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.
Just a few months ago, ICE recently opened up a new detention facility located at Adam's County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi. This facility is run and operated by CoreCivic, one of many federal independent contractors which contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house thousands of inmates. This particular facility houses approximately 2,200 detainees. In total, there are approximately 425 CoreCivic employees that are in charge of running this particular facility.
If you have a friend or family member that is being detained at this facility, you can visit them by traveling to the following address: 20 Hobo Fork Road, Natchez, Mississippi 39120. While immigrant detainees at this facility are not allowed to make outgoing calls, you can call and leave a message for them to call you back at (601) 304-3003. However, they must have money deposited into their account before they are allowed to make outgoing calls. Click the link HERE for instructions on how to deposit money into your loved one's account.
If you want to visit your friend or family member at the Adams County Correctional Center, you must make sure to schedule a visit during the hours of visitation. Most federal contractors are extremely particular about this rule and if you either fail to schedule a visit or show up during non-visiting hours, you will likely be turned away...even if you have traveled from long distances to arrive at the Adams County Correctional Center. Hours of visitation for this facility differ depending upon the security level of the individual being visited. If your friend or family member is a low security male, you can visit them from Friday through Monday in certain hours. Click on the link HERE in order to find the exact visitation hours for your particular friend or family member. There are no vistitation hours between Monday and Wednesday so if you show up on any of these days you can expect to be turned away. Also, make sure to bring with you government issued identity card such as a driver's license, green card or passport in order to enter the facility. You also must be the age of 18 or older to visit this facility, so if you plan on visiting this facility, don't bring any minors with you. You also are not allowed to bring any cell phones or other electronic devices such as an Apple Watch with you into the facility.
The wesbite at this facility states that if you have a loved one here and need more information from the immigration court, you can call them at 1800-898-7180. If you call this number, you will only reach an automated voice response that only gives you very general information about your loved one's case such as time and date of your loved one's next hearing. If you want more specific information about your loved one's case, you should contact the immigration court directly.
There are no immigration judges at the Adams County Correctional Center. The immigration court in charge of conducting hearings at the Adams County Correctional Center is located in New York City, New York. More specifically, the immigration court at 201 Varick Street, 5th Floor, Room 507, New York, NY 10014 is in charge of conducting hearings. Any documents that are filed by the immigrant in detention proceedings must be directly filed at this address. DO NOT SEND ANY DOCUMENTS YOU INTEND TO FILE DIRECTLY TO THE ADAMS COUNTY CORRECTIONAL CENTER AS THEY WILL NOT ACCEPT THESE DOCUMENTS. If you have any questions about this, you are encouraged to call the Varick Street Immigration Court directly at (646) 638-5766.
Any documents filed with the Varick Street Immigration Court must also be served upon the attorneys working for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The ICE service address is 201 Varick Street, Room 1130, New York, NY 10014. YOU MUST INCLUDE A SEPERATE CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE WITH THIS ADDRESS FOR ANY DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE VARICK STREET IMMIGRATION COURT.
Fortunately, immigration attorneys at the Adams County Correctional Center are allowed to visit their clients 7 days a week so if you have an emergency and need to find someone, give immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group a call and we would be more than happy to provide assistance to you as we have many clients located at this facility and we are only a short drive away.
Additionally, immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group have experience with the Varick Street Immigration Court immigration judges. Overall, these judges are extremely fair and will give you a reasonable bond if you properly prepare your bond application and meet enough of the bond factors in order for the immigration judge to exercise its discretion to grant bond.
Natchez, Mississippi is known as a vacation destination for many tourists wanting to experience the old south so if you happen to visit this facility, you will have plenty of dining and lodging options available to you. According to www.vacationidea.com below is a list of the top 20 things to do and see while in Natchez, Mississippi:
As you can clearly see, there is a lot to see in do while visiting your loved one who is detained at the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi. If you want to give your loved one the very best chance for obtaining bond or winning their case in immigration court, please contact immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group and we will walk with you through every step of the process.
On November 19, 2019, the United States Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security published a joint interim final rule pertaining to aliens who are subject to at least one of the Asylum Cooperative Agreements that the United States has entered pursuant to Section 208(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
What are these Asylum Cooperative Agreements? Found within the Immigration and Nationality Act, is a seldom used rule that allows the United States to deny asylum to an individual who can be sent to a "Safe Third Country." This law allows the United States to remove an asylum seeker to another country with which the United States has entered into such an agreement. This third country would then determine whether this individual merits protection under its asylum laws.
Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, in order to remove an asylum seeker to a safe third country, the United States has to prove that (1) the person would not be persecuted in that third country; and (2) that third country can provide a "full and fair" procedure to request asylum.
Prior to the present administration taking office, the only Safe Third Country agreement was entered into between the United States and Canada and this agreement only applies to individuals who pass through Canada to enter the United States and who pass through the United States to enter Canada. This agreement does, however, allow individuals who pass through Canada to apply for asylum in the United States if the person passing through has a family member so long as the family member has legal status in the United States or is applying for asylum.
