Throughout his entire presidency, Donald Trump has spent much of his efforts attempting to dismantle our entire immigration system. It all began with the the Muslim ban - where the Trump administration prohibited individuals from immigrating to the United States who were from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Then President Trump issued an executive order taking away the ability for individuals to apply for DACA (that order was in place for years prior to a recent federal court decision overturning it). President Trump has also done everything in his power to take away the ability for individuals to apply for asylum - from his third country ban to limiting the legal definition of who qualifies for asylum. Most recently, President Trump has used Covid-19 as an excuse to completely close the borders and prevent anyone from applying for asylum at the border. This is a limited list of all the immigration policy changes that President Trump has made, to discuss all of them would take hours.
On December 22, Joe Biden stated that he would roll back President Trump's immigration policies - but that it would "take time." High on the list of priorities is President Trump's Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) whereby certain migrants applying for asylum in the United States must wait in Mexico for their case to be heard. This policy in fact did not protect any migrants, but instead has put their lives in danger. Be patient with this policy this as Joe Biden has already stated that it will take months to create a new system replacing this current one.
Now that the Democrats have control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, we can also expect for new legislation to be entered giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship.
Biden also plans on ending the agreements the United States has with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whereby the U.S. government would send asylum seekers to those countries and require them to apply for asylum there.
To summarize, we can expect Joe Biden to make significant changes to the immigration policies enacted by President Trump, but we need to expect that it will take months for these new policies to go into effect.
The author is an immigration attorney that practices in Alexandria, Louisiana. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance anywhere in the world, give us a call today!
On Friday, December 4, 2020, federal judge Nicholas Garaufis directed the Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday that it will accept petitions from new applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Prior to this ruling from Judge Garaufis. federal courts only required the Trump administration to allow DACA renewals, they never made any decisions about the ability of an individual to submit new applications. Friday's ruling changes all of that.
USCIS just updated its website on December 7, 2020 reflecting this decision. Applicants qualify for DACA if they meet the following criteria:
If you wish to apply for DACA, then you need to submit the following evidence to support your application:
Examples of Documents to Submit to Demonstrate you Meet the Guidelines
Please see the instructions (PDF, 293.72 KB) to Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, for further details on acceptable documentation.
Proof of identity
Proof you came to U.S. before your 16th birthday
Proof of immigration status
Proof of presence in U.S. on June 15, 2012
Proof you continuously resided in U.S. since June 15, 2007
Proof of your student status at the time of requesting DACA
Proof you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.
The application fee to apply for DACA (including seeking work authorization) is $495. If you need assistance applying for DACA, contact Liberty Law Group today for a free consultation.
On June 15, 2020, the Trump administration issued new proposed rules pertaining to asylum seekers. While these rules have not gone into effect yet, they will result in a devastating blow to asylum seekers if they pass the rulemaking process.
First, this rule makes several changes to the credible fear screening process. Under current immigration and asylum law, arriving aliens to the United States are given a credible fear interview. This is an interview which takes place usually over the phone by an asylum officer and an interpreter. The asylum officer interviews the arriving alien to determine whether that person has a credible fear of returning to the alien's home country or country of residence. If the alien does not pass the credible fear interview, the alien is given an opportunity to appeal that decision before an immigration judge and ask the judge to vacate the decision of the asylum officer. If the alien either passes the credible fear interview or has an immigration judge issue a decision vacating the decision of the asylum officer then the alien will have an opportunity to apply for asylum with an immigration judge and have a full blown asylum hearing.
First, the standard of proof would be heightened, placing an increasingly difficult burden on the alien to prove his case and who, at this stage of the matter, is not entitled to have an attorney represent him. Additionally, for anyone found to have a frivolous case for asylum, the alien would be permanently barred from ever seeking relief in the future.
Also, in every asylum case, an immigration judge is given an opportunity to deny the asylum claims in discretionary grounds. This rule seeks to add a provision given the judge an additional opportunity to deny on discretionary grounds if the alien either entered or attempted to enter the United States illegally.
Third, the Trump definition is also seeking to narrow the definition of "particular social group" by adding certain categories of individuals who would not per se meet the "particular social group" definition. More specifically, the proposed regulation provides a “nonexhaustive” list of nine “circumstances” that “without additional evidence” would be considered “generally insufficient to demonstrate a particular social group that is cognizable because it is immutable, socially distinct, and particular.” The nine circumstances excluded from consideration as members of a particular social group are: 1) Past or present criminal activity or association (including gang membership); 2) presence in a country with generalized violence or a high crime rate; 3) being the subject of a recruitment effort by criminal, terrorist, or persecutory groups; 4) the targeting of the applicant for criminal activity for financial gain based on perceptions of wealth or affluence; 5) interpersonal disputes of which governmental authorities were unaware or uninvolved; 6) private criminal acts of which governmental authorities were unaware or uninvolved; 7) past or present terrorist activity or association; 8) past or present persecutory activity or association; or 9) status as an alien returning from the United States.
