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Two Massachusetts Prosecutors Sue Trump Administration Over Courthouse Immigration Arrests

According to reporting from Boston.com, two of the top prosecutors in Massachusetts have filed a joint lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the Trump Administration’s authority to conduct immigration enforcement operations at courthouses. This action comes days after a Massachusetts judge was indicted for allegedly helping an undocumented immigrant escape out the backdoor of a state courthouse to avoid ICE. Here, our Boston immigration attorney provides an overview of the lawsuit and explains why ICE courthouse raids make our community less safe.

The Legal Argument: Violation of the Constitutional Right to Access Courts

The lawsuit — which is reported to be the first of its kind in the country — was filed by Rachael Rollins, the District Attorney for Suffolk County and Marian Ryan, the District Attorney for Middlesex County. In their complaint, they raise a number of different legal arguments against the federal government.

Most importantly, they argue that the Trump Administration’s policy of conducting immigration enforcement operations at Boston-area courthouses has the effect of denying many community members their constitutional right to reasonably access the courts.

When immigrants fear the possibility of an ICE raid, they are simply much less likely to participate in the legal process at all— even though they may be witnesses to the crime or even the victim of the crime. District Attorney Marian Ryan stated in a press conference that she has recently had multiple criminal cases disrupted because of this issue.

Courthouse Enforcement Operations Make Our Community Less Safe

In far too many cases, crime victims are unable to access justice because witnesses are too afraid of deportation to participate in court proceedings. Getting justice for the community requires making state and federal courts a safe space from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and other enforcement operations. Officials in other states, including in New York and in California, have also taken action to limit the ability of federal immigration officers to conduct enforcement operations in courthouses.

Notably, the lawsuit filed by District Attorney Rollins and District Attorney Ryan comes just days after a Massachusetts judge was arrested for allegedly helping an undocumented immigrant evade an ICE agent inside a courthouse. As reported by National Public Radio (NPR), Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph of the Newton District Court was charged with obstruction of justice by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts after she allegedly helped an undocumented immigrant slip out of the back door while an ICE agent was waiting in the front of the courthouse. A now-retired court officer was also charged in the case. They both have pleaded not guilty.

Get Help From Our Boston, MA Immigration Attorney Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our Boston immigration attorneys are committed to providing exceptional legal representation to immigrants and their family members. We are strong advocates for immigrant rights in Massachusetts.

To set up a fully confidential review of your case, please do not hesitate to contact us today at (617) 722-0005. From our office in Boston, we represent clients throughout the region including in Suffolk County, Middlesex County, and Norfolk County.

 

Boston Immigration Court will be closed on February 8, 2013

In anticipation of a major snow storm, the Immigration Court in Boston will be closed on Friday,  February 8, 2013. The Immigration Judges will extend all filing deadlines and reschedule all deportation and bond hearings set for February 8, 2013. The court will be open normal hours on Monday, February 11, 2013.

I expect similar cancellations at the Boston and Lawrence District Offices of USCIS, but I’ve received no formal.

My law office will be closed at 1:00 PM on February 8, 2013 and the MBTA is scheduled to close at 3:30 PM

Stay warm, be safe. And, of course, call me if I can do anything at all to help you with your immigration needs.

Marriage-based green card interview in Boston? You need to know about this new procedure

Boston Green Card Lawyer News

If you live in Massachusetts and are seeking a green card based on marriage, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a new way of conducting adjustment of status interviews.

At issue is whether the marriage is based on a relationship that the couple entered into for genuine, bona fide reasons. Traditionally, an immigration officer would conduct the marriage-based green card interview by sitting down together with the husband and wife together at the same time. The officer would question the couple and try to figure out whether the relationship was genuine or fraudulent.

Now, the new procedure is to interview the husband and wife separately starting with the visa petitioner (U.S. citizen). The immigration officer asks both the husband and the wife the same question in separate interviews. There are no wrong answers–only same or different. The separate interviews are now standard procedure at USCIS Boston and Lawrence District Offices for all marriage-based green card adjustment of status cases.

As an immigration lawyer, my experience with the separate marriage-based green card interviews has been fairly positive. The questions seem reasonable, fair and designed to weed out marriage fraud and to make sure that the couple really know each other well, as any genuinely couple would.

