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Fear of Deportation is Still Alive


The number of deportations is still too high in the midst of President Obama's strugle to implement his executive action plan. According to the President's plan, millions of undocumented immigrants will avoid deportation for the next 3 years.

Although the Obama administration has announced that it would give temporary legal protection to millions of immigrants, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is still aggressive when it comes to immigration enforcement (also known as detention and deportation proceedings).

First, let's briefly talk about President Obama's plan. If his plan is implemented, it will temporarily remove the threat of deportation for nearly five million undocumented immigrants, focusing mostly on parents of U.S citizen and permanent resident children. However, 6.5 million undocumented immigrants who live without children and 671,000 undocumented immigrants who live with non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident children will still be subjected to deportation.

The government will also target immigrants (both documented and undocumented) convicted of a crime. The percentage of deportations that involved undocumented immigrants convicted of a crime has increased significantly from 35 percent in 2007 to 59 percent in 2013, according to the Department of Homeland Security. But those numbers include minor infractions like traffic violations.

On March 9, 2015, top immigration officials announced that the ICE apprehended about 2,000 people who had been convicted of crimes and are living in the country without lawful status. Most of those arrested were not convicted of violent crimes. Specifically, nearly all of the 912 people with misdemeanors were convicted of driving while under the influence (DWI). And about 500 of the felons had been charged with an immigration violation, trying to enter the country without the necessary paperwork.

This was a strategic announcement to counter conservatives' harsh criticism on the Obama administration for pulling back on immigration enforcement. While the administration plans to create a safe haven for some, it will still aggressively deport whomever it can. Last year alone, the agency deported about 316,000 people. Although this number has declined from 2013, deportations are still too high.

Many immigrants are still living under the fear of deportation. The statistics show that the government will treat violent crimes the same as minor traffic infractions when it comes to deportation. For example, a convicted rapist will be treated the same as someone who had a minor traffic violation.

When it comes to facing criminal charges, it is imperative to consult a lawyer who knows how to handle both criminal and immigration issues. If you are an undocumented immigrant and were charged with a crime, you must consult an immigration attorney because your immigrant status may be affected by the outcome of your criminal case.

It is important to understand that even if you are undocumented, you have certain rights under the U.S. Constitution, the New Jersey Constitution, federal, and state laws.

These are some examples of your rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • You have the right to be represented by a lawyer
  • You have a right to a bond hearing
  • You have a right to contest DHS's removal allegations

Helpful Tips:

If you are detained by ICE or arrested by a police officer:

  • Please do not answer questions without consulting a lawyer. Even if the officer is nice to you, it is important that you do not give any statements prior to consulting a lawyer;
  • Anything you say can be used against you;
  • Contact a lawyer immediately;
  • Do not resist arrest; be polite and courteous to the officer but do not discuss or answer questions regarding you immigration status or any alleged crimes or charges