Friday, September 27, 2013

San Bernardino County Sheriff to Partner with ICE in Immigration Enforcement

September 27, 2013 - According to an article in the Press Enterprise, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved, without debate, a controversial program wherein the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department will receive training in immigration enforcement from the US Immigration and Custom's Enforcement agency, commonly known as ICE. Under ICE's 287(g) program, state and local law enforcement enter into a partnership with ICE under a joint memorandum of agreement and receive delegated authority from the federal government for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.

San Bernardino County is one of only 35 or so law enforcement agencies nationwide that participate in the program. Sheriff's Deputies will receive training on how to determine whether any of their inmates are in the US illegally. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department already participates in ICE's "Secure Communities" program, which screens the fingerprints of all incoming inmates through a federal immigration database. However, those who recently entered the country illegally or who have had no prior contact with law enforcement, would not show up in the Secure Communities database. Hence, 287(g) proponents advocate its use as another tool in apprehending those who are in the country illegally.

Already, nine San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department employees have received ICE training on conducting immigration interviews with potential immigration violators who enter the county jail system. Opponents of the program say that the 287(g) program unfairly singles out Hispanics for extra scrutiny and makes no distinction between lower level crimes and felonies. Opponents also state that programs such as these diminish the community's trust in law enforcement, especially when they see local law enforcement collaborate with ICE.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department, whose agreement with ICE ended July 22, has yet to make a decision on whether to enter a new 287(g) agreement with ICE, and as such, has stopped conducting immigration interviews at their jails.

In the world of removal (deportation) defense, convictions for certain crimes can carry severe immigration consequences, with many crimes making one removable (deportable). It is therefore essential to consult with an immigration attorney the moment you or a loved one are arrested for most any crime. For example, a simple plea down to battery can avoid the deportation consequences associated with domestic violence, a removable offense per INA 237(a)(2)(E)(i). Only an Orange County immigration attorney who has the experience and familiarity with the immigration consequences of state criminal law should be trusted to handle a criminal matter for those aliens, documented or undocumented, given the extreme outcomes of certain convictions.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or is in immigration proceedings, contact an Orange County Immigration Lawyer at 949-440-3240 to speak with a licensed attorney about your immigration or criminal matter.

To read the Press Enterprise article, click on the link below.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


September 14, 2013: The California legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would allow almost two million undocumented immigrants to receive their drivers licenses. Governor Jerry Brown late Thursday has indicated he would sign the bill into law. By passing this law, California becomes joins only a handful of states, 10 currently, that issue drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. The new licenses will have special features that distinguish these licenses from others. Among the new features will be recognizable wording indicating that the ID is for "driving privileges" and not a traditional license. Also included will be a notice stating "this card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits." Critics of the new features have warned it could lead to discrimination and spur an increase in deportation. While that remains to be seen, the new law has led many vocal critics of immigration reform to cry that the new law is akin to "quasi amnesty". Proponents of the bill, while somewhat dismayed by the new security features, are nevertheless pleased that undocumented immigrants will no longer drive in fear of having their cars impounded upon a traffic stop and believe it will lead to a higher level of cooperation now between those here unlawfully and law enforcement personnel. Keep in mind, this license will only be issued upon successful completion of a written and driving test.

While a victory for immigration reform activists, this new law could have the unintended consequence of increasing deportations. If you or someone you know is in deportation proceedings, contact an Orange County Immigration Lawyer to see if relief from deportation is available to you. Call 949-440-3240 to speak to an immigration attorney.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DUIs and Immigration

September 11, 2013: DUIs (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs) are perhaps the nation's most common criminal offense. Many people from all walks of life - rich, poor, educated, young, old, Hispanic, Asian, you name it - have been convicted of DUIs. It's no wonder then that aspiring immigrants, or those already in the United States as nonimmigrants, undocumented, or lawful permanent residents ("Green Card" holders), are routinely faced with having to deal with DUIs in an immigration law context. So this week's post will focus on this how DUIs impact one's immigration status or application for immigration benefits.