I can offer you three general pieces of advice: first, make sure that you and your spouse know each other well. Don’t hide important but potentially embarrassing personal information such as a divorce or a criminal history from your spouse. To get your green card, your husband or wife will need to know everything there is to know about you. The immigration process is not the time for secrets.

Second, if an immigration officer asks you a question, don’t respond with a guess. If you don’t know the answer, just say that you don’t know! If you guess and your answer doesn’t line up with your spouse’s answer, the officer could conclude that your marriage is not based on a genuine relationship. If so, your immigration case could be referred to USCIS fraud unit and, eventually, be denied.

Third, hire an good immigration lawyer! I work with clients who are seeking a green card through marriage to prepare thoroughly or the adjustment of status interviews. I’ve handled countless cases and can help you fix problems before the immigration interview.

For more information about the marriage based green card process, please call my Boston immigration law office at 617-722-0005. I’d be happy to help.

How to Get a Green Card in 27 days. A Boston Immigration Lawyer explains

Green Card Lawyer Boston, Massachusetts

If I had a dollar for every time a client has told me that their friend got their green card is four weeks, I’d have been able to retire long ago. But the reality is that, right now, if everything goes perfectly, when someone living in the Boston, Massachusetts area seeks a green card through adjustment of status (I-485) based on a concurrently-filed visa petition (I-130) filed by through U.S. citizen spouse, the entire process takes about 5 months, give or take a month or so.

Contrary to my normal experience, yesterday, I witnessed a miracle. My client got a green card in just 27 days. That’s right–27 days!  So how was he able to blast through the entire immigration process in such a short period of time?

Here’s the background on this happened. My client was a research scientist at a famous university in Boston, Massachusetts. In late-October, he was selected to receive a prestigious award, which carried with it $1 million in research funding. But there was one small problem. To qualify for the award, he needed to become either a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen by the first week of December. I told him that it was unlikely that he would be able to get his green card in such a short time frame. But since he intended to apply for a green card anyway, I saw no harm in trying.

Under time pressure, my office prepared all the immigration forms in a single day. Don’t ask me how but the client managed to walk away with a completed medical exam in one day. Next, we filed his green card case with USCIS and got immigration receipt notices back in one week.

Then, I enlisted the help of Ines Goncalves-Drolet, a miracle worker who handles constituent services for Congressman Barney Frank. At the request of Ines and Congressman Frank, USCIS Boston District Office agreed to request the file and expedite my client’s I-485. USCIS National Benefits Center sent his green card file to USCIS Boston District Office via overnight courier and an adjustment of status interview was scheduled within a few days time.

For helping my client expedite his green card, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Congressman Barney Frank, Ines Goncalves-Drolet as well as USCIS Field Director Karen-Anne Haydon, District Director Denis Riordan and the officers and staff at USCIS Boston District Office. Without crucial help from these people and others, my client would likely still be waiting for his green card and one million dollars in research funding might have been lost.

If you want to get your green card approved in an expedited fashion, it’s easy!  All you need is an immigration case with impeccable merits, a compelling national interest, the sympathetic ear of a congressional representative, the favorable discretion of your local USCIS field office director . . .  and a good measure of luck.

If you need help with your green card, citizenship or other immigration case, call my Boston immigration law office at 617-722-0005. I’d be happy to help you.

 

 

 

Reporting a foreign birth abroad to a US consulate

Immigration Attorney – Boston, MA

I recently spoke on immigration issues Islamic Society of New England in Quincy, Massachusetts. It was a great night and I certainly appreciated the warm reception and generous hospitality of Imam Khalid.

In my presentation, I stressed the importance of legal representation. It always sounds so self-serving when I tell people that they should hire a immigration lawyer. I’m an immigration lawyer and so, of course, I would recommend hiring a lawyer. But I say this because I see people again and again making the same simple immigration mistakes that could have been easily avoided if only they had consulted with a decent immigration attorney beforehand.

At the mosque in Quincy, MA, I fielded many good questions on a variety of immigration topics. Several people wanted to know how to report a foreign birth abroad. Here’s the lead-up to the question and a common situation: a guy files an N-400 to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. After gaining U.S. citizenship, he returns to his home country, gets married and has a child. So question is how do you get the wife and child green cards so they can immigrate to the United States?

First, the U.S. citizen husband needs to file a petition for immigrant visa for his wife. You can do this by filing Form I-130 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the child will automatically gain immigration benefits simply because by being listed on the wife’s immigration form. A separate visa petition (I-130) must be filed for the child.