Ever since President Trump came into office, the United States has since entered into Safe Third Country agreements with El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. These agreements contain none of the exceptions provided for in the Safe Third Country agreement between the United States and Canada. Also, these agreements do not contain any provision that the agreement only applies to persons passing through these countries. In essence, what this means is that if an individual passes through Mexico to apply for asylum in the United States, that person might be removed to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala pursuant to these agreements. These rules technically could also apply to individuals from Mexico seeking asylum in the United States. What this means in real terms is that the United States could send any asylum seeker to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and make them apply for asylum in one of those countries.
With this context in mind, let's go back and take a look at the new joint interim rule the United States Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security just published. First, and foremost this rule only applies to aliens who arrive at a United States Port of Entry or enter or attempt to enter the United States ports of entry, on or after November 19, 2019.
Second, this rule clearly states that it only applies to aliens who are subject to these Safe Third Country agreements. The next question then becomes who exactly is subject to these agreements? Most news agencies believe that only those people who first pass through either Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador are the ones subject to these agreements, but a careful review of the text of these agreements does not appear to support this position. In fact the text of the agreements only states who is not subject to the agreement, not who is subject to the agreement. For example, the Asylum Cooperative Agreement between the United States and Guatemala only states that it does not apply to citizens or nationals of Guatemala - it does not state who it applies to. This is an issue that will need significant clarification as this program moves forward.
Third, aliens who are subject to these agreements will have an opportunity to establish that it would be "more likely than not" that the alien's life or freedom would be threatened in the third country on account of a protected ground or that the alien would be tortured in the third country." Essentially, if the alien proves that they would be harmed in the third country in which they are being sent, they will be able to seek asylum in the United States. This "more likely than not" burden of proof is absurd and is way more difficult to prove than the asylum burden of proof where the alien must only show a "credible fear of persecution." Supporting such a heavy burden of proof often requires significant documentation and much preparation. The problem is that this burden of proof is being determined by asylum officers at the border immediately upon entry by the alien into the United States - by the time the alien goes through the first screening step, they will not have sufficient time to prepare their case and bring such evidence in order to meet this heavy burden. As a result, this makes it almost impossible for an alien to meet this exception.
Additionally, prior to implementation of this rule the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security are required to "make a generalized determination as to whether the third country grants asylum seekers access to a full and fair procedure." This is a joke. None of these "Safe Third Countries" have the resources to provide a "full and fair procedure."
If an asylum officer determines that an alien is not subject to an Asylum Cooperative Agreement, that the alien falls within an exception to each applicable Asylum Cooperative Agreement, or that the alien would more likely than not be persecuted on account of a protected ground, or tortured in each of the prospective receiving countries, then the alien is eligible to apply for asylum, withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture in the United States. If the alien doesn't meet one of these three requirements then the alien is not eligible to apply for asylum, withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture - this differs greatly from the previous third country asylum rule which still allowed individuals passing through third countries to apply for either withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture.
It is critical to point out that an immigration judge does not have jurisdiction to review an asylum officer's determination of whether this provision applies to a certain alien. Additionally, it is important to note that a federal immigration officer recently told a reporter from Reuters that aliens in this screening process are not allowed access to an attorney.
Finally, it is also important to point out that this new law will not apply to the following individuals: (1) unaccompanied children; (2) migrants with valid U.S. travel documents; (3) cases of public interest; and (4) separation of spouses and families.
This new rule is not surprising and is yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine the asylum laws in the United States and put asylum seekers in harms way be sending them to countries with some of the highest murder rates in the world.
If you are concerned a friend or relative will be placed in this new program, you are welcome to contact Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group and we will be more than happy to provide you with a free consultation regarding this issue.
Many people cannot afford to pay for an immigration attorney to represent them in their case, so for many individuals, their only option is to do it alone. While this is not recommended, it certainly is possible to win your case without an immigration attorney. But before proceeding on your own, you should at least ask an immigration attorney to review your case to explain the steps to you. Louisiana immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group provide consultations free of charge as a service to our community – if you cannot afford our services then at least give us a call and let us take you through the steps and explain the process to you.
You should also consider speaking with legal service providers like Southern Poverty Law Center or Catholic Charities – these non-profit organizations provide pro bono services to immigrants in immigration removal proceedings all over the countries. Some of these organizations don’t just accept everyone that walks through their door, so if they don’t take your case, your only option at that point is to either pay big money for an immigration attorney (often times the cost can exceed $10,000) or go at it alone.
While we hope you choose Liberty Law Group as your legal immigration service provider in Louisiana, we understand this may not be an option for you. As a result, we are providing you with this article so that you will know what to expect at your next immigration hearing.
All immigration proceedings start with service by an ICE officer of a Notice to Appear. A sample Notice to Appear can be found at the following link: https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/resource/Track_I_Sample_NTA.pdf.
Several comments can be made about the notice to appear. First and most importantly, if it is in fact a notice to appear that you have been given, the first page of the document will actually say “Notice to Appear” in bold in the upper right hand corner of the document. If it does not have these words, it is probably some other type of document. The Notice to Appear puts forth in numbered paragraphs the allegations by DHS against you – essentially these are pleadings which tell the immigration judge why you should be deported and sent back to your home country. Before you attend your first immigration court hearing, you should make sure to read each of these allegations very carefully. Very often times these allegations are not disputed and the immigrant will simply admit to each of these allegations at the first hearing. BUT, this may not always be the case. If you believe that any or all of these allegations are in error, then it is your job to deny these allegations at your first master calendar hearing and force the DHS prosecuting attorney to prove the allegations against you.
