ICE to Establish Rapid DNA Testing at Seven Locations Along the Border

By Peek & Toland on August 13, 2019

According to a recent report from The Hill, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is seeking to establish rapid DNA testing at seven border locations under the guise of a project dubbed “Operation Double Helix 2.0.” The purpose of the testing ostensibly is to identify immigrants who are falsely claiming to have family relationships when they enter or attempt to enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims that immigrants sometimes pose as fake families to engage in human smuggling operations or to attain release in the U.S. more quickly. ICE intends to utilize a private company to carry out the cheek swab testing, which should be completed in 90 minutes or less. The test results allegedly will help Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents identify immigrants who are violating the law.

ICE to Establish Rapid DNA Testing at Seven Locations Along Border

ICE declined to identify the seven locations in which they intend to launch the investigation, stating only that these areas have an influx of immigrants. However, the project did list California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico as potential “testing” locations. ICE also added that the project locations might change over time.

The initial project will involve the administration of 50,000 tests, with an additional 50,000 tests administered during option period one, if ICE chooses to exercise that option. Before seeking bids from contractors for Operation Double Helix 2.0, DHS operated a pilot DNA testing program in May 2019 to identify and prosecute false claims of family relationships between immigrants. Through the pilot program, HSI interviewed 561 families whose situation had indicators of fraud. Interviews yielded 95 fraudulent families, whereas the discovery of fake documents revealed another 176 fraudulent families. The adults were referred for criminal prosecution, and the children placed in the custody of Health and Human Services Department.

An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in Immigration Reform

Tagged with: , , ,

Prosecutors Sue Federal Government Over ICE Courthouse Arrests

By Peek & Toland on July 19, 2019

There have been various media reports from around the country showing an increasing number of courthouse arrests of immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Under the Obama administration, official ICE policy was to avoid making arrests in sensitive locations, such as courthouses. The Trump administration rescinded this policy and have made many courthouse arrests of immigrants over the past few years. Local courts have complained that ICE enforcement in courthouses has deterred immigrants from coming to court on other matters.

Prosecutors in Massachusetts now have sued the federal government to block ICE agents from making arrests at courthouses. They claim that the threat of arrest by ICE and eventual deportation for immigrants suspected to have no legal immigration status makes it more difficult for them to prosecute these individuals for unrelated crimes and obtain justice for the victims of those crimes. Aside from defendants, witnesses and victims of crimes also are not appearing in court out of fear of arrest and deportation by ICE.

Prosecutors Sue Federal Government Over ICE Courthouse Arrests

This issue came to a head recently when federal prosecutors in Massachusetts filed charges against a state court judge and court officers for obstruction of justice due to their roles in helping a man sneak out the back door of the courthouse to avoid an ICE agent.

Nor is Massachusetts the only state fighting back against the increasingly common practice. Earlier this year, New York state court officials banned immigration agents from entering courthouses without judicial warrants or orders.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration claims that ICE agents are targeting only immigrants who may pose a threat to public safety when they are in courthouses, and that is generally safer to make arrests in courthouses, as all individuals must go through metal detectors before entering. Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

Posted in Immigration

Tagged with: , ,

ICE Arrests 280 in Texas in Largest Workplace Raid in a Decade

By Peek & Toland on June 16, 2019

In April, Texas made national headlines when it became the site of the largest workplace immigration raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in a decade. ICE agents arrested over 280 employees on immigration violations when they raided an electronics repair company in Allen, Texas. The arrested individuals, who were predominantly women, were natives of 15 different countries, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Nigeria, and Venezuela. ICE ultimately released a little over half the arrested workers with orders to appear, but about 110 of the workers remained in detention the day after the raid.

ICE executed a criminal search warrant at the company after receiving numerous tips that the company was hiring immigrant workers using fraudulent documents. The CEO of CVE Technology Group released a statement indicating that they were cooperating with federal authorities and had a long history of complying with immigration and employment laws. 

ICE Arrests 280 in Texas in Largest Workplace Raid in a Decade

Under the Trump administration, workplace immigration raids have become far more common. DHS initiated about 6,850 workplace raids last year, as compared with about 1,700 the year before. Arrests increased from about 140 to 800 during that timeframe, as well. The administration has taken the position that workplace raids serve as a deterrent for employees who are in the country illegally.

Typically, these raids have more consequences for workers than the companies themselves, as it can be difficult to prove that employers knew that individuals were working without legal immigration status or using falsified documents. Employers merely have a duty to ensure that documents presented by workers appear valid and they do not have the authority to request specific or different forms of identification from workers. The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any type of relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. It is our intention to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Immigration

Tagged with: ,

Texas Workplace Arrests by ICE Increase 4000% in 2018

By Peek & Toland on April 30, 2019

According to an article published by Houston Public Media, Texas workplace arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents rose almost 4,000 percent in 2018. The number of people whom ICE arrested in 2017 at Texas worksites was 13; in 2018, that number rose to 519. About one-third (1/3) of those arrests were on criminal charges, whereas the remaining two-thirds (2/3) of the arrests were of immigrants who were working in the U.S. without legal authorization to do so.