Fourth, the proposed regulation seeks to limit the "political opinion" asylum category by requiring that for a “political opinion” to form the basis of an asylum or withholding of removal claim it would have to relate specifically to political control of a government. This would exclude many categories of political opinion such as those people fighting for reform of its government or people opposing certain laws or regulations issued by the government.
Finally, the rule also seeks to change the term of "persecution" by making the definition more severe than what is presently required. The rule defines persecution as “an extreme concept involving a severe level of harm that includes actions so severe that they constitute an exigent threat.”
These proposed rules simply provide further proof that the Trump administration will go to any length necessary to prevent people from entering the United States. It is simply another step in cutting off the United States from the world around us and preventing us from complying with the international treaties that we are signatories to.
Netflix's latest documentary "Immigration Nation" is a lesson to all of us about how far we have fallen as a nation when it comes to welcoming the tired, poor and huddled masses. Instead, we have become a nation that puts deadly roadblocks in the path the most desperate seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
As an attorney, it reminds me why I chose to enter the practice of immigration law ten years ago. Our nation was built by immigrants and it is in immigrants where our ultimate identity lies.
The great part about Immigration Nation is that it shows the perspective from all sides: from ICE's policymaking decisions as an organization to that of individual ICE officers to the immigrants themselves whose lives are being torn apart by our nation's immoral and inhumane immigration policies.
The show starts off with a bang as the filmmakers were given inside access to multiple ICE raids which took place across the country in 2018. I remember yelling inside my mind really loudly "DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!!! DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!!!!" Sadly, the immigrants who were arrested during filming did in fact open their door despite the fact that ICE never showed them a valid warrant signed by a federal judge, which is what is required when ICE conducts home raids and doesn't have the permission of the individual whose home is being raided.
This show also showed me something which I already knew, within ICE there are a lot of really good officers who truly have compassion upon the immigrants they are interacting with and there are a lot of bad officers who want nothing more in life to rid this country of any person living here illegally, regardless of their personal character or contribution to our nation.
Where the show truly soars though is in episode 1 where it shows how ICE's family separation policy impacts those families against whom the policy targets. You see these families, you hear their story and can't believe what you are seeing. It's tragic - children spending months away from their parents in prisons which double as foster homes.
This documentary shows the dark side of our nation - what happens when nationalistic self-interest prevails over compassion. If you happen to have six hours of free time on your hands, you can't go wrong with choosing to spend your time watching this show. It will open your eyes...and make you want to scream and pull all your hair out.
Since 2016, thousands of Cameroonians have fled the country and are seeking asylum in the United States. The reason? A civil war.
As a result of unfair treatment by their Francophone counterparts, in September 2017, separatists from the Anglophone territories of the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, declared their independence. As a result, thousands of Cameroonians have died.
The civil war is the result of years of marginalization of the Anglophones (English Speaking population) by the Francophones (French speaking population). In fact, approximately 80% of the population is composed of Francophones and the remaining 20% is comprised of Anglophones.
Cameroon's government is largely controlled by the Francophones and the Anglophones have felt isolated from the process. Even though turmoil has been going on for a long time, the most recent violence stems from a peaceful protest in Yaounde which was organized by English speaking lawyers and teachers due to the fact that the Francophones were forcing the Anglophones to assimilate into the Francophone legal and educational institutions.
Instead of allowing these protests to continue, the government cracked down by arresting and killing a number of the protestors. This action by the government only served to embolden those Anglophones which were calling for an independent state.
As a result of the growing tension in Cameroon, thousands of Anglophones have had no choice but to flee the country and seek asylum in the United States. Sadly, ever since appearing at the U.S. border, ICE has largely kept these individuals remain detained for months at a time before having an opportunity to bring their case before an immigration judge. Since 2016, a fair number of asylum cases have already been granted and many of these Anglophones are now living as an asylee in the United States.
Attorneys at Liberty Law Group have had an incredible opportunity to represent these individuals in immigration Court and have, so far, won every single asylum case involving a Cameroonian. If your loved one is seeking asylum in the United States and looking for a competent lawyer to represent them in their immigration proceedings, give us a call and let us represent you!
