Millions of undocumented immigrants are holding their collective breaths waiting for Immigration Reform. To many young undocumented immigrants, the United States is their home. They were brought here as children and have been raised here like any other American child. Yet these immigrants live in fear of deportation every day.
Immigration Reform has been a hot topic in current events. In recent years, true immigration reform has been close to a reality several times before the bottom dropped out. In truth, substantial immigration reform has a long way to go.
The most promising immigration reform bill, Dream Act, passed the House of Representative, but failed in the Senate in December 2011. The Dream Act allows young people who were brought into the country by their parents to become citizens if they join the military or go to college. Lawmakers are still actively debating this issue with no end in sight.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, the good news is that you are probably not an immediate target of deportation if you have been a Good Samaritan. On June 16, 2011, the Director of the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a memorandum clarifying ICE's prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement matters. Specifically, this memorandum urges ICE to focus on "dangerous criminals" and to take "particular care and consideration" when undocumented immigrants are veterans, elderly, ill, have been in the country for a long time, or are victims of crimes among other equitable factors. ICE has the discretion to pursue certain undocumented immigrants that are serious felons or pose a clear risk to national security. Simply stated, ICE encourages its agents, officers and attorneys to focus resources on the criminal aliens as opposed to aliens who overstay, which is considered a civil offense. This memorandum also serves to remind the agency that it has the discretion to not pursue certain cases. Although this memorandum is not a binding policy or law, it may show a changing attitude towards undocumented immigrants that have led productive lives in the United States.
The new ICE memorandum is NOT meant for immigrants to interpret as amnesty or new relief. Statistics show that the Obama Administration actually deported a record-breaking 392,000 undocumented immigrants in the fiscal year 2010. About half of these deportations were immigrants without any criminal background. Therefore, immigrants without status are still being placed into removal proceedings at an overwhelming rate.
The government is no longer waiting to put immigrants without status into removal proceeding. Therefore, it is important to have knowledgeable attorneys handle your immigration matters. Without adequate representation, you may find yourself in court for removal even though you are eligible for legal status. For those individuals that are waiting for reform, please be aware that deportation can be right around the corner. Immigration reform may not be your only source of relief. Alternative relief such as adjustment of status, cancellation of removal proceedings, VAWA cancellation, and asylum may apply to those who find themselves in removal proceedings. Not all forms of relief apply to everyone, but an experienced attorney can assess the situation promptly and advise an appropriate relief.
If you find yourself in removal proceedings, be sure to seek an experienced lawyer to represent you. The Lawyers of Wilner and O'Reilly have successfully assisted and continue to assist clients that find themselves in removal proceedings. Our dedicated attorneys have extensive experience in immigration court with various forms of reliefs. With three convenient locations in Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire, we are ready to assist you in all your immigration matters. Call us at 800-352-7034 for a free consultation or visit us on our website at www.wilneroreilly.com. Don't hold your breath for immigration reform. Take matters into your own hands now. Keep your dreams of remaining in the United States alive.