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immigrant harboring

Immigrant Harboring Measure to Come Before Courts in Texas

By Peek & Toland on March 24, 2017

An important case that threatens heavy sanctions for immigrant harboring in Texas has come under scrutiny in a federal court.

A report on NBC News noted how a national civil rights group for Latinos faced off with Texas officials when the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments against controversial reform measures.

In 2015, the Texas legislature enacted HB 11. The legislation included an immigrant harboring provision. Individuals accused of harboring immigrants could be arrested and prosecuted for providing shelter or even renting a home to undocumented immigrants.

The courts prepare to look at immigrant harboring in Texas

Immigrant harboring is a key battleground in Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an omnibus bill that contained sweeping enforcement measures against immigrants.

The Texas legislation does not directly target undocumented immigrants. However, it contains key provisions that can criminalize people who help immigrants.

The legislation singles out anyone who “encourages or induces a person to enter or remain” in the United States by shielding, harboring or concealing them.

As experienced Austin family immigration lawyers, we are concerned about the wide scope of this legislation. It has the ability to criminalize family members and creates a new classification of state felony offenses that did not exist previously.

Earlier this year, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in this controversial case.

Immigrant Harboring Case Followed a Challenge by San Antonio Landlords

Last year, Mexican American Legal Defense Educational Fund (MALDEF) sued over the legislation. The civil rights group named Abbott along with members of the state Public Safety Commission and Public Safety Director Steve McCraw as respondents to the lawsuit.

MALDEF sued on behalf of two landlords who were in San Antonio and Farmers Branch. The landlords said it’s not their policy to ask tenants about their immigration status. They would not terminate their lease or evict the tenants even if they found they were undocumented immigrants.

Last April, a federal judge prevented Texas from enforcing the immigrant harboring provision as the MALDEF lawsuit proceeded. The state then appealed that ruling.

You can read more about this important case here on our website.

If you are concerned about a family immigration matter please contact us here. Our Austin immigration attorneys would welcome the opportunity to help you with your issue and to answer your questions. Call us at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation in English or Spanish.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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Judge Blocks Texas from Enforcing Parts of Immigrant “Harboring” Law

By Peek & Toland on May 31, 2016

Texas’s omnibus border security bill is highly controversial because it makes the harboring of undocumented immigrants a crime in the Lone Star State.

However, a federal judge recently blocked an important part of the legislation in the anti-smuggling provision, stating the “immigrant harboring laws” contained in it were too broad in scope.

Immigrant harboring bill receives a legal set back

ICE agents make an arrest

The Dallas Morning News reported last month on how David Alan Ezra of San Antonio, a U.S. District Judge, blocked this key tenet of the bill.

The judge ordered a preliminary injunction over the measure. He heard the case after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of two aid groups and two landlords, claiming the state had overstepped its powers and risked making criminals of compassionate Texans.

Texas lawmakers said the bill was intended to counter human smuggling of undocumented immigrants.

Its opponents say they are playing politics. Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of MALDEF, issued a press release in January stating the legislation would do nothing but “embroil Texas in litigation and … divide the state in the name of political gamesmanship.”

The lawsuit brought by MALDEF focused on a couple of landlords – one of them in Farmers Branch – who do not require their tenants to provide documentation related to their immigration status before offering them tenancies. The aid group gives legal services and shelter to undocumented immigrants.

Although we appreciate the urgent need for immigration reform, this is not the kind of legislation that is helpful.

Millions of immigrants want to play a positive part in the economy of Texas but are living in the shadows because they are undocumented and fear deportation. You can read more about immigration reform here on our website.

The ruling has left the controversial immigrant harboring laws in the balance. Judge Ezra also said the plaintiffs in the case are likely to prevail on the Supremacy Clause claim.

The lawsuit claims the harboring provision violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because enforcement of immigration is a federal responsibility. His ruling stated officials at a local and state level lack the authority to enforce the contentious provision until a final decision is reached. The timeline for the case had not been resolved as of last month, according to media reports.

If you have further questions about any aspect of immigration law or would like to consult with a lawyer about issues such as deportation, visas or citizenship, please contact the Peek & Toland . Our experienced Austin immigration attorneys would welcome the opportunity to assist you with your issue and to answer all of your questions. Complete the contact form on our website, or call us at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation in English or Spanish.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal

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