In addition to citing the factual allegations against you as to why you should be deported from the United States, at the bottom of the Notice to Appear you will find a reference to the legal statute which the government is relying upon to deport you. Understanding this statute and how it relates to your case can often times be the most difficult part of your case, especially if you are a permanent resident being deported as a result of pleading guilty to some crime. Often times immigration attorneys even have a difficult time understanding these removal statues and how they relate to crimes. Inexperienced immigration attorneys often give bad advice on these extremely complicated legal issues.
If you choose to contest DHS’s factual and legal allegations against you, the immigration judge usually decides the matter in one of two ways: (1) they will require the government to prove its case at the very first master calendar hearing; or (2) the immigration judge will set a new court date for what is known as a “contested master calendar hearing.” Often times, immigration judges will choose the second option because most immigration judges in the United States are pro DHS and will give DHS every opportunity possible to prove their case against you. DHS will use this time to gather documents supporting removal such as certified copies of conviction records, I-213s and other legal documents.
It is often difficult to predict exactly how many hearings you will have in immigration court – it is different for everyone. For some of our clients, we might have 5 or 6 total hearings, for other clients it may be as low as two hearings. Generally though, here is a description of the immigration court hearings you will have and what to expect at each hearing;
1. First master calendar hearing – see above. You should show up to court prepared to admit or deny the government’s allegations against you. If you have not had time yet to consult with an immigration attorney prior to your first master calendar hearing, you should ask the judge for one continuance in order to find an attorney. It is fairly standard for an immigration judge to grant a least one continuance and it will most likely be granted if you request it.
2. Second master calendar hearing – This may be a contested master calendar hearing if you deny the government’s allegations. If you admit to the government’s allegations, this will be the hearing where you will submit the application for whatever relief you are eligible for. This is also why it is important to consult with an immigration attorney before your first court date, because it is often difficult to know what relief you might be eligible for if you don’t speak with an attorney. In immigration proceedings, there are a variety of ways to remain in the United States even if the government proves that you should be deported. Here is a non-exclusive list: (1) asylum – you fear returning to your country because you believe you will be persecuted on account of your membership in certain groups; (2) cancellation of removal – you have lived in the United States more than ten years, don’t have any disqualifying convictions, prove that you have good moral character, have a relationship to a US citizen spouse, parent or child and prove that your removal to your country would result in extreme hardship to your US citizen family member; (3) readjustment of status – if you were a green card holder and found removable, under certain limited circumstances you may be eligible to re-apply for your green card by submitting an adjustment of status application along with a waiver for whatever ground of inadmissibility you have; (4) T visa – you were a victim of human trafficking and would like to use the T visa to waive your illegal presence in the United States; (5) U visa – you were the victim of a crime in the United States and would like to use the U visa to waive your illegal presence in the United States; (6) voluntary departure – you do not qualify for any other form of relief and want to make sure that the 5 or 10 year bar for being deported doesn’t prevent you from returning with that period of time so you might be eligible to ask the judge to grant you voluntary departure.
3.Merits hearing: You have already submitted your application and at the second master calendar hearing, the judge selects a date for your merits hearing. This is essentially your trial where you are given the opportunity to present documents and witnesses to support your case. You or your attorney will have an opportunity to ask relevant questions to both yourself and each witness you choose to use, the DHS prosecuting attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine both yourself and any witness you choose to use and the immigration judge also will probably have quite a few questions to ask you.
If the immigration judge denies your case, you will have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia. The Board of Immigration Appeals will either affirm the decision of the immigration judge, overturn the decision and grant the relief you requested or remand the case back to the immigrant judge for further proceedings.
The time between the first and last hearing depends on two primary factors: (1) the location of the hearing; and (2) whether you are in detained or non-detained proceedings. Given the nature of the case and the fact that the immigrant is in detention during the pendency of the case, detained proceedings move must faster than non-detained cases and usually won’t take more than 3-4 months at the most. Non-detained cases can take years given the fact that the immigration court system is seriously backlogged with cases.
If you don’t have the finances to pay for an immigration attorney or if a non-profit organization chooses not to accept your case, if you are determined enough, you certainly can represent yourself in your immigration case, but it will take a LOT of work and preparation in order to give yourself the best possible chance for winning. That said, please call us and let us at least work with you in preparing your case – we can give you the roadmap for success, even if you choose not to ultimately retain us.
The only people safe from deportation are United States citizens. Anyone in any other status is subject to the deportation grounds set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This article will focus specifically on the criminal grounds of deportation.
The criminal grounds of deportation are set forth in 8 U.S.C Section 1227. These criminal grounds are set forth as follows:
The good news is that there are certain defenses you may raise if you are being deported on one of these grounds. Many people may apply for what is referred to as "readjustment of status" in immigration court and ask for a waiver of inadmissibility using form 601. In order to successfully qualify for this waiver, you will have to prove that your removal woud result in extreme hardship to an immediate U.S. citizen parent, spouse or child.
