U.S. Supreme Court

Federal Court Finds Trump Administration Asylum Ban Violates INA

By Peek & Toland on September 29, 2019

According to a recent CNN article, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled that a Trump Administration policy violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In this policy, the Administration sought to bar immigrants who had crossed the border without authorization from seeking asylum. The Trump Administration issued the policy back in November 2018, which would have limited asylum applications to those immigrants who lawfully presented themselves at official ports of entry into the U.S. According to the judge’s opinion, the federal government could not extinguish a statutory right to seek asylum under the INA simply by issuing a policy.

A nationwide injunction that prohibited the policy from going into effect has been in place since a California federal judge issued it last year. The federal government appealed the injunction to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high Court refused to stay the injunction by a 5-4 vote. So as a practical matter, the D.C. judge’s decision ultimately follows the injunction already in effect.

Federal Court Finds Trump Administration Asylum Ban Violates INA

This policy has been one of many that the Trump Administration has attempted to enact to significantly restrict the ability to apply for asylum, especially for Central American migrants. For instance, the Administration has expanded a policy designed to keep more asylum seekers in Mexico until their cases are processed. The federal government now has limited the number of asylum seekers who can enter a port of entry each day for processing of their asylum applications. The Trump Administration also attempted to deny asylum to all migrants who traveled through another country to reach a U.S. port of entry and to require them to first seek asylum in another country before coming to the U.S. These policies were specifically aimed at individuals traveling through Mexico from South America.

A California federal district court judge also entered a nationwide injunction regarding the requirement that migrants seek asylum in another country before seeking it in the U.S. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals limited the injunction to California and Arizona. On remand, the federal district court judge reinstated the nationwide ban after making the findings outlined in the Ninth Circuit order. However, most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the injunction pending litigation, which allows the federal government to go forward with denying asylum to this specific group of immigrants.

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 Asylum

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USSC Issues Ruling in Nielsen v. Preap

By Peek & Toland on May 19, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its much-awaited ruling in Nielsen v. Preap. This case concerned whether a federal statute, or 8 U.S.C. 1226(c), provided for mandatory immigrant detention for a certain class of noncitizen immigrants. If the statute applied to these immigrants, then they would be subject to detention indefinitely without the opportunity for a bond hearing. These immigrants argued that mandatory detention without bond as provided for in the statute did not apply to them because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not take them into immigration custody until many years after they had been released from custody for a criminal offense. In many cases, these immigrants were legal permanent residents who had not had additional criminal charges or trouble during the interceding years. As a result, these individuals maintained that they should be entitled to a bond hearing to determine whether their detention was legal.

USSC Issues Ruling in Nielsen v. Preap

Unfortunately, a plurality of the Supreme Court agreed with the federal government’s argument that these immigrants fell within one of the four specifically-defined groups of immigrants contemplated in the statute. Therefore, the Court concluded that the lapse of time between the immigrants’ criminal detention and immigration detention was irrelevant and did not remove them from the application of the plain language of the statute.

The dissent criticized the broad reach of the ruling, as it effectively subjected a whole class of immigrants to indefinite mandatory detention without even a bond hearing to challenge their detention. Thus, even if the immigrants later prove themselves to be not subject to removal for one reason or another, they still will have spent months or even years detained without bond. The dissent saw this as a major constitutional problem. At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you obtain through your immigration problems. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration law case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

Posted in Immigration

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U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Whether Immigration Reform and Control Act Preempts State Criminal Prosecutions

By Peek & Toland on May 14, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to consider whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempts states in using information taken from Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification to prosecute individuals for state criminal offenses. The case at issue concerns a Kansas state law prosecution of individuals for identity theft. The high Court will hear arguments in the case in its term that will begin in October 2019.

Prosecutors in Kansas convicted three individuals of identity theft for using other people’s social security numbers to fill out I-9 forms to gain employment at different restaurants. After a series of appeals, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed their convictions, ruling that ICRA prohibited states from using information taken from I-9 forms as evidence in state law prosecutions due to preemption of federal law over state law. 

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Whether Immigration Reform and Control Act
Preempts State Criminal Prosecutions

IRCA only expressly limits the states’ ability to use information about individuals that is found on or attached to I-9 forms. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that even if the prosecution could find the same information elsewhere, the state still could not use it in its prosecution for identity theft. In these cases, the men had provided the same fraudulent social security numbers on their tax withholding forms as they had on their I-9 forms. Nonetheless, the Court still held that ICRA barred the state from using that information.

