deportation

New Scam Threatens Individuals with Deportation Unless They Pay Up

By Peek & Toland on July 20, 2019

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office recently warned consumers about a new scam that seems to be directed primarily at extorting money from immigrants. The scam, which uses so-called “spoofing” technology to make it appear that a phone call is originating from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or other federal government offices. The scammers then claim that the persons receiving the phone calls or their family members have become the victims of identity theft or that a family member is being held on an immigration detainer. The caller then attempts to get the victims to confirm personal or financial information, and he or she may threaten deportation or arrest if they do not make certain payments as instructed.

New Scam Threatens Individuals with Deportation Unless They Pay Up

According to the press release, the numbers appearing on caller ID in this scam are not used by DHS or any federal government office to make outgoing phone calls. Furthermore, no one from the federal government would use a phone call to threaten an arrest. As a result, authorities are recommending that anyone receiving these phone calls not give out or confirm any personal, financial, or bank account information, do not make a payment, and immediately hang up the phone.

Consumers receiving these phone calls also may file complaints with the North Carolina Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Division, the Federal Communications Commission, or the Federal Trade Commission. Your cell phone provider also may able to assist consumers in blocking calls from the phone numbers being used in the scam.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued warnings about similar schemes nationwide. These scams range from emails announcing that individuals have been awarded a visa through the diversity lottery if they pay a fee and phone calls asking for immigration processing fees to be paid by telephone or Western Union, to fraudulent web pages that allow individuals to download USCIS forms for a fee. Our Texas immigration lawyers are here to offer you the experienced legal representation and advice that you need to resolve your immigration matter. We can act as your guide through the complicated immigration process to obtain the relief that you are seeking. Call our office today and learn about the type of assistance we can offer you.

Posted in Immigration

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Definition of Crime of Violence in the Supreme Court Has a Bearing on Immigration Law

By Peek & Toland on April 2, 2018

The definition of the term a “crime of violence” and its use to expel migrants to the United States was discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court in September 2017.

The case of Sessions v. Dimaya, considered whether the authorities can use the definition “crime of violence” to expel an offender whose crime involved no violence.

The case goes to the heart of the immigration statutes that control whether thousands of undocumented immigrants and green card holders are deported every year.

Crime of violence is considered by U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court considers definition of a crime of violence

During September’s hearing, Justice Neil Gorsuch noted the due process clause does not include the criminal/civil distinction used by the government. He said under the Constitution:

 “The Due Process Clause speaks of the loss of life, liberty, or property. It doesn’t draw a civil/criminal line, and yet, elsewhere, even in the Fifth Amendment, I do see that line drawn, the right of self-incrimination, for example.”

Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler argued that the federal government has traditionally enjoyed broad discretion in the enforcement of the immigration laws.

James Garcia Dimaya is a lawful permanent resident. He immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1992. He was convicted of burglary on two occasions but the offenses did not involve violence.

This cut little ice with the immigration court and the Board of Immigration Appeals. They concluded that the convictions were for “crimes of violence,” and Dimaya was removed from the United States. Dimaya later appealed the board’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

The Washington Post noted many of the Supreme Court justices including Gorsuch seemed uneasy about the vagueness of the immigration statutes as related to the definition of a crime of violence.

The decision in the case could have wide-ranging implications. The Post noted if the highest court in the land is to tighten up terms such as “crime of violence,” it may have implications for even more vague terms like “sanctuary city.”

While the Trump administration has taken aim at sanctuary cities, this is not a term that’s even defined in any laws or regulation and has been used vaguely.

While the president and Congress have discretion in the immigration realm, its discretion is not unlimited. The courts have the last say.

If you or a family member is facing possible deportation, please contact our experienced Austin family immigration lawyers.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Criminal Defense, Immigration

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Supreme Court Looks at Filipino Legal Immigrant Deportation Case

By Peek & Toland on March 13, 2018

The question of whether a Filipino legal immigrant can be deported from the United States was recently discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court considered whether a Filipino legal immigrant convicted of two home burglaries in California could be deported. The justices heard the wording of the federal law used to determine whether he could be removed from the U.S. was so unconstitutionally vague it could not be enforced in the criminal courts.

According to the Los Angeles Times, James Garcia Dimaya pleaded no contest to charges of residential burglary in 2007 and 2009.

The Filipino was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident when he was 13, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The Board of Immigration Appeals decided one of the convictions was an “aggravated felony.” It agreed with the Homeland Security Department that Dimaya should be deported.

