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Lancaster Immigration Law Blog

Many Pennsylvania immigrants thingking about citizenship process

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a main goal of many Pennsylvania immigrants. No two life stories are exactly the same, and different people encounter various types of challenges as they navigate the citizenship process. For some, a language barrier poses great difficulty, causing them to worry that they will not be able to pass their citizenship test.

There are several things a person must do when applying for citizenship. Filling out an application is just one of those things. However, before a particular person can apply, he or she must be a green card holder for at least five years. Any attempt to falsify documents or otherwise thwart the system is punishable by law and may place an immigrant at immediate risk for deportation.

Attention: Pennsylvania families facing asylum problems

It's no secret that debates continue throughout the United States regarding U.S. immigration laws. These laws are complex and often change, leaving many Pennsylvania immigrants and their families frustrated, confused and worried that they may suffer negative consequences due to legal status problems. Family separations at U.S. borders has been a top issue in news headlines as of late. Some parents have understandably said they'd rather give up their requests for asylum than be kept from the children. 

President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order that states that parents seeking asylum at U.S. borders are no longer subject to being housed in immigration detention centers apart from their children. The problem, however, is that there are already more than 2,000 children being held in immigration facilities throughout the nation without their parents. A civil rights attorney recently spoke to reporters, saying it is morally wrong that parents should have to consider giving up their asylum cases in the hope of expediting the process of being reunited with their children.  

Worker in another state facing immigration detention problems

Many working fathers in Pennsylvania are immigrants who came to the United States from other countries of origin. Some, like one man who works as a pizza deliveryman in another state, married U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, even going through the process to obtain green cards does not always prevent immigration detention problems from occurring as made evident by the pizza shop worker's situation.  

The man lives with his wife and two daughters, all of whom are U.S. citizens. He was recently delivering pizza to a local military base as he has apparently done many times in the past. In fact, he says he went through the same process he always does, including showing his ID at the gate; however, this time, instead of being allowed to carry out his duties as usual, Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents were summoned. They took him into custody and requested his immediate removal.  

Some say they'd rather die than face immigration detention

Many Pennsylvania households include residents who emigrated from other countries of origin. Such journeys often include significant challenges, especially if an immigrant's paperwork is not in order. In fact, thousands of people are apprehended at various U.S. border stations, and then placed in immigration detention centers while they await final decisions regarding their requests to enter the United States.

Sadly, the conditions in many detention facilities are said to be dangerous to the physical health and well-being of their inhabitants. One woman said that she and all those being held in detention with her have thought on occasion that suicide would be better than enduring more time in detention. Protests from detainees have often carried serious repercussions.

Possible ways to avoid deportation

It's understandable that an immigrant and his or her family would feel intimidated if immigration officials take the individual into custody for a removal investigation.  Any number of immigration issues can result in deportation proceedings. Those facing these issues in Pennsylvania typically benefit by seeking the help of an attorney experienced in this complicated area of the law.

Although it's difficult to stay calm in such circumstances, those facing such problems can remain hopeful because there are often several options available for seeking relief. It's critical that a detained immigrant be well aware of his or her rights and also where to seek support to increase the chances of obtaining a positive outcome. Ultimate discretion to decide a deportation case lies with the immigration judge.  

Things to know about family-based immigration in the U.S.

Trying to cover all the necessary legal bases to move your family from a foreign country to Pennsylvania or some other state in the U.S. to live can be one of the most exasperating, challenging experiences of a lifetime. The more you know about family-based immigration laws, as well as your own rights, the better. It can also be very helpful to have an immigrant advocate by your side throughout the process.  

While some people consider every person in their extended relative line as close family members, when it comes to family immigration laws, only select relationships qualify. It's critical that you understand the difference between family preference petitions and immediate family member petitions when planning to apply for a family-based immigration status. If you happen to be serving as a sponsor for someone coming to the U.S., it's also important to seek clarification on your personal obligations, such as agreeing to provide your family member with a means of financial support.  

Immigration detention situation topping news headlines

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a petition requesting the immediate release of a news journalist who was recently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The reporter, who happens to be an immigrant, was arrested at an earlier time, then released when charges were dropped. Such situations typically call for setting a defendant free; however, jail officials instead transferred this particular man over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who then locked him up in an immigration detention facility. Pennsylvania residents facing similar problems may want to follow this case. 

The detainee has never been arrested for a felony, which would generally be cause for detainment and possible deportation. He did, however, recently run stories in his newspaper regarding alleged unfair practices by ICE officials against various immigrants. Some say the man's boldness in reporting such things has ruffled the feathers of authorities, thus prompting his detention.  

Many pregnant women facing immigration detention are worried

In the past three months, more than 500 pregnant women have been processed through the deportation system. In the past, it has been the custom of ICE to release detainees who are pregnant as they await their removal hearings. A new immigration detention policy appears to have recently take hold, however, which may cause pregnant women in Pennsylvania and elsewhere who are are undocumented to worry.

Immigrant advocates recently expressed their anger over policy changes that no longer allow ICE officials to release pregnant detainees. Those in their third trimester are exempt from the new policy as they are not allowed to board airplanes, so they will continue to be released to await their deportation hearings. An ICE spokesperson said all others will have their cases reviewed on individual bases, and pregnancy will be considered as a special factor in each case where it applies.

Are you a Pennsylvania resident facing deportation?

Any number of issues can arise to cause legal problems for those who emigrated from other countries of origin to live in Pennsylvania. If you happen to overstay your visa or have been charged with a traffic violation or criminal offense, your plans to build a new, successful lifestyle may be temporarily or permanently put on hold. Facing deportation can be stressful and frightening.

There are often several options available to halt a removal process. If you've been served with a Notice to Appear, you have every right to retain legal assistance to help you plead your case, present evidence or appeal the Immigration Court's decision to a higher court. If you or your immediate family member have already been detained, an experienced immigration and naturalization law attorney can advocate on your behalf to try to secure a release.

Asylum situation gone wrong: Mother and daughter separated

Pennsylvania residents who have navigated the immigration process in the United States understand how challenging such situations can be. Many have been able to reach out for support as they become productive members of society in their new homelands. Others, however, have arrived at the border, fleeing imminent danger and violence, seeking asylum and hoping the U.S. government will protect them.

One such person fled to the United States alongside her 7-year-old daughter. She says they ran away from the Democratic Republic of Congo in fear for their lives. The woman assumed that all she had to do was explain to officials why she and her daughter had come, and the appropriate authorities would help keep her and her child safe.

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Law Office of Troy J. Mattes, P.C.
132 East Chestnut Street
Lancaster, PA 17602

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