Aggravated felonies often mean the end of the road for anyone trying to obtain a green card in the United States. This doesn't mean, however, that getting one is entirely impossible. Too often when immigration attorneys get cold calls and they learn that the potential client has an aggravated felony on their record, their immediate response is: "sorry, I can't help you." While this may often end up being the case - there are certain situations in which an individual with an aggravated felony might in fact still be eligible for a green card.
The first question to consider is to determine whether you even have a conviction. Sadly, many people who plead "nolo contendere" or no contest to a criminal charge still plead guilty for purposes of immigration law. Additionally, people who enter into pretrial diversion might, in some instances, also unknowingly enter into a conviction for immigration purposes. Under immigration law, the definition of a conviction is:
Assuming, you have a conviction for immigration purposes, the next question is to consider whether your conviction constitutes an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act includes the complete list of what constitutes an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. This list ranges from murder to fraud where the damage to the victim is in excess of $10,000 to theft or burglary offenses where the term of imprisonment is at least one year.
The moment an individual is convicted of an aggravated felony, that individual (who is not a U.S. citizen) can almost certainly expect Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer to come pick you up and put you in removal proceedings. If you already have a green card, you might be eligible to re-apply for your green card or "re-adjust" your status in the United States. If you do not have a green card yet, but are otherwise eligible for adjustment of status (meaning you entered the United States while being inspected or admitted and subsequently have a U.S. citizen immediate relative) then you can apply for adjustment of status while in removal proceedings, while at the same time seeking a waiver for your conviction.
The good news is that an aggravated felony is not a per se bar to admissibility in the United States, but the conviction might constitute another ground of inadmissibility other than an aggravated felony. Most often, a conviction of an aggravated felony also constitutes a conviction involving moral turpitude which is a ground of inadmissibility.
Ultimately, determining whether you can obtain a green card with an aggravated felony conviction involves a lot of thorough research, which many immigration attorneys are not even able to do. If you need help determining whether your particular conviction may bar you from obtaining a green card, call Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group for a free consultation. Allow our vast experience to guide you through the various legal landmines that might be out there. Louisiana immigration attorneys have spent years practicing and teaching immigration law.
There is no question that every segment of society has been effected by Covid-19. Sadly, the most vulnerable populations are not receiving much needed attention and, as a result, the plight of many individuals is being ignored. One such population are immigrants which are detained and in removal proceedings in immigration courts across the country.
In March of 2020, and in response to the Covid outbreak, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (a part of the Department of Justice which oversees all removal proceedings in the United States) essentially shut down all non-detained cases through the end of May 2020. All detained hearings were supposed to go on as usual. Despite no official closure by EOIR, many immigration judges handling the detained docket have made personal decisions either not to go to work or to cancel all of their hearings. In addition to this, any time an individual appears in a detained courtroom and there is even the slightest possibility that this individual was around infected people, the courts will completely shut down. The result of these actions is that most detained cases have also come to a standstill.
Despite the fact that our office handles a majority of detained cases, we have seen hearing after hearing after hearing cancelled and rescheduled for a much later date. This is not the case for every immigration judge, as some judges remain faithful to move their cases forward to the best of their ability and within the limits allowed by EOIR.
Making matters worse, the Covid outbreak has finally reached these detention centers and infecting many individuals. As of the present date, ICE has 606 confirmed cases of detained individuals that have tested positive. Given the close proximity that detained individuals are at these detention centers, the number of cases will continue to spread rapidly. In fact, in Richwood Correctional Center alone, there are already 61 detainees that have tested positive.
The sad reality is that from the beginning, ICE has not done much at all to prevent the spread of coronavirus and the concerns of the healthcare workers working to serve the detained immigrant population. ICE continues to transfer thousands of individuals in and out of these facilities causing even greater risk for causing an outbreak at these detention centers.
To make matters even worse, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the very organization whose mission it is to protect the vulnerable immigrant population, has filed a motion for temporary restraining order with the United States District Court for the District of Oregon asking to shut down all detained hearings.
As a result of all of these events, what we have is tens of thousands of individuals who remain in close proximity to individuals who have been infected with the virus and do not have the ability of being released since their cases have all stalled and ICE isnt' granting requests for parole. Case in point, Liberty Law Group has a specific client that suffers from both asthma and diabetes for whom we made a parole request, which has not even received a response from ICE. There are thousands of other non-violent immigrant detainees who suffer from underlying conditions and extremely susceiptible to death from Covid-19, but ICE refuses to release them as well.
What can be done about this? While Covid-19 presents a complicated problem, the solution is easy. First and foremost, all immigrant detainees who suffer underlying conditions and don't have a criminal history evidencing violence against persons should be given supervised release. Second, ICE should put a hold on intra-facility transfers so that individuals from outside these facilities don't bring Covid-19 with them into these facilities. Finally, EOIR should do everything possible to keep the detained docket moving so that the individuals who will not be released will have their day in court and not linger in these detention centers month after month.