But another way around this problem exists. Under certain circumstances, the child could derive U.S. citizenship from the father even if born outside the U.S and even if the mother is not a U.S. citizen. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a father will transmit U.S. citizenship to his child if the following conditions are met:

1. The father must be physically present in the U.S. for a period of five years, two of which after age 14; and

2. A biological relationship must be established between the father and the child;

3. The father must agree in writing to support the child until 18 years; and

4. while the child is under the age of 18, the father either (a) legitimates
the child, (b) acknowledges paternity, or (c) establishes paternity in court.

If you can meet all of these requirements, your child already has US citizenship and, therefore, doesn’t need a visa to enter the US.  Instead, to enter the US, you will need to get a American passport for your child by filing Form FS-240 or Consular Report of Birth.  Along with the form, you should submit documentation to show that you meet all the requirements.  The form is filed at the US Consulate abroad in the country that your child lives.

The bottom line is that no one can properly gain admission into the US without either a visa, a green card or a US passport.  Seek the advice of a good immigration lawyer to make sure that each member of your family has some basis for gaining entry.

For more information or answers to your immigration question, please call or email me to set up a time to meet with me.

Former immigration client attacked in Boston with pasta!

As an immigration lawyer in Boston, this case must be one of my most unusual. I appeared on Boston’s Channel 5 news in connection with a bizarre incident that happened to one of my former clients. Click on this link here to read the story and watch the video.

Sure the story is strange.  But my former immigration client–who I helped get U.S. citizenship–did the right thing.  He remained calm.  And he called 9-11.  Fortunately, surveillance cameras captured everything.

All in all, I was happy to step in and help my former immigration client.

Can you get a green card through marriage if you don’t live with your spouse?

As an immigration attorney in Boston, I’ve helped countless immigrants navigate through the process of becoming permanent residents through marriage to a U.S. citizen. One of the most frequent questions I get is whether you can successfully obtain a green card through a marriage petition if you and your spouse aren’t living together.
The answer is yes . . . and no. Let me explain.
I answered “yes” because there is absolutely no legal requirement that you and your spouse have to be living together in order for you to get a green card through a marriage-based immigration petition. The only requirement is that you and your spouse must persuade U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or an Immigration Judge that your marriage was entered into for good faith reasons. You have the burden of proving that your marriage is based on a relationship that is genuine and bona fide. And to meet that burden, you don’t have to show cohabitation.
Is it possible to persuade immigration authorities that your marriage is bona fide even if you don’t live with your spouse? The answer is really depends on the facts of your case. Perhaps you and your spouse have extensive documentation such as jointly-held insurance, leases, tax returns, bank account statements, which definitively shows that the two of you intend to establish a life as a married couple. But, for whatever reason, life’s circumstances require your temporary separation. I’ve gotten green card cases such as this approved.
But remember: your marriage certificate doesn’t entitle you to a green card. And if you do file a marriage-based immigration petition while separated from your spouse, proceed with caution. Marriage fraud is rampant. You shouldn’t be surprised if USCIS takes a skeptical view of your relationship. In my experience as an immigration lawyer, you should have a well-documented and compelling reason for living apart.
One final piece of advice: if you are seeking a green card through marriage–whether you live together with your spouse or apart–the absolute worst thing you can do is to claim to be living together with your spouse when, in fact, you are not. Falsely claiming to live with your spouse will doom your chances for a green card. And a denial of your immigration case will likely result in a trip to Immigration Court for deportation proceedings.
If you are thinking about applying for permanent residency through marriage and would like the advice of an experienced immigration attorney, call my Boston immigration law office today at 617-722-0005.

Why my answer to your quick immigration question is usually “it depends”

“Can I apply for green card? Yes or no?”
“I just have a quick question”
“My immigration case is easy. What should I do?”

