would result in deportation.

Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to be siding with the administration. He said a ruling in favor of the South Korean would put judges in a difficult position.

“You’re asking us to assess the mindset of a defendant when he makes the plea,” Kennedy said.

Alabama is leading the 19 states in backing the administration’s argument that the appeals court ruling should be upheld.

With as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision is likely to prove important.

Given the present upsurge in arrests and deportations, cancellation of removal cases are becoming increasingly important. Read our Austin family immigration attorneys’ resources here or call (512) 474-4445.

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Sanctuary Jurisdictions Continue to Deny ICE Detainer Requests

By Peek & Toland on August 15, 2017

The federal government is continuing to crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States. At the same time, these cities are pushing back by denying ICE detainer requests.

Detainer requests are made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who seek to place a hold on inmates who may be undocumented immigrants in local jurisdictions to allow them to be picked up for possible deportation action.

Some sanctuary jurisdictions like Travis County are resisting federal pressure and denying detainer requests.

A report in NumbersUSA found America’s sanctuary Jurisdictions turned down 47 detainer requests in a report issued in late March. They were issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. These included detainer requests for illegal immigrants with charges or convictions for domestic violence, sexual assault, and assault.

sanctuary cities defy ICE detainer requesrs

ICE detainer requests are defied by some jurisdictions

Details were provided in the Trump administration’s second weekly report that highlighted jurisdictions with policies that instruct officials not to cooperate with ICE agents.

The reporting period ran from Feb. 4 – Feb. 10. Nearly half of those rejected detainer requests were issued under the Obama administration several months earlier.

Cities in California as well as New York City, Washington, and Travis County which includes Austin in Texas declined the largest number of detainers since reports began in late January.

The report found of 24 more recent detainer requests under the Trump administration, sanctuary jurisdictions rejected three relating to inmates charged or convicted with domestic violence, 11 for assault and one for sexual assault.

A further nine people were charged with less serious crimes like drug possession, burglary, and identity theft.

Reports on ICE Detainer Requests Are Suspended

The Trump administration released reports on ICE detainer requests to ‘name and shame’ localities that declined to honor them.

However, the reports were temporarily suspended in April. Several jurisdictions questioned the accuracy of the data the New York Times reported.

The report was made possible under Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration issued in January. Some locations claimed they were unfairly labeled as being uncooperative.

Austin is in the front line of the sanctuary cities stand-off. New Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez pledged to only honor detainer requests for inmates who commit serious crimes. She has been singled out by Texas Governor Greg Abbott who is threatening to cut funds to Austin.

In April, Texas gave final approval to a bill that would give police officers sweeping powers to demand the immigration status of suspects, in a blow to sanctuary cities.

At Peek & Toland , our attorneys have been helping immigrants fight for their rights for decades in and around Austin. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Federal Officials Defend Immigration Arrests in Courthouses

By Peek & Toland on August 3, 2017

In past years, courthouses have been places where defendants were shielded from raids by ICE agents. However, a series of immigration arrests at courthouses has put the federal government on a collision course with judges.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly recently defended federal agents who made immigration arrests at courthouses in California, reported Fox 40.

The officials defended the practice after California’s top judge asked them to desist.

Concern over immigration arrests in courthouses

immigration arrests in courthouses cause an outcry

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to stop making immigration arrests at courthouses in California.

She said “stalking” immigrants was thwarting the administration of justice.

Sessions and Kelly went on the offensive over Cantil-Sakauye’s terminology. In a letter, they wrote that “stalking” is a crime in which a victim is harassed or followed.

Sessions and Kelly took issue with state and city policies that prevent local police from turning over suspects for deportation. These policies are consistent with so-called “sanctuary cities.” The officials said the lack of cooperation with federal authorities compels federal agents to arrest immigrants at courthouses.

The letter said courthouses are safe places for immigration arrests because all visitors are screened for weapons.

Sessions and Kelly wrote:

“While these law enforcement personnel will remain mindful of concerns by the public and governmental stakeholders regarding enforcement activities, they will continue to take prudent and reasonable actions within their lawful authority to achieve that mission.”

The response highlights a national struggle between local police and immigration officials. Cities such as Austin have refused to cooperate with ICE detainer requests to hold suspected undocumented immigrants who commit crimes in jails. In Austin, it’s police policy not to check the immigrant status of an arrestee.

Immigration Arrests at Courthouses in Texas

The arrest of a transgender woman who claimed to be a victim of domestic violence by ICE agents at a court house in El Paso in February, caused an outcry.

According to CBS News, County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said the woman received a protective order for a domestic violence claim. Judge Joe Gonzalez granted her a protective order. She filed three police reports, the last of them involving an alleged assault with a weapon. Bernal said the initial report was filed in October of 2016 and the violence escalated.

ICE agents followed the woman into the hallway after the hearing. They arrested her and she was taken to an immigration detention facility.

Bernal said an immigration arrest had not happened in the two decades she has worked in El Paso courthouse.

If you are facing deportation, our Austin, Texas, immigration attorneys can help you. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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