If the Supreme Court agrees with the Kansas Supreme Court, then no state would be able to use false employment data from I-9 forms to prosecute the individuals under state law for offenses based on the fake data. 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

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USSC Decision Casts Doubt on Civil Forfeiture

By Peek & Toland on April 24, 2019

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has cast doubt on the nationwide practice of local law enforcement agencies seizing private property of citizens that is allegedly associated with criminal activity. Civil asset forfeiture, while allows law enforcement officers to take cash and other property from individuals, even if the individuals never are convicted of a crime or ever face criminal charges. Once law enforcement seizes these assets, owners of the property must take legal action to get their property back; in many cases, the property owners never regain their property.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bans excessive fines, applies not only to federal government agencies, but also to state government agencies. As a result, local courts nationwide who are considering the constitutionality of civil forfeiture now must determine whether the seizure of a particular asset is excessive or highly disproportionate to the criminal activity in which it was allegedly involved.

USSC Decision Casts Doubt on Civil Forfeiture

Critics of civil forfeiture have long accused law enforcement officials of utilizing it as a mechanism to obtain revenue at the expensive of the public. Justice Ginsburg highlighted this criticism in her decision, identifying civil forfeiture as a source of revenue as opposed to mean of punishing criminal activity.

The recent Supreme Court ruling stemmed from the case of Tyson Timbs, an Indiana man who pled guilty to selling $225 worth of heroin to undercover police officers. Law enforcement officials then seized Timbs’ $42,000 Land Rover, which Justice Ginsburg noted was worth more than four times more the maximum fine of $10,000 that Timbs could have faced for his criminal offense. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against Timbs. If you find yourself charged with any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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SCOTUS Halts Execution of Intellectually Disabled Man

By Peek & Toland on April 22, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its decision in Moore v. Texas, which halted the planned execution of an intellectually disabled man in the state of Texas. In keeping with its precedent, the high Court ruled in this case that the state of Texas’s proposed execution of Moore was unlawful due to his intellectual disabilities. The Court reversed the lower state court ruling and found that Moore was ineligible for execution.

In its decision, the Court discounted the Texas court’s method of measuring intellectual disability. The state had relied on assessments concerning the man’s ability to lie and his leadership abilities, neither of which are clinically accepted methods of assessing intellectual disabilities. Rather, these assessments are extremely limited and rely on stereotypes about disabled persons in general. Texas also relied on IQ testing as a measure of intellectual disability, which also is a deeply flawed methodology for measuring intellectual disability. The decision, authored by Justice Ginsburg, specifically attacked the methodologies utilized by the Texas courts in determining the man to be fit for execution.

SCOTUS Halts Execution of Intellectually Disabled Man

The state of Texas has been attempting to execute Moore since 1980, when he was sentenced to death for his role in the robbery of a grocery store that led to a clerk’s death. The Texas Court of Appeals previously determined that Moore was not intellectually disabled due to his ability to mow the lawn, steal food, and use basic math. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, and remanded the case back to the Texas court to assess the man’s intellectual capacity based on medical or clinical expertise, rather than subjective criteria based on a character in a John Steinbeck novel that the state court cited in its decision.

After Texas still determined that Moore was eligible for execution, the Supreme Court finally stepped in and ruled otherwise. Of particular note was the fact that the Texas court solicited the opinions of five experts in measuring Moore’s intellect. Four of the five experts believe that Moore was intellectually disabled. The fifth expert disagreed, and the Texas court ultimately adopted the findings of the fifth expert, despite the opinions of the other four experts to the contrary. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. 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 criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Supreme Court to Rule if Immigrants Should Have their Detentions Reviewed by a Judge

By Peek & Toland on March 12, 2018

The question of whether immigrants can be held for indefinite periods in detention centers again came before the U.S. Supreme Court in October as the justices looked at whether detentions should be reviewed by a judge.

The Washington Post noted a divide between liberal and conservative judges on the question in the case of Jennings v Rodriguez.

It was the second time the nation’s highest court heard arguments in the case which has been hailed as one of the most important immigration cases to come before the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years. Last term, an evenly divided court lacking one member was deadlocked.

The Washington Post noted the liberal justices on the Supreme Court dominated discussions about the indefinite detention of immigrants facing deportation.

At issue is whether immigrants slated for deportation have a right to a bail hearing and potential release after six months if they do not pose a flight risk or a danger to the public. The hearing could impact thousands of immigrants being held in detention centers as they await possible deportation.

Should immigrants have their detentions reviewed by a judge?