ICE agents in Dallas made the largest number of workplace arrests, followed by agents in El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio. The largest workplace raid took place in Sumner, Texas, a city in northwest Texas, which involved 160 arrests in August 2018.

The Texas workplace arrests represent about one-quarter (1/4) of the workplace immigration arrests made nationwide. The number of immigration workplace arrests rose over 700% nationwide during FFY 2018, which is the first full fiscal year of the Trump administration being in office, to a total of 2,304 arrests. Of these arrests, 779 were for criminal offenses, and the remaining arrests for administrative purposes, or failing to have legal documentation to work in the U.S. interestingly, however, criminal indictments and convictions have not increased as a result of the increased arrests.

Texas Workplace Arrests by ICE Increase 4000% in 2018

From 2013 to 2017, workplace investigations and arrests by ICE dropped precipitously, as the Obama administration has ordered ICE to focus on arresting criminal offenders rather than investigating workplace violations. When recently retired acting ICE Director Thomas Homan was in office, however, he called for a substantial increase in worksite investigations for possible immigration violations. As a result, ICE initiated 6,848 workplace investigations in 2018, which was four times the rate of investigations in 2017. ICE also launched 5,981 audits of workplaces in 2018. The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal representation of countless individuals facing various immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys today.

Posted in Immigration

Tagged with: ,

ICE Reportedly Detaining Alarming Number of Infants in Texas

By Peek & Toland on April 26, 2019

According to a recent Newsweek article, several immigration advocacy groups have accused U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of detaining an “alarming” number of infants at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. The groups also claim that ICE is failing to provide the legally required level of care for these infants.

The American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network all demanded that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intervene immediately in the situation and release those families being held in federal custody. In particular, the advocates point to the lack of specialized medical care for these infants in the detention facility, citing lengthy delays in treatment and insufficient follow-up care. The lack of adequate medical care is exacerbated by the fact that Dilley is located in a rural area that it is more than one hour’s drive from San Antonio, which is the nearest metropolitan area with the required specialized medical care.

ICE Reportedly Detaining Alarming Number of Infants in Texas

Additionally, the advocates noted that the DHS advisory committee on residential facilities, along with other medical and mental health experts, repeatedly have focused on the adverse effects of even brief detention on very young infants. Detained mothers have complained of abrupt changes in their infants’ formula, weight loss, difficulties feeding and sleeping, and other behavioral problems that continue to go unaddressed.

An ICE spokesperson indicated that ICE was looking into the matter, but that the agency was committed to providing the necessary care for all detainees, including infants. The spokesperson also stated that ICE spends more than $250 million annually to meet the healthcare needs of detained immigrants and ensures that all detainees have comprehensive medical care, including 24-hour emergency medical care. Our Texas immigration lawyers are here to offer you the experienced legal representation and advice that you need in order to resolve your immigration law 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 Reform

Tagged with:

Mexican Immigrant is Detained by ICE for Talking to the Press

By Peek & Toland on May 1, 2018

When you are an undocumented immigrant, you may face threats and dangers not experienced by those who are lawfully in the United States. Recently, a Mexican man said he was detained by ICE for talking to the press.

A report in The Independent noted Baltazar Gutierrez, an immigrant clam harvester in Willapa Bay, Washington was arrested in December by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

The Mexican national said immigration officers picked him up after he spoke with reporters about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the deportation of his girlfriend.

Gutierrez told the Seattle Times  that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested him and spoke of an interview he had once given related to his girlfriend.

Gutierrez claimed he was targeted by ICE agents after he spoke with two local media outlets. ICE agents detained his girlfriend in June 2017. He not named in the story, only identified by his nickname, “Rosas,” in one of the news stories.

 detained by ICE for talking to the press

An immigrant is detained by ICE for talking to the press

An ICE spokesperson denied that the federal agency targets immigrants for retaliatory reasons. However, media requests to ICE to clarify the role the media story may have played in Gutierrez’s arrest were not immediately returned, the Independent reported.

Gutierrez lived in the United States for 18 years. worked 10-hour days since traveling to Washington State. On the west coast, he met his girlfriend, Gladys Diaz. They built a life together there, and had children, until her arrest in June.

Media reports said Diaz sold piñatas on the side. She was arrested when she met someone who had answered an online ad she had posted for her piñatas.