Supreme Court looked at Filipino Legal Immigrant deportation

Supreme Court considered Filipino Legal Immigrant deportation

That definition of an “aggravated felony” was later questioned. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It overturned the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, halting the deportation.

It stated the definition of “aggravated felony” as used in immigration law contained a definition of “crime of violence” similar to a different law the Supreme Court concluded was too vague to be constitutional in 2015.

During oral arguments in the Supreme Court, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler said the law at issue in the Dimaya case was not impacted by the same vagueness problem. Kneedler said even if it was, immigration is distinctive and deportation should not be a punishment for a past offense.

He argued even if the law was overly vague to be used for the purposes of criminal punishment, it could still be used for deportation.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court was not impressed with the argument, according to the LA Times. He said:

 “I can easily imagine a misdemeanant who may be convicted of a crime for which the sentence is six months in jail or a $100 fine, and he wouldn’t trade places in the world for someone who is deported.”

Gorsuch questioned the drawing of a line between criminal punishment and civil penalties like as deportation.

In its editorial, the Los Angeles Times agreed with the Gorsuch. It said if a court decides the wording of the law that triggered Dimaya’s removal order was unconstitutionally vague, the Filipino should be entitled to relief.

A law too vague for a criminal sentence should not be a good pretext to expel someone from the country.

All too often, immigrants have not received fair treatment from the courts. If you are facing deportation, you may have rights. Please call our Austin cancellation of removal lawyers today for a free consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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Jeff Sessions Announces Expedited Removal of Illegal Immigrants Who Committed Crimes

By Peek & Toland on July 25, 2017

Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new process to speed up the deportation of incarcerated undocumented immigrants who committed crimes. While the federal government is trumpeting the changes as a way of saving money for the taxpayer, expedited removal has alarmed some commentators.

Sessions sold the change as an “expansion and modernization” of the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP).

The revised IHP identifies undocumented immigrants who are inmates in federal correctional facilities. It will allow immigration removal proceedings to be carried out via video teleconference and removes the undocumented immigrant on completion of sentence, rather than releasing them to an ICE detention facility or into the community for an adjudication of status.

Expedited removal of immigrants may be controversial

Attorney General details expedited removal

Sessions proposes bringing an Immigration Judge to the inmate to determine removability, rather than bringing the inmate before a judge. He said the change will save resources and speed up hearings.

Sessions said:

“We owe it to the American people to ensure that illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes and are serving time in our federal prisons are expeditiously removed from our country as the law requires. This expansion and modernization of the Institutional Hearing Program gives us the tools to continue making Americans safe again in their communities.”

A uniform intake policy was scheduled to be put in place by April 6. The number of facilities taking part in the expedited removal program will be expanded.

What Increased Expedited Removal Will Mean for Immigrants

A report in The Hill said new processes are likely to be used by the Trump administration to speed up its deportation program.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 2-3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. However, the fact each person earmarked for deportation has a statutory right to a hearing, would make that aim almost impossible.

The Hill article said the backlog for hearings keeps on growing. At the end of January, it was 542,411 cases and the average waiting time to appear before an immigration judge was almost 700 days. If no new cases were presented, it would take more than two-and-a-half years to catch up with the backlog. Texas has the largest backlog in the country, we noted in a recent blog.

Even if the immigration judges did not receive any additional cases, it would take them more than two-and-a-half years to catch up.

However, Trump authorized an expedited removal provision in his executive order on immigration signed in January.

Expedited removal proceedings can be conducted by immigration officers. An immigrant without the proper documentation or one who has committed fraud or willful misrepresentation to get into the country may be removed without a hearing before an immigration judge under the order.

Undocumented immigrants subject to the expedited process must be detained until they are removed. Typically, they may only be released due to a medical emergency.

According to Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, the policy will face a legal challenge. He claimed the Trump administration is willing to “trample on due process” and even circumvent protections for vulnerable children.

Expedited removal is very significant. It is not clear how widely it will be used. The fact that the federal government is speeding up the deportation process means it’s vital to hire an experienced Austin immigration lawyer if you are facing deportation. Please call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

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Police Chiefs Object to Trump’s Plan to Enlist Officers in Deportation Actions

By Peek & Toland on July 11, 2017

The vigorous approach of the Trump administration in deporting undocumented immigrants is under fire from an unlikely source. A group of police chiefs is objecting to Trump’s plan to enlist their officers in deportation actions.

An article in The Guardian referred to a joint letter signed by more than 60 police chiefs. It appeals to Trump to retreat on his pledge enlist police officers to deport millions of unlawful immigrants.