Supreme Court to decide if immigrants should have detentions reviewed by a judge

The conservative justices were skeptical about whether the high court should be setting firm deadlines for hearings in the immigration courts.

The court heard from attorneys in the Justice Department that noncitizens – documented and undocumented – had no constitutional rights in the U.S.A.

A lawyer for the Justice Department told the high court that noncitizens — whether documented or undocumented immigrants — have no constitutional right to be in the United States.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch who has joined the bench since the last hearing is expected to cast the deciding vote.

Previously, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled immigrants who are fighting deportation should be given bond hearings if they have been held for over six months.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor mounted a strong case for bond hearings. She said noncitizens are languishing for years in detention centers, a situation she branded as “lawlessness.”

This case remains one of the most important immigration battles currently in the courts. It could have a major impact on the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

If you or a family member is fighting deportation, please contact our Texas immigration lawyers.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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Supreme Court Decision Means Fewer Children of Immigrants Will Gain Citizenship

By Peek & Toland on December 20, 2017

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June may mean fewer children of U.S. citizens are likely to gain citizenship themselves in the future.

The decision in Sessions v. Morales-Santana was criticized in some sections of the media and the immigrant community.

An article in Think Progress blasted it as an “unfortunate case.”  The justices concluded U.S. federal citizenship law gives preferential treatment to the children of unwed U.S. citizen mothers. However, the children of unwed citizen fathers are at a disadvantage.

The article said the consequence of the high court decision in Morales-Santana is that fewer sons and daughters of U.S. citizens will gain citizenship themselves, and more people will be subject to deportation.

The man who brought the case, Luis Ramón Morales-Santana, faces deportation to a nation he has not lived in since 1975.

The case sheds light on quirks in the citizenship laws in the United States.

Court hearing impacts children of U.S. citizens

Children of U.S. citizens are less likely to gain citizenship

If you are born to a U.S. citizen, you do not automatically become a citizen yourself. At the time of Morales-Santana’s birth, the child of a non-citizen and a citizen born overseas was only granted citizenship if their parent had been physically present in the United States.

The parent should have been physically present in the country or its outlying possessions for periods of not less than 10 years in total. At least five years must have been after attaining the age of 14 years.

This residency requirement has been changed since. It is now cut down to five years, and two after age 14.

Under federal law, an exception is granted for unwed mothers who are U.S. citizens. They are able to transmit their citizenship to their children after just a year of continuous physical presence in the country.

Morales-Santana fell foul of these complex rules. His father is a U.S. citizen who was born in the U.S. and lived here until 20 days before his 19th birthday.

His father just missed meeting the requirement that allowed him to pass his citizenship to his children.

The gender inequality is highlighted by the fact that had Morales-Santana been born to a U.S. citizen mother who had lived in the United States for the same amount of time as his father, he would be a citizen.

The justices concluded the gender line drawn by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act is incompatible with the Fifth Amendment’s requirement that the government accord to all persons “the equal protection of the laws.”

However, the justices decided the Supreme Court is not equipped to convert change the statute and it falls to Congress to pass a law with no gender bias.

An article in Slate alluded to the paradoxical nature of the decision. On the one hand, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion in the case struck a fatal blow against sex discrimination, it stated.

However, the court struck down the special rule for unwed mothers, applying a five-year residence requirement to all parents.

Is stripped Morales-Santana of the citizenship he was granted by the 2nd Circuit. Individuals in his position face the threat of deportation until the law is changed.

The court’s solution stands to exacerbate the problem of statelessness by making it more difficult for the children of unwed mothers living abroad to gain American citizenship, Slate concluded.

Acquisition of citizenship through your parents is one of the most complicated areas of the law. To find more talk to our Austin citizenship lawyers at (512) 474-4445 or see our resources on citizenship here.

Posted in Citizenship

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Trump’s Travel Ban – What the Supreme Court Must Consider

By Peek & Toland on September 23, 2017

President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban is heading to the Supreme Court in October after months of legal hearings. It is likely to be one of the most important cases the new look Supreme Court will decide.

In June, the highest court in the land allowed some parts of the travel ban to go ahead pending its hearing.

The court permitted the ban to go into effect for foreign nationals who lack a “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

In an unsigned opinion the court, left Trump’s travel ban against citizens of six majority-Muslim countries on hold as it related to non-citizens who had relationships with people or entities in the United States. This included most of the plaintiffs’ cases brought against the travel ban.

Examples of formal relationships include employees who accepted a job with a company in the US, and students accepted to universities in the United States, the court said.