Navigating through criminal grounds of deportability often takes an extremely experienced attorney to determine whether a particular conviction makes you deportable. Fortunately, Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group have the expertise to assist you this and will be happy to provide you a free case analysis in order to determine whether you or a family member are deportable and, if so, whether any waivers might be available for you to remain in the United States.
This is perhaps one of the most common questions immigration attorneys get. Let’s take a look at this question through three different scenarios:
Hypothetical A: Susana is a native of Ecuador. She came to the United States under an F1 student visa when she was 18 years old. After graduating, she decides that she doesn’t want to return to Ecuador, so she remains in the United States after her F1 student visa expires. When she turns 27, she meets Ron, a United States citizen, and they decide to get married – after Susana has been illegal for 5 years.
Hypothetical B: Nathan, a citizen of Mexico, entered the United States when he is 20 years old by crossing the border illegally. When Nathan turned 23, he learned that his father was extremely ill so Nathan decides to return to Mexico to visit him. Nathan spends 3 months in Mexico caring for his father, until he returns to the United States. Nathan eventually meets Sarah, a United States citizen and when Nathan turned 26, they decided to get married.
Hypothetical C: Miguel, a citizen of Peru, entered the United States illegally when he was 21. After having lived in the United States for 19 years, Miguel marries a United States citizen. Miguel’s entry into the United States when he was 21 was his only entry.
Out of the three hypotheticals above, Susana has the easiest path to become a permanent resident since, at the time of her entry, she was both admitted and inspected. For reasons to be discussed later, Nathan has the most difficult pathway.
Let’s first discuss Susana’s case. Susana is eligible for adjustment of status. This means that she can apply for and receive her green card while she is in the United States. Because she is the spouse of a United States citizen, she is immediately eligible to get a green card and doesn’t have to wait in line for years upon years like many United States citizen family members do. The adjustment of status process is fairly straightforward. First, in order to be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
·Be physically present inside the United States; and
·Have made a lawful entry into the United States; and
Lawful entry means that you were admitted or paroled into the U.S. For most people, this means that you entered the U.S. with valid documentation and made face to face contact with a U.S. immigration officer, and that officer acknowledged your entry to the United States. If you entered with a valid visa, but that visa has since expired, you still had a lawful entry.
- have an approved I-130 petition (Family preference applicants must have an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and a visa number must be available. However, there’s an exception for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives may file the adjustment of status application together with the I-130 petition.)
Since Susana meets each of these requirements, she is clearly eligible. She will need to complete the following forms:
In addition to filing these forms, she will need to submit the following documents:
The filing location is easy to find. Just go to USCIS’s website, and it will tell you the filing locations for an adjustment of status application. After filing your adjustment of status application, you will receive a receipt notice about two weeks later informing you that USCIS has received your application. Hold on to this document as it is the only way you have of tracking the status of your case by referring to the receipt number that can be found in the I-797. Approximately 4-6 weeks after filing your application, you will receive another notice from USCIS asking you to attend a biometrics (fingerprint) appointment at your closest USCIS office. This is nothing to be concerned about as it just involves a quick trip to the USCIS office to have your fingerprints taken – nothing else happens on the visit, but make sure to bring government issued identity document with you or else they won’t let you take your fingerprints. Also, make sure not to skip your appointment or else your application will be deemed waived and you will have to start all over and pay the filing fee all over again!!!!
After your biometrics appointment, you should expect a LOOONG delay in your case. Your next appointment probably won’t be scheduled until about ten or eleven months AFTER your initial adjustment of status application is filed. It is taking USCIS approximately 13-14 months to approve these applications from the time they are filed.
Let’s now take a look at Miguel’s hypothetical. Unfortunately, Miguel is not eligible for adjustment of status because he was not inspected and admitted into the United States, meaning he did not enter the United States on a visa. Instead, Miguel must go through an entirely different process. First, Miguel’s wife must first file the I-130 (same form as mentioned above). Once the I-130 is approved, Miguel can ask for a waiver for his unlawful presence in the United States which makes him ineligible for a green card. Anyone who has accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the United States is subject to a three year bar starting from when that person returns to his home country and anyone who has been in the United States illegally for more than one year has a ten year bar from coming to the United States beginning from when that person returns to his home country. The good news is that Miguel can wait for his I-601A waiver to be approved before he returns to his home country to consular process his green card. If the I-601A waiver is approved, the 3 and 10 year bar will not apply to Miguel. Before leaving the United States, Miguel should go ahead and file his I-601A waiver application so that he will know in advance whether his unlawful time in the United States will be waived. Here are the documents Miguel will need to submit to USCIS:
Finally, let’s take a look at the final hypothetical – Nathan’s case. Unfortunately, Nathan is subject to the “permanent bar.” The permanent bar of inadmissibility is found in INA Sec. 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I). It comes into play when the intending immigrant has accrued at least one year of unlawful presence in the United States and then subsequently leaves the United States and attempts to reenter or reenters the United States without inspection. Despite what its name states, there are limited scenarios in which a person may be allowed to waive the permanent bar or seek permission to reenter the United States after 10 years from the date of his or her last entry have elapsed. Basically Nathan must return to Peru and wait for 10 years. Once the ten year period has elapsed, Nathan may then apply for a waiver to reenter the country using the same extreme hardship factors previously discussed herein.