DUIs, at least in the world of immigration law and according to the Board of Immigration Appeals and various federal appellate courts, are not "crimes involving moral turpitude" (also known as "CIMT's" and is defined as "conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or society in general. See Matter of Franklin, 20 I&N Dec. 867, 868 (BIA 1994)." Fraud, theft, embezzlement, forgery are typical CIMTs. Further, simple DUIs (no injury or death to others) are not aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. And numbers don't matter either, whether it's a1st, 2nd, or 3rd DUI, so long as the maximum sentence and time served for the DUI does not exceed one year, then the DUI will not be considered an aggravated felony (perhaps the harshest classification of a crime for immigration purposes, and one in which there is very limited form of relief from deportation).

So if a DUI is not a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony in an immigration context, what impact does it have? Well, the Obama Administration's "Deferred Action of Early Childhood Arrivals" or "DACA" program, wherein if a person came to the US before age 16 (either lawfully or unlawfully) and then graduates high school and has lived in the US for the previous 5 years (among other things), specifically states that applicants who have 3 or more misdemeanors, a felony, or a "significant misdemeanor" will not be eligible for the program. And unfortunately, a DUI is considered a "significant misdemeanor" for the DACA program, which provides undocumented immigrants a "stay of deportation".

A second area of concern for immigrants who have DUIs is a closely related crime to DUIs. In California, this crime is VC14601.2(a). 14601.2(a) is "Driving When Privilege Suspended or Revoked for Driving Under the Influence, With Excessive Blood Alcohol, or When Addicted". It is routinely found for repeat DUI offenders who choose to drive knowing that their license is currently suspended or revoked and the reason for the license suspension or revocation is because of a prior DUI offense. What makes 14601.2(a) special is that in a 2009 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, that court held that when DUI offenses are committed with the knowledge that one's drivers license has been suspended or otherwise restricted, that crime is a crime involving moral turpitude. See Marmolejo-Campos v. Holder, 558 F.3d. 903, 909-12 (9th Cir. 2009). And one need only look to sections 212 and 237 of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) to see that one CIMT makes a person inadmissible (not allowed into the country), and either one CIMT where the sentence imposed is > one year within 5 years of admission or two CIMTs at any time after entering the US, makes a person deportable. Suffice to say, CIMTs are very serious offenses for immigration purposes.

As criminal defense and immigration are so intertwined, this office routinely handles both Orange County DUI offenses and, of course, immigration matters. If you or a loved one is being charged with a DUI, especially immigrants who are repeat DUI offenders and those immigrants who drove on suspended licenses and got charged with a DUI, it is imperative that you speak to an Orange County DUI Attorney, one who has a vast knowledge of immigration law, to prevent you from having a crime involving moral turpitude appear on your record and possible subject you to exclusion and/or deportation. If you need to speak about DUIs, or another immigration matter, visit Orange County Immigration Lawyer Kapesh Patel's website at or call 949-440-3240.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Immigration Reform Talks Stalled by Syria Intervention Debate

September 4, 2013: Comprehensive immigration reform talks came to somewhat of a standstill amid talks of missile strikes and intervention in Syria. August was a busy month for advocates of immigration reform with ads and town hall meetings occurring nationwide. But as Congress prepares to end their summer recess, the hot debate in Washington is whether the United States should launch cruise missiles against the Syrian regime, led by Bashar Al Assad, in response to the purported use of chemical weapons. With committee meetings taking place in both the House and Senate, talk of immigration reform has come to a near halt. Adding to the quandary, Congress will also engage in fierce debate over  the budget and certain provisions allocated to fund the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as "Obamacare".

So what does this mean for comprehensive immigration reform? Well a delay is obvious. What some pundits thought might be a Thanksgiving passage of some type of reform, is now looking like December or even early 2014. Immigration reform activists are likely scratching their heads over Syria, after an arguably successful August in which more Republican house members indicated their support for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that the Syrian crisis, if mismanaged or if an attack leads to wider regional implications, could have the effect of derailing immigration reform, which (August aside) was facing an already uphill battle from House Republicans accusing the bill of providing "amnesty to illegals".

So as has been said here many times before, do not rely on any expectations of there being comprehensive (or even piecemeal) immigration reform. If you are facing an immigration matter that involves waivers of inadmissibility, deportation or removal, or are willing to sponsor loved ones (remember, the Senate bill eliminates the "brother/sister category" for green cards) who wish to immigrate to the United States, an Orange County Immigration Attorney can provide you with the best possible assistance to see that your immigration case sees a successful resolution. To learn more about immigration matters, visit or call 949-440-3240.