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Lancaster Immigration Law Blog

DACA recipient distraught as her parents face deportation

Many Pennsylvania households include family members who came to the U.S. from other countries of origin. Sometimes, family members live in separate homes from their relatives, within the same community. If legal status problems arise regarding deportation, it can be devastating for entire families and communities.

recent case has been making headline news, concerning a 26-year-old woman who resides in the U.S. under protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She was traveling with her 5-year-old daughter when she was pulled over in a traffic stop. The situation led to her detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. She and her child were later released.

Are immigration detention issues causing stress in your family?

When you arrived in Pennsylvania as an immigrant, you assumed there might be challenges ahead as you slowly became integrated with your new surroundings. However, you had high hopes because raising your family in the United States has been a long-time dream of yours and it was finally coming to fruition. Perhaps you're one of many immigrants whose ultimate goals include applying for U.S. citizenship. Avoiding immigration detention and other deportation-related issues may also be a high priority.

Any number of issues can arise that make your adjustment period stressful. You may still be struggling to speak, read, write and/or understand English. Perhaps you're learning a new job at the same time you are trying to settle into a new home and become acquainted with neighbors. These are all comparatively minor issues that you will likely overcome in time. However, if an immigration detention problem arises, finding a solution may prove much more difficult.

Lawsuit seeks to end immigration detention arrests at courthouses

There are any number of reasons that a Pennsylvania immigrant might visit a courthouse. Many such reasons might include official immigration proceedings, while others might simply involve someone who happens to be an immigrant attending a court hearing to support a friend or loved one. Regardless of what prompts a courthouse visit, prosecutors in another state are fighting for an end of immigration detention arrests that have been frequently occurring at such locations.

Many public defenders (some of whom have joined the prosecutors in their lawsuit) say they are having a tough time getting their clients to come to court as necessary because they fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will show up and take them into custody. The lawsuit amounts to a legal battle between state and federal officials and is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The lawsuit was filed just days after a judge and a court officer were charged with obstructing justice.

Those facing deportation in another state glad about new law

Pennsylvania readers who regularly follow immigration news likely know how complex immigration laws are in the United States, as well as how often they change. It is challenging for those who have emigrated from other countries of origin to stay updated on such laws to make sure their legal statuses are not at risk. Although all immigration law is governed at the federal level, state lawmakers in another state have made changes to its criminal laws that may have significant impact on the immigrant population regarding deportation.

In the past, those who were convicted of misdemeanors that called for a possible 365-day jail sentence were automatically subject to deportation proceedings. The new law is called the "One Day Act" and has changed the maximum sentencing time to 364 days for Class A misdemeanors, meaning removal proceedings are no longer automatically activated.  Immigrant advocates say this may help 9,000 immigrants remain in the United States every year.

The citizenship process: Things to know in order to prepare

Arriving in Pennsylvania after emigrating from another country can be both exciting and stressful. If navigating the citizenship process is part of your ultimate plan, you will be going through extensive preparation. The more you know about what to expect and, also, where to seek legal support, if needed, the better able you might be to accomplish your immigration goals.

Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen involves a lot more than filling out an application. That is merely a first step in a long series of events that will, at some point, include an official interview and several tests. Anyone planning on pursuing citizenship will want to first become fluent in reading, writing and speaking English.

Asylum may get harder if international immigration offices close

Individuals who are seeking refugee status and other forms of immigration help might soon experience fewer options and longer wait times. The United States government recently announced that it is considering closing dozens of its international U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. For those seeking asylum or hoping to make Pennsylvania their home through immigration, this could seriously complicate matters.

International USCIS offices help relieve pressure on U.S.-based offices and also provide much-needed services abroad. Despite this, the government wants to close these international offices in order to save money in its budget. The projected closures could potentially save millions of dollars every year.

Employment immigration: What are the best jobs for immigrants?

In Pennsylvania and throughout the country, approximately 17 percent of the workforce is comprised of immigrants. Any worker, immigrant or not, typically encounters challenges when starting a new job. Immigrants, however, might struggle with certain employment immigration issues that non-immigrants don't usually have to worry about, such as language barriers. Many also have to endure a lengthy application process to gain entry to the United States to begin their new careers.

There are numerous jobs that often appeal to immigrants. Many choose to pursue the business industry as a means of seeking employment. However, it is best to learn to speak English fluently when considering this path.

Woman at custody hearing winds up in immigration detention

Many Pennsylvania residents are currently trying to resolve child custody issues with former spouses. Some of them may also happen to be immigrants. Sometimes, family law and U.S. immigration issues intersect, as reportedly happened a woman who lives in another state. She went from a courthouse to an immigration detention center in a matter of hours.

She and her ex husband disagree about where their 14-year-old daughter should go to school. The mother thinks it is best if her daughter continues going to school in the state where she currently goes to school. Her father, who recently relocated, wants the court to rule that his daughter should go to school in his new resident state. The mother recently attended a hearing regarding the matter and was shocked when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers showed up and placed her under arrest.

Where to seek support when facing deportation dilemmas

Many Pennsylvania families are currently facing emotionally trying and legally challenging situations involving immigrant family members. Those facing deportation issues often feel overwhelmed and unsure where to turn for support as they try to figure out a way to help a spouse, parent or other loved one who has either been taken into custody or received written notice of a removal threat, personally or by mail. The good news is that there are often options available to challenge removal proceedings.

A main priority of experienced immigrant advocates is to help those facing deportation to minimize detention consequences and secure release of those taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. If you or your family member has already received a written Notice to Appear, then it's likely that removal proceedings have already been activated. You have the right to examine evidence and to file an appeal in a federal court.

U.S. citizen was locked up in immigration detention

Pennsylvania immigrants often encounter various challenges as they adapt to new lifestyles after emigrating from their countries of origin. In fact, sometimes, someone has been living and working in the United States for months (or even years) when a sudden legal problem regarding his or her status arises. It's stressful when such incidents occur. A recent situation was particularly egregious because the person who was locked up in an immigration detention center was a U.S. citizen and reportedly had the identification to prove it when he was taken into custody.

The young man not only is a citizen, born and raised in the U.S., he is a military veteran who served with the marine corps in Afghanistan. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. His family says that there have been numerous occasions where he has disappeared and had no idea where he'd been or what he'd done when he was located.

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