The police chiefs of four major Texas cities – Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas are among the signatories.

The officers warn helping to enforce immigration law threatens to harm locally-based, community-oriented policing.

Police have reservations about helping Trump's deportation actions

Police chiefs raise concerns at Trump’s deportation actions

The letter was signed by 61 current and former local police chiefs and sheriffs. Many of them come from southern Republican states including Texas, Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Florida.

The letter was penned under the auspices of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force. It’s a coalition of senior law enforcement experts gathered together by the National Immigration Forum.

President Trump is not mentioned by name but the letter references his administration’s policies of forcing police to play a more central role in deportation actions.

One of Trump’s first executive orders saw the overturning of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which was put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama, reported the Guardian.

The PEP entailed the creation of customized agreements between the federal government and local law enforcement jurisdictions related to joint working. Immigration agents focused on rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants who committed serious violent crimes.

It replaced a previous policy that also targeted those with minor offenses or no criminal records at all.

Some police chiefs like Charlie Beck, who has led the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) since 2009, have flatly opposed Trump’s moves to use local police forces as adjuncts to federal immigration agents

Austin in Texas has been leading the fight against immigration holds. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers believe a defendant in a jail may be an undocumented immigrant a detainer request is made to local authorities to hold the individual. Austin is opposing these hold requests unless the immigrant has committed a serious crime like a homicide.

Nationally, 16 states including Texas declined 206 detainer requests from Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, stated the DHS’ Declined Detainer Outcome Report.

A report in Courthouse News said Travis County, which includes Austin, accounted for more than two-thirds of the refusals: 142 in total.

Deportation actions are often emotive and break up families. If they lose a breadwinner, they may no longer be able to function as a family unit.

At Peek & Toland , we are committed to keeping families together and have fought numerous cancellation of removal actions. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

 

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration Reform

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Father from El Salvador with No Criminal Record is Deported from Houston

By Peek & Toland on June 29, 2017

The Trump administration promised to prioritize the deportation of unlawful immigrants with criminal records. However, a father from Houston with no criminal convictions was among those deported.

Just says after President Donald Trump pledged to remove gang members and drug dealers in his speech to Congress in February, immigration agents deported a 31-year-old father of two American children from Houston. Jose Escobar lived in the United States since he was 15. He previously gained a temporary reprieve from deportation, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Escobar who was born in El Salvador, was arrested on Feb. 22 when he attended the Houston immigration office for his annual check-in. Escobar benefitted from a provisional stay of deportation. He had a work permit since 2012, when he was released from immigration custody following a high-profile congressional and media campaign.

Jose Escobar was deported to El Salvador

Cesar Espinosa, whose advocacy organization FIEL Houston lobbied in Escobar’s case, said he was deported so quickly it did not have the chance to make its case.

President Trump pledged to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records, especially those with violent offenses to their name.

Escobar did not commit any crimes. He ended up deportation proceedings due to a paperwork mistake.

When he was 15, his mother who was living in the United States sent for him. He qualified for temporary protected status under a clause applying to people escaping disasters in certain countries. Escobar’s mother thought his permit would automatically renew when she reapplied for hers. She was incorrect.

The family moved and they did not receive paperwork informing Escobar he had missed the deadline.

When he finally worked out a glitch occurred, he attempted to reapply for the permit but was too late. The U.S. government started deportation proceedings. Escobar’s wife said an attorney told him he should not attend the court hearing for fear of being deported. The judge ordered him removed from the United States in 2006.

The order was not enforced at the time. The family lived quietly in New Orleans and Texas. However, immigration agents arrested Escobar on June 6, 2011. His wife consulted immigration lawyers, a Change.org petition was started and the family enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Jose Escobar is Back in El Salvador After Being Deported

After spending seven months in detention, Escobar was released in January 2012 on an order of supervision. It was in effect a provisional stay of deportation. Escobar was required to check in with immigration agents annually and given a temporary work permit.

His time in the United States abruptly ended when he reported in this year. He is now in back in El Salvador.

Although the Trump administration has put the emphasis on the deportation of undocumented immigrants with a criminal record, Escobar was the victim of a paperwork mistake years ago. His arrest sends an alarming message to those immigrants who start families and make a valuable contribution to the United States.

If you or a family member is threatened with deportation, you should contact an experienced Texas cancellation of removal attorney as soon as possible. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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Mexican Government Warns of New Deportation Rules in the US

By Peek & Toland on May 17, 2017

Mexicans living in the United States have been urged to “take precautions” by the Mexican government after a controversial and high profile deportation in Arizona.