As you can see, there are a lot of issues to navigate when considering whether you are eligible to receive a green card as an illegal immigrant. This blog only considers three limited scenarios. You are strongly advised to seek the services of an experienced immigration lawyer who can help you navigate through this process. Louisiana immigration lawyers and attorneys at Liberty Law Group have the experience and expertise to do just that. Give us a call or send us a text today and let us provide you with a free consultation.
With so many options available to you, finding the right immigration attorney can be a daunting task. There are lots of factors you should consider before making that final decision. Not many people know that there are lots of different areas of immigration law and most attorneys don’t specialize in every area even though their website might lead you to believe they do.
This should go without saying, but absolutely make sure that the person you hire is actually licensed to practice law in the United States. Finding the answer to this question is actually more complicated than it would seem because an attorney can practice immigration law in any of the 50 states as long as they are licensed in at least one of those states. For example, Attorney A may have gotten his law license in California, but is presently practicing immigration law in Texas. This is actually a very common practice. First, inquire as to which state that attorney is licensed in. This information can usually be gleaned by looking at the lawyer’s website. Then, you should log onto the directory for that particular bar association to see if that attorney’s license is current. For example, if you want to know whether a particular individual is licensed in Louisiana, you can Google the term “Louisiana lawyer directory.” The first non-ad search result would lead you to the following link: https://www.lsba.org/Public/MembershipDirectory.aspx. From there, simply type in the name of the person you are considering hiring and the website will let you know if they are licensed or not. DO NOT USE A NOTARIO to help you with your immigration case. Not only is it illegal, but it will also be detrimental to your case. It is actually very common for individuals claim to have lots of immigration experience who can undercut the fees of a licensed attorney – while you may save a dollar or two, in the long run you will pay for it.
Many legal websites can be misleading. Simply because a firm claims immigration law as one of its practice areas doesn’t mean that firm actually practices in that particular field. Here’s a little secret that most firms won’t admit – the vast majority of websites are overinclusive of practice areas, meaning that they list as many areas as possible in order to cast as wide of a net as possible. Where is immigration law in the list of practice areas – among the first practice areas or at the end of the list?
Once you discover that the firm claims immigration law as one of its practice areas, this is only the first inquiry. Then you must ask what kind of experience and how much experience does that firm actually have in immigration law? Is the practice of immigration something that law firm does in addition to other areas, or is immigration law the primary practice of that firm? This is an extremely important question to ask. Be wary of using firms that dabble in the practice of immigration law and don’t specialize in it. As a federal judge once aptly stated, immigration law is “‘second only to the Internal Revenue Code in complexity.’ A lawyer is often the only person who could thread the labyrinth.” If the practice of immigration law is not the primary focus of the firm, you are best served to look elsewhere. The consequences for you and your family are too dire for you to risk making any mistakes.
Going back to the multiple areas of immigration law that exist, here is a list of just some of the areas:
It isn’t that common for an immigration firm to specialize in every area. For example, there are some firms that only do investor visas and nothing else because this field is so highly specialized that it truly takes a well-qualified attorney with lots of experience in investor visas to get the job done. While Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group would be able to assist a client with an investor visa, the honest truth is that you would probably be best served by hiring someone else. For investor visas, the client will often pay an hourly fee and if you hire an attorney that doesn’t specialize in this area you will be paying for them to spend hours researching a topic that an investor visa attorney already know about. There are also very few firms in the entire country that are able to assist with obtaining citizenship for children adopted abroad. In fact, Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group are only aware of one or two firms in the entire country that could assist in this area, which is why we always refer adoption cases out to these firms. Check back in with us in a year or two as we are working on acquiring the requisite knowledge to assist our clients with this, but we aren’t quite there yet. Here is another secret – if you are applying for a humanitarian visa, you can usually find a non-profit organization to assist you for free, depending of course on your annual income. Catholic Charities is a great example of one such organization. If your total annual income is under a certain level and you have a strong case, you can almost guarantee that Catholic Charities will take your case, assuming that you have a clean criminal record.
Before you pay thousands of dollars to an immigration lawyer to take your case, interview them. If they refuse to answer your questions then they probably aren’t the right attorney for you. Here is a list of questions you should consider asking before hiring an immigration lawyer:
It is extremely important not to limit your research to simply having a conversation with the attorney you plan to hire. Found out what others have to say about this person – if possible speak with people who have used this lawyer in the past – this will probably be the best source of information you could possibly get because this immigration attorney’s former clients will have the most honest feedback about their work. While reading Google or Avvo reviews is helpful, only make that a part of your overall research. Also, consider checking to see if the attorney is a member of his local chamber of commerce. For example, see the following link. It is also helpful to see if other attorneys have positive things to say about the attorney you are looking to hire: for example - see link.