Louisiana immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group have clients scattered in detention centers all throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. If you have a loved one in detention and in need of assistance, call us today for a free consultation. Even if you ultimately choose not to retain us, we can still lead you in the right direction.
Despite years of public education urging people not to drink and drive, there are far too many people in our society who continue to put themselves and others at risk when they get behind the wheel after consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol. In many cases, past convictions and interventions from friends and family fail to curb this practice. Drunk driving is responsible for a third of all road deaths in the United States.
For years, the legal blood alcohol limit to operate a motor vehicle has been 0.08% for drivers of personal vehicles. Drivers of commercial vehicles, however, have a lower limit that depends on the state. Because any amount of alcohol can negatively affect the ability to operate a motorized vehicle in a safe manner, all states also have “catch-all” provisions which allow drivers to be charged with DUI if they are impaired by alcohol, even if they are technically below the legal limit. There is no excuse for putting innocent lives at risk by driving after consuming alcohol.
On certain days of the year such as New Years Eve and Saint Patrick’s Day, police often employ checkpoints to screen for drunk drivers on the roads. Unfortunately, the threat of arrest is not always enough to convince addicts to give up their keys. If you are driving and notice erratic behavior with fellow drivers, you should alert the police immediately. Signs to watch out for include vehicles that cross medians or swerve between lanes, constant slamming on brakes, and cars traveling the wrong direction on ramps or two-lane roads. These all could be warning signs that the driver is impaired by alcohol or other intoxicants.
Passengers who knowingly get into a car with an intoxicated driver are risking their own lives and are often giving up any opportunity they might have for recovery. Louisiana employs a legal standard called comparative negligence, meaning that if you get into the car with a drunk driver, your ability to bring a claim is decreased on the basis of your own culpability. You may think that you are doing the right thing by giving up your own keys, but getting into a vehicle with a drunk driver is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk yourself.
Because drunk driving accidents are so dangerous, victims of a drunk driver often face increased pressure to settle from insurance companies. If the drunk driver’s auto insurance calls you in the days immediately following an accident, they may make promises or offer to cover all your medical expenses if you sign a release right away. Never accept anything from an insurance company until you have spoken to an Alexandria, Louisiana drunk driving accident lawyer, or you could lose your chance to get the recovery you deserve. Attorney Chris Roy understands the challenges of dealing with insurance companies after devastating accidents and will give you the advice you need to make an informed, intelligent decision about your case. Don’t leave your case to chance.
The South Louisiana Correctional Center is Louisiana's newest ICE processing center. Located in Basile, Louisiana, this correctional center is approximately an hour away from Lafayette, Louisiana and an hour and a half away from Alexandria, Louisiana.
Just like the other ICE processing centers in Louisiana, the South Louisiana Correctional Center is located in rural Louisiana, far away from any immigration attorneys. Just like the LaSalle ICE Processing Center and the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, the South Louisiana Correctional center is run by a government contractor that has contracts with many Department of Homeland Security Facilities across the country - the GEO Group. As such, this facility has very strict rules for visitors. For example, family and friend visitations must be scheduled in advance, any individual visiting the facility must bring proof of identification and no electronic devices may be brought into the facility, even for immigration attorneys.
When you first enter the South Louisiana Correctional Center, you will have to go through security and give the employees your driver's license. Just like the other GEO facilities, you will probably have to wait a significant amount of time before meeting with your friend or family member, even if you schedule your meeting in advance as employees from the South Louisiana Correctional Center and other GEO facilities have a policy of not having the family members waiting in the meeting room at the time requested - they will have to go and locate them once you enter the facility and tell them who you want to meet. Even worse, if they are doing count (confirming that all of the detainees are present and accounted for), you will have to wait until count is over, which could easily last for an extra hour.
The meeting room itself is a bare bones room with plastic chairs for people inside the room to sit in. Meetings may not last longer than two hours.
The South Louisiana Correctional Center is a female only facility, and has females from countries throughout the world, from Central and South America to China. The majority of detainees at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, are recent arrivals, but many of them have lived in the United States for many years.
Presently, the immigration court in San Juan, Puerto Rico has administrative control over detainees housed at the South Louisiana Correctional Center. This means that at the hearings, the judge will appear by video teleconference. In fact, the DHS ICE attorneys will also be appearing in Puerto Rico via televideo conference. This means that the detainees must either mail all of their filings directly to Puerto Rico, or fax file the papers with the immigration court (a privilege which has been given to the detainees who might not have any other means to file paperwork with the immigration court).
