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Texas Immigration And Criminal Defense Law Blog

Supreme Court strikes down vague definition in deportation law

"Vague laws," writes Justice Neil Gorsuch, "invite arbitrary power."

His words came in a concurring opinion in a recent U.S. Supreme Court case ruling that a lawful permanent resident cannot be deported for committing a nonviolent residential burglary. The reason is that the Immigration and Naturalization Act's definition of crimes requiring deportation is too vague to pass constitutional muster.

Federal judge: DOJ can't withhold grants from sanctuary cities

A federal judge in California has just ruled that the Department of Justice does not have the authority to make or deny criminal justice grants based on a city or county's "sanctuary" status. He issued a nationwide injunction to prevent the DOJ from requiring cities and counties to cooperate with federal immigration priorities in order to receive these grants.

As you know, last year Texas passed a statewide ban on sanctuary jurisdictions. And, as we discussed at the time, a federal judge overturned that ban but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of it. No Texas municipality can declare itself a sanctuary jurisdiction or resist cooperating with ICE or the USCIS. Therefore, the ruling won't have much effect in our state.

When things get out of hand

How does enjoying Friday night by clubbing turn into a fight with criminal charges filed against you? It can happen in an instant. An angry fellow patron decides to make an argument physical, and you both end up trading blows.

What happens next? If you haven't had charges brought against you before, you're probably nervous and unsure of what is to come. Here is a brief description of assault law basics in Texas.

Texas Court of Appeals: Late turn signal doesn't justify search

Andreas M. was pulled over by Houston police in September 2014 after he didn't activate his turn signal until after he began making his way through an intersection. That wasn't, however, the reason for the traffic stop.

The actual reason for Andreas was pulled over was apparently that he had been to a particular sports bar the police were staking out. According to police, Diddy's Sports Bar is notorious for drug trafficking. When Andreas's white Chevy truck was observed leaving the establishment, a plain-clothes officer followed it in an unmarked car. He reported the untimely turn signal to uniformed police and directed them to pull over the Chevy and arrest Andreas.

Dreamers racing to renew documents as president unravels DACA

Texas is home to a high population of immigrants, and a portion of them gained documentation to reside in the United States legally under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Collectively known as Dreamers, these young people currently face uncertainty and the future threat of deportation because the Trump Administration plans to remove the protections for people brought to the country as children without documentation. Many of them are striving to gain renewals of their DACA privileges, but the $495 filing fee and the frequent need for legal advice raise barriers.

Grassroots organizations, many of them run by Dreamers and student organizations, have been working hard to provide legal and financial assistance. Online crowdfunding campaigns have played an important role in raising funds. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency has 21,000 DACA requests pending. This represents only a small portion of the almost 700,000 people nationwide who could lose DACA protection and be forced out of the country.

To address backlogs, DOJ sets new quotas for immigration judges

In the U.S., immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice. That allows the DOJ to set their policies and even reverse the precedents they set. Recently, the DOJ issued a memo setting a new, high quota for immigration judges.

In order to receive a "satisfactory" rating on their annual performance evaluations, immigration judges are now required to complete at least 700 cases each year, with less than 15 percent of those cases reversed on appeal. This is meant to help clear out a 700,000-case backlog which, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is allowing deportable immigrants to linger in the U.S. while they await a court date.

Changing employers with an H-1B visa

Employment duration is evolving. No longer is employment a lifelong commitment between an employee and an employer. Workers move from one job to another in search of higher compensation, career advancement and a better work-life balance. The average worker changes jobs ten or more times during his or her career. Workers with employment-based visas are no different.

State Dept to require social media info from most visa applicants

The State Department has announced that it wants to collect more information from virtually everyone who applies for a U.S. visa -- approximately 15 million people each year. If new regulations are approved, it will begin collecting social media histories, past email accounts, phone number histories and other information from all standard visa applicants, including those visiting for business, tourism or education.

The proposal was published last week in the Federal Register, where federal regulations and proposed regulations are published. The public can post comments about the proposal for 60 days, or until May 29. Once the comment period is up, the new requirements will be approved or declined by the Office of Management and Budget.

Change in immigration policy to impact pregant women

A policy change finalized in December 2017 says that female immigrants held in Texas and elsewhere will not be released simply because they are pregnant. Congress was informed of the change in policy by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 29 before reporters were told of it later that day. Currently, those who attempt to cross the border illegally must be detained, but they can be released if they pass an asylum threshold test.

According to ICE, there were 35 pregnant women who were in custody as of March 20, and another 506 had been detained. Individuals who are in ICE custody face the prospect of being detained for a long period of time. The conditions that they experience while being held may not be ideal for pregnant women, and advocacy groups have questioned whether they have access to adequate medical services.

Decorated Army vet was deported, now gains US citizenship

Hector B. was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as a 7-year-old. He became a lawful permanent resident in 1992 and enlisted in the Army right out of high school. There, he received both the Humanitarian Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He served for six years and was honorably discharged.

He says the recruiters misled him. He believed he would receive U.S. citizenship automatically after he completed his service. He did not.

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