It’s your life – finding the right immigration attorney might possibly be the most important decision you ever make. Think of the following example. Bill, a United States citizen, marries Katrina, a citizen of Mexico. Unfortunately for both Bill and Katrina, Katrina illegally entered the United States when she was a child and does not have any legal status. An inexperienced attorney might tell Katrina she can get her green card without leaving the United States and without seeking any waivers. This attorney would be wrong – since Katrina crossed the border illegally she isn’t eligible to adjust status in the United States. Let’s take this hypothetical one step further, let’s assume that when Katrina was 23 she had already been living in the U.S. illegally for 10 years, but wanted to return to Mexico for a brief visit. Unfortunately for Katrina, since she was illegally present in the U.S. for more than a year, left the country and then returned again, this trip would have triggered the “permanent bar,” meaning that Katrina couldn’t apply for a green card and seek a waiver for her unlawful presence until she first returns to Mexico and waits for ten years. Even an attorney who practices immigration law as a regular part of their practice might not know this rule and without asking the right questions to the client from the beginning, the attorney might not even believe this to be an issue.
Now that we have taken you through the issues you should consider before hiring an immigration attorney, let’s talk about why you should hire us. First and foremost, we might not be the very best attorney for you – if you have an issue with international adoption then we will have to send you to someone else. However, if you or a loved one have a case in immigration court or you or a loved one are detained at one of many immigration detention centers across the south then you have come to the right place. Our firm specializes in cases in immigration court. We have spent countless hours meeting with clients in these detention centers. We also make it a priority to appear in court in person with our clients. If an immigration judge is face to face with an attorney versus speaking with an attorney over the phone, common sense dictates that the judge is much more likely to grant the detainee’s request if the attorney appears in person because then the judge will know that the attorney who appears in person is serious about their client’s case. Not only do we appear in person, but we are available pretty much 24/7 and your call goes directly to an attorney – we don’t have staff to screen the calls before they come in. When you dial (318) 528-0700 that call goes directly to my cell phone and I will either answer the phone immediately or return your call soon thereafter. I might even send you a text message as text messages are the best means of getting a hold of me, but be ready to receive text messages at night as this is often when I am working on your case. I can also guarantee that I will give you a free consultation and will be honest about the potential outcome of your case – I have lost thousands upon thousands of dollars over the years because if I don’t believe that you have a strong case, I will inform you of this before you pay any fees. You will also know what your fees are up front as my fees are almost always flat fees so that the client and attorney both know in advance the cost involved. Ultimately, its your life. If you don’t choose to hire attorneys at Liberty Law Group, then just find the best attorney that works for you. So if you are looking for a qualified immigration attorney with an immense amount of experience, who speaks multiple languages and even used to be an immigration professor, you have come to the right place.
If you live in Alexandria, Louisiana and have a general civil matter, contact Tommy Davenport at the following website: https://www.davenportfirm.com/. For a listing of some of the top lawyers in America, click here
Immigration lawyers in Louisiana at Liberty Law Group have the experience and expertise to assist with any immigration matter you may be facing. We are a part of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and can provide you with a free consultation. Call us today.
Situated about 15 miles outside of the small town of Winnfield, Louisiana lies the Winn Correctional Center - DHS’s newest and latest detention facility in Louisiana. Actually, this facility does not belong to DHS at all, but rather the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Just a few short months ago this facility housed approximately one thousand six hundred state inmates but ever since the United States Department of Homeland Security entered into a contract with the state of Louisiana for immigrant detainees to be housed at this facility, the Louisiana Department of Corrections has quickly moved these 1,600 inmates to other facilities across the state of Louisiana and replaced each and every one of them with DHS immigrant detainees. As of the time this article was published, the facility has almost maxed out its capacity with immigrant detainees.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (the immigration court system) has seriously undermined the due process rights of immigrants detained at this facility by holding many immigrants at this facility for months at a time before they are even scheduled to appear for their very first master calendar hearing. For example, Louisiana immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group have had one client housed at the Winn Correctional Center for approximately four months before their client was required to appear for his very first master calendar hearing. This particular individual is expected to remain at the Winn Correctional Center for at least another two months before a federal immigration judge will have an opportunity to hear the merits of his asylum claim.
In addition to the length of time these individuals have to wait for their first hearing, the manner in which these hearings are conducted also seriously undermines these individuals’ due process rights. You see, not one of these immigrants will ever get to personally sit in front of an immigration judge or government ICE attorney to plead their case as the immigration judges are located almost 1,000 miles away in Chaparral, New Mexico and the government prosecutors are located in El Paso, Texas. This requires the immigration judge to make credibility determinations via video telephone conference – an impossible task.
These days due process is not high on DHS’s priority list. It’s all about efficiency and sending as many asylum seekers home as quickly as possible while pretending to uphold the rule of law. Even though many of the individuals housed at this facility are eligible for bond, the vast majority of bond applications will be categorically denied because the immigration judges will simply deem these individuals as a “flight risk” if they are released, irrespective of whether the judge could issue a bond high enough to force these individuals to appear for all scheduled immigration hearings.
You can’t really blame the state of Louisiana for signing up for this. After all, they are making approximately $49 more per day, per individual than they were making with DOC inmates. This figure adds up to a whopping $28,616,000 per year. With the state of Louisiana always having serious deficit issues within its own government, it only makes sense for it to do everything it can to bring more money into the fold, but it does so at the expense of each and every one of the immigrant detainees housed at the Winn Correctional Center.