Unlike many other detention centers in Louisiana, the judges assigned to detainees at the South Louisiana Correctional Center are extremely fair and will give your loved one a fair chance to either obtain bond or win their case. Obviously, this depends upon a lot of factors relating to the strength and weakness of each case, the connections between the detainee and the United States, the number of family members the detainees have in the United States, the detainee's criminal history and a host of other relevant factors.
If you are coming from a long distance to visit a loved one at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, it is advisable for you to stay in Lafayette, Louisiana as this city has nice hotels and restaurants. It is easy to rent a car from Lafayette to Basile, Louisiana.
If you are visiting Louisiana for the first time while visiting a loved one at the South Louisiana Correctional Center and want to make the most out of your trip, make sure to see Mamou. Mamou, a town of fewer than 5,000 people, is located in the heart of Cajun Country and considers itself the Cajun Capital of the World. Make sure to go visit Fred's Lounge -a local bar with incredible Cajun music, depending upon the day of the week of course (Saturday
If you are searching for an immigration attorney to represent a friend or family member at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, here is why you should an immigration attorney at Liberty Law Group:
Lasalle Detention Facility is located in Jena, Louisiana. Jena lies in the heart of central Louisiana approximately 4 hours north of New Orleans and two and a half hours north of Lafayette. Unfortunately for the immigrants detained at the Lasalle Detention Facility, there are not any experienced immigration attorneys located in Jena, Louisiana. The closest law office to Jena, Louisiana is located in Alexandria, Louisiana where several immigration attorneys provide services to immigrants located at the Lasalle Detention Facility, including immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group. Alexandria, Louisiana is located only one hour south of the Lasalle Detention Facility (also known as the Lasalle ICE Processing Center).
Located in the same facility to the Lasalle Detention Facility is the Lasalle Immigration Court. Interestingly, Lasalle Detention Facility is one of only two facilities (out of about ten or so different detention centers in the state) where the immigrants sit in the same courtroom as the immigration judges who are adjudicating their case. There are approximately five immigration judges who oversee cases at the Lasalle Immigration Court, but out of the five, only three immigration judges actually hear cases for detainees who are housed at the Lasalle Detention Facility - Judge Fuller, Judge Munson and Judge Thogerson. The other two immigration judges adjudicate cases by video telephone conference at other immigration detention centers in the state of Louisiana.
When hiring an immigration attorney to represent immigrants at the Lasalle Detention Facility, it is important to know how each of these judges rule, what kind of evidence they want at the hearing, and how the attorneys are supposed to conduct themselves in the courtroom. Fortunately, immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group have substantial experience with each of these judges - in fact they have been practicing immigration law at this immigration court even before these immigration judges were appointed.
Immigrants housed at the Lasalle Detention Facility not only come from Louisiana, but from the entire country. Over the last several years, the Lasalle Detention Facility has also received thousands of arriving aliens who have recently arrived in the country from the U.S. Mexico border. In a certain sense, the Lasalle Detention Facility has become an immigration hub for ICE to send individuals who are in removal proceedings.
Before President Trump took office, the Lasalle Detention Facility only served as a housing facility and there was no immigration court. The immigrants at this facility were seen by immigration judges in Oakdale, Louisiana - approximately an hour and a half away. This process didn't work well since immigration judges at the Oakdale Immigration Court were also overseeing cases for immigrants detained at the Pine Prairie Detention Facility.
When President Trump first took office, there were no permanent immigration judges assigned to the Lasalle Immigration Court, so the Department of Homeland Security had to assign other judges from all over the country who mostly appeared by video telephone conference. For a period of about a year, several immigration judges in Miami, Florida were responsible for handling the case load for immigrants housed at the Lasalle Detention Facility. In fact, the permanent immigration judges who are now assigned to the Lasalle Immigration Court have only been at this position for about two years.
The Lasalle Detention Facility has been the one constant thing in a state full of changes made by ICE, with new facilities being added seemingly every month, the Lasalle Detention Facility has remained. If a new administration takes over in the coming years, many of these other immigration centers may close, but the Lasalle Detention Facility will most likely remain open, for many years to come.
While there are many immigration attorneys to choose from who take cases at the Lasalle Immigration Court, it is important to find the right one. Immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group regularly visit clients at the Lasalle Detention Facility. We offer free consultations, even many times traveling to meet with potential clients at the Lasalle Detention Facility before charging any fees. If you do decide to retain our services, we will be upfront about our fees and explain the process to you, from beginning to end.
Chris lives in Alexandria, Louisiana where he enjoys playing with his girls and being the best husband he can possibly be.