The Mexican government issued a warning after the deportation in February of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos.

The 36-year-old was deported after she reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix. Her attorney said she showed up for a routine “check in” regarding an ongoing deportation case, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The detention and deportation of Garcia de Rayos sparked protests and made headlines in the United States and Mexico.

Mexico warns of new deportation rules

Mexican government warns of new deportation rules

Mexico said the deportation reflected the “new reality” for the immigrant community under the Trump administration. On Feb. 13, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement conducted a sweep in Austin that resulted in the arrests of 51 immigrants, 23 of them with criminal records, reported the Statesman.

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Mexican community in the United States faces a more severe application of migration controls.

A previous identity theft conviction led to the deportation of Garcia de Rayos.

The Los Angeles Times reported she grew in a small Mexican town 20 hours from the U.S. border. Her children are both U.S. citizens. They joined their father, who remains in Phoenix.

Garcia de Rayos lived in the United States since she was 14. Immigration agents arrested her during a workplace enforcement immigration raid nine years ago and convicted her of felony identity theft for having false papers that she used to secure work.

The felony conviction resulted in her deportation. The Trump administration said it is targeting so-called “criminal aliens” as it changes the deportation rules. The Mexican mother’s case underwent reviews at multiple levels, immigration officials stated.

Deportation Rules Change Leads to Advice in Austin

The Los Angeles Times article pointed out the Arizona deportation has sewed seeds of anxiety in the immigrant community.

In Austin, the teachers’ union Education Austin sent its union members a flier with advice entitled “What to do if ICE comes to your door.”

The flier recommends immigrants against speaking with ICE agents or even permitting them entry. It urged them to remain silent.

The deportation of Garcia de Rayos alarmed immigrants because she was complying with the rules and her felony conviction was almost a decade ago.

At Peek & Toland, we are committed to keeping immigrant families together. It’s a tough time to be undocumented in Texas. We have successfully fought many deportations. Read our immigration success stories here. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration, Immigration Reform

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Judge Orders Immigrant Services – In-State Tuition in Georgia

By Peek & Toland on May 1, 2017

The immigration debate in many states has centered on immigrant services. In Georgia, a surprise court decision suggests the state should allow residents who have avoided deportation to receive in-state tuition.

A report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated a judge in Fulton County ruled the state must allow residents who were granted a special reprieve from deportation to receive in-state tuition at universities and colleges in the state.

The ruling by Fulton Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan was released in the last days of the Obama administration. The judge said the state improperly refused to extend in-state tuition to the group. However, the people in question were declared “legally present” in the United States.

immigrant services are protected in Georgia when migrants were allowed in-state tuition

The plaintiff in the case was Rigoberto Rivera. He was brought to the United States as a child from Mexico.

For years Rivera and fellow plaintiffs waged a legal battle that made it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. However, their fight is not over.

Ten recipients of DACA recipients living in Georgia sued the Board of Regents in Fulton County Superior Court. They claimed they were entitled to the ability to pay the in-state rate which is more affordable than out-of-state tuition.

Rivera said he may now apply to Georgia State University to study political science and criminology.

The ruling comes nearly four years after Rivera and fellow plaintiffs began their legal odyssey, which at one point reached the Georgia Supreme Court. But the legal battle is not over.

The Board of Regents is planning to appeal the judge’s decision. The Superior Court’s decision remains on hold during the appeals process.

The other big uncertainty for the DACA recipients is whether President Donald Trump will extend the program.

The case relates to a state law from almost a decade ago that says noncitizens cannot pay the in-state rate for tuition unless they are “legally in this state.” The plaintiffs pointed to federal records that say recipients of DACA are lawfully present in the U.S. The abolition of DACA would undermine that status for the plaintiffs and other undocumented immigrants who have hitherto benefitted from DACA.

Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican from of Columbus, pledged to file a countermeasure in the General Assembly. His bill would prohibit anyone who lacks legal status from paying in-state tuition at public colleges. In-state tuition is thousands of dollars less than out-of-state rates.

DACA gave work permits to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children without authorization. It also gave them a temporary relief from deportation.

The “lawful presence” element was inherent to the ruling. Judge Tusan wrote officials at the University of Georgia were compelled to perform their duty in line with the federal definition of lawful presence.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says five states including Texas, offer state financial assistance to undocumented immigrants. However, Texas does not have a law that codifies it.