Another issue effecting the due process rights of these immigrant detainees is the simple fact that there are very few immigration attorneys within the area to assist them. Attorneys at Liberty Law Group and a handful of other individuals have offices in Alexandria, Louisiana, but even that still requires a drive of an hour and fifteen minutes to reach this facility. Even though the immigration judges usually allow for attorney appearance by telephone conference, this only further undermines the process as it is very difficult for an attorney to give his client 100% commitment if the attorney appears for the hearing by telephone.
Sadly, there are many problems but very few answers. With so many individuals trying to enter the country to apply for asylum, the government almost has no choice to but to set up an inefficiently run immigration court system like the one in the Winn Correctional Center. A first step would be for the immigration judges across the country to start treating individuals housed at facilities like this one as people and not simply as people to be process on a factory production line.
So many asylum seekers who enter the country and get placed in these facilities have an amazing story to tell – a beautiful but sad journey that most often has a tragic ending. If we can find it within ourselves to listen to their stories and understand where they are coming from and what they are running from, maybe…just maybe we can regain the humanity that our nation lost years ago.
Christopher Kinnison, the author of this article, is the owner of Liberty Law Group, LLC – a Louisiana full service immigration firm that specializes in handling detained cases at detention centers all throughout the state of Louisiana, including the ICE detention center at the Winn Correctional Center.
Louisiana immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group are starting to get a lot more calls from clients who have failed their credible fear interviews. Often times, by the time we are contacted by a potential client, it is often too late to provide any meaningful assistance.
The first question is – who is given credible fear interviews? Individuals who are placed in expedited removal proceedings are given credible fear interviews. Individuals are placed in expedited removal proceedings when they enter at a port of entry or are caught within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entry. If you fall into any of these two categories, before placing you in expedited removal proceedings, an asylum officer with USCIS will give you a credible fear interview. This means that you will be able to apply for asylum before an immigration judge if an asylum officer believes that you have a credible fear of persecution. You will pass your credible fear interview if you establish that there is a “significant possibility” that you could establish in a full hearing before an Immigration Judge that you have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution or harm on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if returned to your country.”
You will have about 10 minutes to present your entire case before an asylum officer. During these ten minutes, you must explain in extreme detail all of the times you have been persecuted in the past, why are were persecuted and why you fear persecution if you return to your home country. It is helpful to bring as many documents with you as possible to help support your case even at this stage in the process. While an asylum officer doesn’t typically review any documents at this stage in the immigration proceedings, it would be very helpful to offer any supporting documents to the asylum officer for them to review before making a decision on your case.
If the interview is being conducted in a language that you are not completely comfortable with then you are strongly encouraged to request a different interpreter. Also, once the credible fear interview is over, you will be given a transcript of the interview. If you failed the interview but believe the transcript does not accurately convey your story, you should ask for a second interview.
So, how can you best assure that you will pass your credible fear interview? Prepare your story in advance. Make sure you can accurately and specifically identify each and every time you have been persecuted in the past. Identify who the perpetrators are, how many perpetrators there were, the dates the attack occurred, whether you filed a police report after the attack, whether you visited a hospital or medical clinic after the attack. The more specific you can be, the greater chance you will give yourself of passing your credible fear interview. Make sure to let your asylum officer know that you have supporting documents which proves that you are telling the truth, whether those documents are newspaper reports, medical records, police reports, death certificates, birth certificates or any other type of supporting documents.
Not only must you be able to accurately tell your story but you must also that you have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution or harm on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion if returned to your country.” For example, if your persecution or fear of persecution is simply because you are afraid of general violence in your country, the asylum officer might believe your story but you will still fail your interview because you were not able to demonstrate that your persecution was on account of your affiliation with one of these groups.
Louisiana immigration attorneys at Liberty Law Group have years of experience working with asylum cases and can help you prepare for your credible fear interview. You are strongly encouraged to retain an attorney to help prepare you for your interview. It can make all of the difference in the world. You can also request that your attorney be present with you during your interview. This is also important because if your attorney will already know your story before your interview even starts and will be able to ask you the right questions in order to give you the very best possible chance to pass your interview.
What happens if you fail your interview? Fortunately, if you fail your interview, it is not over. You can ask that an immigration judge review the decision of the asylum officer. Unfortunately, the regulations state that if the immigration judge affirms the decision of the asylum officer, the decision is final and cannot be appealed. This is why it is so important to fully prepare before your first interview with the asylum officer, because over 90% of the decisions of the asylum officers are ultimately affirmed by the immigration judge and your chance of winning on appeal with the immigration judge is very low. Additionally, during the appeal process the judge is not required to allow your attorney to be present with you. If your attorney is allowed to be present, your attorney will not be allowed to ask any questions or speak, which makes it almost meaningless to have an attorney at all. Your immigration attorney will be able to help you much more if you retain him before your first interview then after you fail your first interview.
So to conclude, how do you pass your credible fear interview? Prepare well in advance, know the law, and seek the help of an attorney.
Cómo pasar su entrevista de miedo creíble
Los abogados de inmigración de Louisiana en Liberty Law Group están empezando a recibir muchas más llamadas de clientes que han fallado en sus entrevistas de miedo creíbles. A menudo,en el momento enque nos contacta un cliente potencial, a menudo es demasiado tarde para proporcionar cualquier asistencia significativa.