Trump's Travel Ban is before the Supreme Court

Trump’s Travel Ban Will be held by the U.S. Supreme Court

The original travel ban caused chaos at airports in January when Trump issued an executive order. That ban was later suspended by the courts. A revised ban removed Iraq from the list of majority Muslim counties it affected and softened some of the other aspects.

Most reports suggest the partial implementation of the travel ban in the summer caused considerably less disruption than the original ban.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Adam Chilton and Genevieve Lakier, assistant professors of law at the University of Chicago Law School outlined the issues the justices will need to get to grips with when they consider the travel ban in October.

The justices will consider whether the president exceeded his constitutional authority.

Chilton and Lakier wrote the justices will have an opportunity to consider the long-standing legal principle known as the “plenary power doctrine.”

The doctrine gives the President of the United States and Congress power to take action over immigration law.

The academics argue the hearing would give the court to seize the opportunity to finally rid the legal system of this “outdated doctrine.”

Plenary power can be traced back to 1889 when the highest court in the land unanimously upheld a law barring Chinese laborers from returning to the United States once they left the country. The case has been used to give very broad discretion to politicians over who should be admitted to the United States.

The plenary power doctrine has led to some questionable decisions. It has been used to bar communists from the United States and to uphold laws that make it more difficult for men than women to pass citizenship on to their kids.

Chilton and Lakier argue the plenary power doctrine is outdated and has been used to justify racist decisions.

They said while the lower courts were concerned that Trump’s travel ban was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, they found “creative ways” to argue the ban did not deserve the deference the plenary power doctrine has been given. They concluded:

“It’s easy to understand why: Lower courts do not have the authority to overturn Supreme Court opinions. But the Supreme Court can overturn its own precedents, and it should take this opportunity to squarely reject the plenary power doctrine as both outdated and unnecessary.”

It remains to be seen if the nation’s highest court will overturn this fundamental piece of law.

However, the futures of thousands of people from six countries in the United States hang on the court’s ruling.

If you have been impacted by Trump’s travel ban, it makes sense to talk to an experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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Detention of Immigrants Without Bonds is Considered by Supreme Court

By Peek & Toland on February 3, 2017

Late last year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that has been described as one of the most important immigration matters it considered last year. It related to the detention of immigrants without bonds.

The case started as a class action that was filed in California. It raises questions about whether the federal government has the power to deny some immigrants in detention the right for a neutral party to decide if they have the right to a bond.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, certain immigrants to the United States must be detained while their removal proceedings proceed.

Immigrant bonds considered by Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court tackled the issue of bonds for immigrants

However, some of them can be released on bond if they can demonstrate that they do not pose a flight risk or are a danger to the public.

The federal government detains many immigrants for extended periods without giving them an opportunity to request release on bond.

The case was brought by Alejandro Rodriguez, a lawful permanent resident who came to the United States when he was just one-year-old.

Immigration authorities held him in 2004 after he admitted misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to probation for the crime.

When Rodriguez wanted to be released on bond, immigration officials denied him the right to ask a judge. He was told he was ineligible for bond because of his controlled substance conviction as well as a joyriding conviction five years earlier.

The court report said Rodriguez was held for more than three years as he fought his immigration case, without once being allowed to request a judge for bond.

The refusal to allow him to seek a bond hearing flew in the face of his strong ties to the United States. His parents were U.S. citizens and he worked as a dental assistant.

He was eventually released from his detention but only after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class action lawsuit. Rodriguez was subsequently granted cancellation of removal. He was allowed to remain in the United States as a permanent resident.

Court Rules in Favor of Hearings for Bonds for Immigrants

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that immigrants who are facing deportation from the United States should be held no more than six months in custody. The justices identified special circumstances in which an exception should be made. These include when immigrants pose a national security threat.

The Ninth Circuit has held that immigrants like Rodriguez, in addition to asylum-seekers who turned themselves in at the border, must be given bond hearings every six months. The onus is on the government to justify continued detention by presenting convincing evidence that an immigrant posed a danger to the community or a flight risk. The government challenged the decision and sought Supreme Court review, which was granted.

U.S. Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn defended the mandatory detention without bond saying it would ensure immigrants appear for their hearings and don’t commit further offenses.

The American Civil Liberties Union accused the government of understating the time immigrants are held to bolster its case before a previous case more than 10 years ago.

Our Texas cancellation of removal attorneys can help you in bond and other immigration cases. Please call us at (512) 474-4445 to learn more about our legal services.


Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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