You can find out more about the DACA program here. If you need advice about your rights, call our Austin family immigration attorneys at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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Deportation of Criminal Noncitizens – The Obstacles Faced by Trump

By Peek & Toland on April 28, 2017

President Donald Trump detailed proposals to increase the deportation of criminal noncitizens in his first week in office.

Undocumented immigrants who commit crimes will be prioritized for removal.

Although he scaled down a proposal to remove as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants to concentrate on up to 3 million with criminal records, doubts linger about the viability of the policy.

Writing in the Washington Post, Kari Hong, a professor at Boston College Law School, said Trump’s policies won’t work.

Criminal noncitizens face deportation

He claimed the approach will be expensive, bureaucratic and unwieldly. He cited the following reasons:

1 Criminal Records May Not Define Violent Crime

Criminal records are not always effective at separating violent and non-violent offenders. In other words, they are a clumsy tool to identify dangerous criminal noncitizens.

There are, for example, green card holders who are fighting deportation due to a crime like petty theft decades ago.

Hong said the definition of “violent” has confounded federal judges for decades. Until the Supreme Court finally stepped in, many noncitizens were deported from the United States because courts incorrectly concluded that state convictions for driving under the influence were crimes of violence. In one case in Virginia, spitting at a police officer was judged to be a violent crime and hence grounds for deportation.

2 The Immigration Courts Are Under Severe Pressure

Recently, in this blog, we highlighted the severe pressures on the immigration courts.

With the national backlog of cases inching up toward 1 million, the courts have almost no capacity to take on another massive influx of cases.

Hong said every noncitizen is entitled to a hearing no matter how he or she is rounded up. It’s not a rubber stamping exercise. As many as half of all those who appear before immigration courts win their cases. You can read about our cancellation of removal cases here.

At present, many noncitizens are waiting as long as three years for their hearing.

3 Deportation is Expensive

The cost of incarceration of noncitizens is extremely expensive. Trump has already floated the idea of building new immigrant detention centers.

Hong said as many as 30,000 people are currently locked up at an annual cost of more than $2 billion.

The growth in the deportation of criminal noncitizens envisaged by Trump would add to the costs of incarceration. More immigration officials would be needed to round up those set to be deported.

Hong makes the point that deportation was stepped up under the Obama administration and more than 2.5 million people were deported over the course of his eight years in office. Obama was nicknamed the “deporter in chief.”

However, the level of deportations fell during his second term, partly because of the costs involved.

At Peek & Toland , we realize this is a stressful time to be an immigrant, even if you are a green card holder. Our Austin family immigration lawyers can help you. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration, Immigration Reform

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How America’s Busy Immigration Courts Would Swell Under Trump

By Peek & Toland on April 26, 2017

The nation’s immigration courts already face massive backlogs for deportation hearings. The pressures are predicted to grow further under the pro-deportation presidency of Donald Trump.

An article on 89.3 KPCC stated the burdens on the courts may grow exponentially over the next few months.

The station said America’s immigration courts were burdened by a backlog of half a million cases before Trump’s inauguration. The pressures in 2016 were unprecedented.

Cases being put on the calendar years from their initial hearing. More than 526,000 cases were stuck in the system stated the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. California alone has 100,000 cases with wait times of 2-4 years.

Immigration courts face a massive backlog

Immigration courts face a massive backlog

Last year, we noted Texas has one of the largest immigration case backlogs in the country.

Immigration courts have a backlog of 89,000 cases in the Lone Star State. In Houston alone, the number of cases held up in the courts rose from 6,423 to 36,136 from 2010 to 2016, according to the report.

The backlogs reflect an increased emphasis on deportations that took place under Barack Obama’s presidency. Trump has vowed to increase the size of the deportation force by employing an extra 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 immigration officers.

Jennifer Chacón, a law professor at the University of California, warned the crisis was likely to hit in 2017. She said:

“This is the year that the crisis really came to a head. We’ve had growing backlogs, but people are getting their cases calendered for years from now.”

Reports also point out there are too few judges to cope with the demands facing the immigration courts.

We noted there are just six immigration judges on the bench in Houston. The immigration court’s caseload is predicted to double by 2019 without more judges being taken on.

Funding for the immigration courts has continuously lagged behind that of federal enforcement, according to the Houston Chronicle. The publication states the courts are still struggling with the mass migration from Central America to the United States in 2014 when many unaccompanied children flooded over the border.

The pressure on immigration courts has made legal proceedings involving undocumented immigrants increasingly stressful and fragmented families. Our Texas family immigration lawyers can help with your case. Call us today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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