La primera pregunta es: ¿a quién se le dan entrevistas de miedo creíbles? Las personas que son colocadas en procedimientos de expulsión expedita reciben entrevistas de miedo creíbles. Las personas son colocadas en procedimientos de expulsión expedita cuando entran en un puerto de entrada o son capturadas dentro de 100 millas de la frontera y dentro de los 14 días de la entrada. Si usted cae en cualquiera de estas dos categorías, antes de ponerlo en procedimientos de expulsión expedita, un oficial de asilo con USCIS le dará una entrevista de miedo creíble. Esto significa que usted será capaz de solicitar asilo ante un juez de inmigración si un oficial de asilo cree que usted tiene un miedo creíble a la persecución. Pasará su entrevista de miedo creíble si establece que hay una "posibilidad significativa" que podría establecer en una audiencia completa ante un Juez de Inmigración que usted ha sido perseguido o ha tener un temor fundado a la persecución o daño debido a su raza, religión, nacionalidad, pertenencia a un grupo social en particular, u opinión política si es devuelto a su país. "
Tendrá unos 10 minutos para presentar todo su caso ante un oficial de asilo. Durante estos diez minutos, debe explicar con extrema detalle todas las veces que ha sido perseguido en el pasado, por qué fueron perseguidos y por qué teme la persecución si regresa a su país de origen. Es útil llevar tantos documentos con usted como sea posible para ayudar a apoyar su caso incluso en esta etapa del proceso. Mientras que un oficial de asilo no suele revisar ningún documento en esta etapa en el proceso de inmigración, sería muy útil ofrecer cualquier documento de apoyo al oficial de asilo para que los revise antes de tomar una decisión sobre su caso.
Si la entrevista se está llevando a cabo en un idioma con el que no se siente completamente cómodo, se le recomienda encarecidamente que solicite un intérprete diferente. Además, una vez que la entrevista de miedo creíble haya terminado, se le dará una transcripción de la entrevista. Si usted falló la entrevista pero cree que la transcripción no transmite con precisión su historia, usted debe pedir una segunda entrevista.
Entonces, ¿cómo puedes asegurar mejor que pasarás tu entrevista de miedo creíble? Prepare su historia con anticipación. Asegúrese de que puede identificar con precisión y específicamente cada vez que ha sido perseguido en el pasado. Identifique quiénes son los autores, cuántos perpetradores hubo, las fechas en que ocurrió el ataque, si presentó un informe policial después del ataque, si visitó un hospital o una clínica médica después del ataque. Cuanto más específico seas, más posibilidades tendrás de aprobar tu entrevista de miedo creíble. Asegúrese de que su oficial de asilo sepa que tiene documentos de apoyo que demuestran que está diciendo la verdad, si esos documentos son informes de periódicos, registros médicos, informes policiales, certificados de defunción, certificados de nacimiento o cualquier otro tipo de documentos de apoyo.
No sólo debe ser capaz de contar con precisión su historia, sino que también debe ser perseguido o tiene un temor fundado a la persecución o daño debido a su raza, religión, nacionalidad, pertenencia a un particular grupo social, o opinión política si es devuelto a su país. "Por ejemplo, si su persecución o miedo a la persecución es simplemente porque tiene miedo de la violencia general en su país, el oficial de asilo podría creer su historia, pero usted todavía fallará su entrevista porque no fue capaz de demostrar que su persecución fue debido a su afiliación con uno de estos grupos.
Los abogados de inmigración de Louisiana en Liberty Law Group tienen años de experiencia trabajando con casos de asilo y pueden ayudarlo a prepararse para su entrevista de miedo creíble. Se le recomienda encarecidamente que retenga un abogado para ayudarle a prepararse para su entrevista. Puede marcar la diferencia en el mundo. También puede solicitar que su abogado esté presente con usted durante su entrevista. Esto también es importante porque si su abogado ya sabrá su historia antes de que comience su entrevista y será capaz de hacerle las preguntas correctas con el fin de darle la mejor oportunidad posible de pasar su entrevista.
¿Qué pasa si fallas en tu entrevista? Afortunadamente, si fallas en tu entrevista, no se acabó. Puede pedir que un juez de inmigración revise la decisión del oficial de asilo. Desafortunadamente, las regulaciones establecen que si el juez de inmigración confirma la decisión del oficial de asilo, la decisión es definitiva y no puede ser apelada. Es por eso que es tan importante prepararse completamente antes de su primera entrevista con el oficial de asilo, porque más del 90% de las decisiones de los oficiales de asilo son en última instancia afirmadas por el juez de inmigración y su oportunidad de ganar en apelación con el juez de inmigración es muy bajo. Además, durante el proceso de apelación, el juez no está obligado a permitir que su abogado esté presente con usted. Si a su abogado se le permite estar presente, su abogado no podrá hacer ninguna pregunta o hablar, lo que hace que sea casi sin sentido tener un abogado en absoluto. Su abogado de inmigración será capaz de ayudarle mucho más si lo retiene antes de su primera entrevista, después de que falle su primera entrevista.
Para concluir, ¿cómo pasas tu entrevista de miedo creíble? Prepárese con bastante anticipación, conozca la ley y busque la ayuda de un abogado.
Chris lives in Alexandria, Louisiana where he enjoys playing with his girls and being the best husband he can possibly be.