Green card holders living in California are sometimes worried that even minor brushes with the law could lead to their deportation. While some forms of criminal activity can lead to a person being deported, small offenses will rarely have such serious consequences. However, the law in this area is subject to interpretation.
According to reports, California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed one new bill that provides some protection for immigrants charged with drug offenses, while he vetoed another. The result is that immigrants will enjoy more protections, but they will still face the possibility of their offenses triggering deportation and removal proceedings.
California residents may have heard about the immigrant families that have been held at the three family immigration detention facilities in Pennsylvania and Texas. For months, immigration attorneys and advocates have urged the Obama administration to release mothers and children from the facilities and end the practice of family detention altogether. On July 13, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that ICE would start releasing women and children from the detention centers after reviewing their cases.
California immigrants may encounter challenges when seeking legal assistance in a variety of situations. Language and cultural barriers may make communication difficult, and if a case is handled incorrectly, an immigrant may have little realization of the fact that this has occurred. In some situations, a deportation could even occur because of a legal error. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that federal appeals courts have the ability to intervene in cases requiring review based on legal errors.
California residents may be interested to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to reconsider an appeals court decision striking down an Arizona law that denied bail to illegal immigrants charged with serious felonies. The rejection, announced on June 1, means that the lower court's ruling that the law is unconstitutional stands.
The process for immigrants to become naturalized citizens is long and complex, so it is only natural that they be concerned about whether they could be deported if they are convicted of a crime, whether the conviction occurs in California or any other state. While a conviction is not likely to lead to deportation when the crime was committed after the individual became a naturalized citizen, there are some rare cases in which deportation is possible.
During removal proceedings, immigration officials in California and around the country have the option of exercising prosecutorial discretion, which is the authority that Department of Homeland Security officials have to choose to stop removal proceedings. Immigration officials may use this power to close existing removal proceedings or decline to initiate new removal proceedings.
California residents may be interested in learning more about factors that can affect immigration status. The commission of certain crimes by foreign nationals may jeopardize their immigration status and, in some instances, lead to their deportation from the United States. As a general rule, immigration status can be changed if a non-citizen is convicted of a felony. Further, if a non-citizen is convicted of an "aggravated felony" or a crime involving "moral turpitude," the government may deport the non-citizen without an opportunity to dispute the deportation. The non-citizen may also be barred from entering the U.S. at any point in the future.
If an illegal alien violates immigration or criminal laws while in the United States, he or she may be deported or removed from the country. As removal is a formal legal process, the person being deported has the ability to challenge the deportation on a variety of different grounds.
A new study on deportation hearings in California has demonstrated the importance of legal representation for immigrants. According to a study that was conducted in part by the Immigrants' Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School, immigrants who are facing deportation are three times more likely to be allowed to stay in the U.S. when they have help from a lawyer. The Northern California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice was also involved in the study.