The story of a young girl facing possible deportation after being apprehended by border patrol agents while she was on her way to a hospital to undergo surgery has raised questions about the so-called sensitive locations where immigration-based arrests are not generally conducted.
Sensitive locations refer to areas that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has restricted immigration enforcement actions except in three situations:
- If there are exigent circumstances;
- The immigration officials are led to the sensitive location through other law enforcement investigations; or,
- The immigration officials have prior approval to conduct the enforcement actions from a designated supervisory official.
In some cases, arrests and other enforcement actions can take place in a sensitive location as long as there is a prior agreement between the undocumented immigrant and immigration enforcement agents. For example, when an undocumented immigrant surrenders to immigration agents at a hospital or church.
Sensitive locations include hospitals, schools, daycare centers, rallies or demonstrations, and places of religious worship. Courthouses are not considered sensitive locations. The designation of these areas as sensitive areas is supposed to encourage people to seek the services offered at these locations without fear of deportation. It is also important to note that sensitive locations that are located near a border are treated differently. Sensitive locations near borders are afforded less protection that those away from borders, although immigration officers are supposed to use common sense in taking action in these areas so as to act within the spirit of the policy.
The young girl mentioned above was detained after being stopped at an immigration check point on her way to the hospital as opposed to being detained at the hospital. Therefore, and immigration officials argue that this distinguishes her from someone who would be arrested at a hospital after going there to seek treatment. While this seems like a hollow distinction, because the policy of not making arrests in sensitive locations is a government agency policy and not a law, there are few ways to challenge its application unless the agency failed to follow its own policies.
Because of deportation priorities, immigration agents do have some discretion when it comes to whom to detain and place in immigration proceedings, and this determination can be made on a case by case basis. In the past, undocumented immigrants who were convicted of crimes were priority targets for deportation. The priorities are less clear now.
Undocumented immigrants who need to go to sensitive locations for services should not rely on the designations of these spaces as sensitive spaces. Being improperly apprehended at a sensitive location is not a defense that will necessarily stop an undocumented immigrant from being deported.
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If your family member has been detained pending deportation proceedings, you need an experienced immigration attorney to present your best case before the immigration judge. For legal assistance with seeking a change in your immigration status, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to experienced immigration attorney Nathan Wei from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California for a consultation.
Thousands of children come into the United States each year as unaccompanied minors, often undocumented and seeking asylum or other status that may permit them to stay in the United States. When these children are apprehended at the border, they are taken into the custody of a federal agency known as the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Once the minors are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, they are often released to sponsors in the United States while immigration proceedings are pending. The sponsors are usually related to the unaccompanied minors, although they do not have to be immediate family members, such as parents.
Before the minors can be released to sponsors, the sponsors have to undergo background checks and register with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Under the law, in order for a person to qualify as a sponsor, he or she does not have to be in the country legally. Therefore a parent can act as a sponsor to an unaccompanied minor even if the parent is undocumented. Interviews of potential sponsors are also conducted to ensure that they are suitable to care for the unaccompanied minors.
When unaccompanied minors are released to sponsors, they can go to school like other children in their community. Public schools provide educational services to children without considering their immigration status.
There is always the risk that an unaccompanied minor may be deported back to the country he or she fled. However, if the minor satisfies the criteria for asylum or refugee status, he or she can stay in the United States and receive additional benefits. The status of the sponsor does not generally affect the minor’s ability receive asylum or other legal status in the United States.
In the past, the parents or other relatives stepping forward to act as sponsors did not have to worry about being targeted for deportation. Unfortunately, parents and other relatives of unaccompanied minors are worried about the effects of coming forward to act as sponsors for their children under the current administration. Media reports have indicated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials plan to arrest and deport undocumented parents and relatives who step up to act as sponsors for their children. This is supposed to discourage unaccompanied minors from coming to the United States, which in turn may discourage their parents from staying if they are already in the country.
If unaccompanied minors cannot find sponsors who are related to the children, they may have to be placed in government run facilitated or group homes. In some cases, the minors may be placed in foster homes until the immigration hearings are held.
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If a parent of an unaccompanied minor has a way to gain legal status in the United States, he or she should pursue this before applying to act as a sponsor. If you would like to be the sponsor for an unaccompanied minor but are worried about the effect this would have on your own immigration status, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP.