Diaz was also undocumented. The Independent report stated agents said that they were arresting Diaz over a prior deportation order after she was caught sneaking over the border decades ago.

The arrest and deportation of Diaz and that Gutierrez again highlight the controversial immigration policies of the Trump administration.

While ICE maintains it prioritizes criminal aliens living in the US unlawfully for deportation, critics argue the President has broadened the definition of who can be considered a threat.

Of approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, about 3 million have criminal records. The Trump administration faces a major uphill task in deporting this many people.

If you or a family member is facing deportation proceedings, contact our Texas family immigration attorneys as soon as possible at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal

Tagged with:

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.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

Tagged with: ,

Why Federal Detainer Requests Violate the Constitutional Right to Due Process

By Peek & Toland on September 19, 2017

Federal immigration detainer requests have been in the news recently as President Donald Trump moves forward with his agenda to enforce federal laws related to immigrants. But while local governments are under pressure to comply, there are strong arguments that federal detainer requests violate the constitutional right to due process.

By not complying with federal detainer requests, local governments risk being labeled as ‘sanctuary cities’ and losing federal money.

ICE detainers, or “immigration holds” are one of the main tools U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to apprehend people who are picked up by local and state law enforcement agencies and put them into the federal deportation system.

Detainer requests may violate the constitution

ICE detainer requests may not be constitutional

A detainer request is a written request to a local jail or other law enforcement agency to keep an individual for an additional 48 hours after their scheduled release date. This gives ICE agents extra time to make a decision whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal proceedings.

The American Civil Liberties Union is among the organizations warning the use of detainers to imprison people without due process raises constitutional concerns. In many cases, these individuals are held without any charges pending or probable cause of any violation.

In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged ICE detainer requests had been held to be contrary to the Fourth Amendment.

The legal concerns have resulted in some jurisdictions saying they will not comply with detainer requests. Travis County is one of the most high-profile jurisdictions to refuse to comply.

A report by Virginia’s WAVY.com TV station found many jurisdictions in the Commonwealth felt unable to comply with the policy.

Ken Stolle, the sheriff of Virginia Beach, said ICE is notified when a non-citizen is picked up by law enforcement and given notice of the inmate’s release date.

Stolle said more inmates are being picked up under the Trump administration but he won’t hold inmates past their release dates.

Gabe Morgan, the sheriff of nearby Newport News said the system would be fixed if detainer requests were signed by a judge or a magistrate like every other warrant.

Last year, a federal district court in the Northern District of Illinois ruled the practice of issuing immigration detainers by ICE was invalid.

The court ruled detainers violate federal law. It said they exceed the government’s warrantless arrest authority. The justices said federal immigration authorities require warrant if they want to take custody of an immigrant held in a local jurisdiction.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has adopted a tough approach, signing legislation to penalize sanctuary cities and threatening to remove sheriffs who refuse to honor detainer requests.

The legality of detainer requests is a pressing concern to us as Austin immigration lawyers. If you need the services of a family immigration lawyer call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

Tagged with: ,

Deportations Increased in 2016, States Department of Homeland Security

By Peek & Toland on May 22, 2017

The election of Donald Trump has renewed fears over mass deportations. However, Department of Homeland Security figures point to a rise in removals even before Trump arrived at the White House.

Figures released in December for the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 revealed the department apprehended 530,250 people in the United States and carried out 450,954 removals and returns of immigrants.

In 2016, border patrol picked up 415,816 people compared to 337,117 in 2015. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 114, 434 immigrants, compared to 125,211 the previous year.

The Department of Homeland Security in its press release said more people were apprehended in previous years, notably from the 1980s to 2008.

Deportations rose in 2016

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said the Obama administration was continuing to concentrate on deporting people who pose a threat to public safety.

He said:

“In FY 2016, we continued to better focus our interior resources on removing individuals who may pose threats to public safety—specifically, convicted criminals and threats to national security. “

President Obama took a relentless approach to deportations, particularly in the early years of his administration.

A report on ABC News noted in April that he deported more people than any other president of the United States.

From 2009 to 2015, the Obama administration removed in excess of 2.5 million people through immigration orders.

The figure does not include people who “self-deported” or were turned back at the border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

George W. Bush deported about 2 million people.

Deportations May Rise under President Trump

Donald Trump promised to deport as many as 2-3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. It would represent one of the biggest round-ups in U.S. history.

Before the election, he floated the removal of as many as 11 million illegal immigrants.

You can read some of the important questions about Trump’s immigration reforms here.

If you have a concern about any aspect of immigration in Texas or are facing deportation, we can help. Call our Austin cancellation of removal lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

Tagged with: ,

How Can We Help You?

Our team is standing by to help. Call us at (512) 474-4445 or complete this form to send a message about your legal situation.