When an undocumented immigrant who has American born children is in removal proceedings facing the possibility of deportation, the immigrant may seek a waiver from being deported because the immigrant’s deportation would cause extreme hardship to his or her children. This is a recognized exception, and if the immigrant can meet certain factors, he or she may be able to avoid deportation.
In claiming that the children will face undue hardship, there is a difference in the kind of information required as proof of the hardship when the children have another parent present in the United States and that required when the parent facing deportation is the only parent present in the United States.
If the parent being deported is the only parent, the court presumes that the children will leave the country with the parent who is being deported. Because the children are American citizens, the court cannot order the children to leave the country with a parent who is ordered to be deported. In order to rebut the court’s presumption that the children will leave with the parent, the parent must present an affidavit in which the parent expresses his or her intention for the children to remain in the United States. The parent has to show how the children will be cared for if they remain in the United States.
When the children’s other parent is in the United States, the parent claiming extreme hardship does not have to provide these affidavits. The assumption is that the children will remain in the United States and be cared for by the remaining parent. There is no requirement of supporting affidavits even when the parent with whom the children would remain is also an undocumented immigrant. The court does not consider the remaining parent’s undocumented status as a barrier to caring for the children. The parent being deported can still claim the children will face extreme hardship if he or she is deported, even when the children remain in the care of a parent who is also undocumented.
If the parent does not intend to leave the children in the United States upon his or her deportation, he or she can still allege that the children will suffer undue hardship from returning to the parent’s country. This may be a more difficult way to prove hardship because the children still have the option of staying in the United States since they are citizens.
As we have discussed before, if a parent of a United States citizen is deported before he or she has the chance to make arrangements for the care of the children, and the children’s other parent cannot care for the children, the children may be sent to foster care. It is therefore important for an undocumented parent to have a contingency plan in place for other family members or friends to care for his or her children if the parent is unexpectedly deported.
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Undocumented immigrants facing deportation generally have a better chance at deportation hearings if they are represented by an attorney than if they represent themselves. If you have a loved one facing deportation, you need to contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to experienced immigration attorney Nathan Wei from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California for a consultation.
Naturalization is one way in which a person born in a country outside the United States can acquire U.S. citizenship. A foreign born individual can become a naturalized citizen by marrying a U.S. citizen and being a lawful permanent resident for three years, being a lawful permanent resident for five years through means other than marriage, by having qualifying military service, or by being a qualifying child of a U.S. citizen. A person can also become a U.S. citizen by acquiring derivative citizenship.
Once a person becomes naturalized, he or she receives a certificate of naturalization to show that the person has become a U.S. citizen after meeting the necessary requirements. A certificate of naturalization should not be confused with a certificate of citizenship.
A certificate of citizenship is given to a foreign born individual who acquires derived citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent or parents, whether the parent is a birth parent or an adoptive parent. The child who obtains this kind of derivative citizenship usually must be under the age of 18. A certificate of citizenship is used as proof of citizenship, but does not confer citizenship status.
After a person becomes a naturalized citizen, the status cannot be revoked or the certificate of naturalization cancelled, without a hearing before a federal judge. On the other hand, a certificate of citizenship can be revoked without a hearing as an administrative matter if the underlying derivative citizenship is shown to be fraudulent or invalid. For example, a person lies about being the natural or adopted child of a U.S. citizen, and provides fraudulent documents to prove this, and is issued a certificate of citizenship based on this information. The certificate of citizenship can be cancelled as soon as it is discovered that the person provided false information.
The cancellation of the certificate of citizenship does not cancel or revoke a person’s otherwise valid citizenship. If the person can prove derivative U.S. citizenship another way, he or she may do so.
This administrative procedure for cancelling a person’s certificate of citizenship is not applicable to naturalized citizens. The process of revoking a person’s naturalization is more complicated. There are some situations in which an immigrant’s naturalization can be revoked, and the immigrant can lose his or her status as a U.S. citizen. This usually happens if there is a problem with the person’s initial qualification for naturalization. If the person did not meet the criteria for citizenship, whether fraudulently or through a mistake, the person’s citizenship through naturalization can be revoked.
However, the United States Supreme Court has held that if the basis of revoking a person’s naturalization is misstatements on a person’s naturalization application, the misstatements have to be material. The government has the burden of proving that the misstatement was material to the granting of citizenship. Therefore, minor misstatements cannot be the basis of stripping someone of U.S. citizenship.
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For more information on how an experienced immigration attorney can assist you in a proceeding to revoke your naturalization, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California.