When potential immigration clients call me and ask me these sorts of questions, they want to hear my snap advice on their immigration cases. My usual answer is “it depends.” And for potential immigration clients, “it depends” can be frustrating and disappointing response.
Why is it that my off-the-cuff answer to your immigration questions is “it depends”? Is this just my way of luring you into taking the time and incurring the needless expense of coming into my Boston immigration office for a full consultation. Of course not!
The truth is that immigration law is extremely complicated. And the immigration laws are constantly changing. When I say “it depends” what I mean is that your particular immigration options depend on the specific facts of your case. My job is to figuring out how the fact pattern of your case fits into the framework of U.S. immigration laws.
Let me give you an example. If someone were to say, “Hey Josh, I have just have a quick question. Can I you apply for a green card if you enter the United States without inspection?” The answer, in general, would be no. That is because under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you can’t file an I-485 to apply for adjustment of status in the United States unless you can prove entry with inspection and admission.
But that quick, simple answer is misleading and inaccurate because the following 3 exceptions exist:

  1. Beneficiaries of 245(i)-eligible visa petitions, i.e., I-130 or I-140 applications filed on or before April 30, 2001, may be able to file for adjustment of status even if they have no proof of how they entered the U.S.
  2. Those who are applying for immigration benefits under the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA may file for adjustment of status even if they entered the U.S. without inspection.
  3. If you were granted asylum, CAT (Convention Against Torture) or withholding of removal, you may be able to file an I-485 even if you initially came into the U.S. without inspection. In part, this is because asylum and asylum-related applicants apply for adjustment of status under Section 209–not Section 245–of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Would one of these specific exception apply in your immigration case and allow you to apply for a green card even if you entered the U.S. without inspection? The answer is–you guessed it–it depends! My advice would depend on a whole series of follow-up questions. I’d also want to review your passport, USCIS receipt notices and other documentation. And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I were to give you legal advice about your immigration situation without asking you if you have ever been arrested or been to court for a criminal case, whether you ever overstayed a visa, given false or misleading information to USCIS, etc.
The bottom line is that if you need immigration advice, there is no such thing as a simple question or a simple immigration case. And the only way I can give you any more advice than “it depends” is if you come see me in person in my Boston office and allow me to methodically analyze your case.
If you need advice or immigration help or representation in Immigration Court in Boston or before USCIS, call me at 617-722-0005 today.

Deportation and Juvenile Court Proceedings

Since I’m an immigration attorney, I’m often asked for my opinion on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions and activities. Yesterday, a criminal defense attorney in Boston asked me whether, in Massachusetts, a non-citizen youth who breaks the law and who is found delinquent by a juvenile court could end up being deported as a result of the juvenile delinquency finding.

The short answer is no. According to the Board of Immigration Appeals, a juvenile adjudication isn’t considered a criminal conviction for immigration purposes. The logic behind this rule is that juvenile proceedings are not criminal. So a delinquency finding on a deportable offense will not cause a juvenile to be deported.

But beware: juvenile adjudications can trigger other adverse immigration consequences. They can be used to bar a finding of “good moral character”, which is a requirement for naturalization and other forms of relief from deportation such as cancellation of removal. Also, as a discretionary matter, Immigration Judges can view juvenile activities as a negative factor when considering any application for relief from deportation.

And some immigration provisions don’t require the existence of a conviction and can be based on an admission of guilt or merely a perceived “reason to believe” that the person has been involved in criminal activity. For instance, a person can be denied adjustment of status to permanent residency or entry into the United States based on an Immigration Judge’s “reason to believe” that the person has been involved in drug trafficking or money laundering. The “reason to believe” could be based on non-criminal juvenile proceedings.

To summarize my advice, a youthful offender conviction or a juvenile delinquency finding is not considered a “conviction” for immigration purposes and, therefore, can’t be the basis for deportation. But such adjudications should be avoided because they could affect a person’s immigration status in other ways.

Two final points:

1. Massachusetts Youthful Offender Law: This statute permits children between the ages of 14 and 17 to be prosecuted as adults when charged with serious felony crimes. It is possible that at some point, immigration authorities could make a legal argument that youthful offender convictions should carry the same immigration consequences as adult convictions. But from my research, no federal cases, published Board of Immigration Appeals decisions or other legal authority support this position.

2. Juvenile dispositions must be disclosed:  Appearances in juvenile court, although not criminal, must be disclosed on immigration forms such as applications for adjustment of status to permanent residency (I-485), and applications for naturalization (N-400).

If you have further questions about the deportation, juvenile proceedings, or possible immigration consequences, feel free to call me at (617) 722-0005. Schedule an consultation with me in my Boston immigration offices. I’d be happy to help you.

 

Tips on Naturalization / Citizenship from Boston AILA Conference

In Boston, Massachusetts, I recently spoke at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Conference on Immigration Law.  The topic was citizenship and naturalization.

Several immigration lawyers from Massachusetts have sent me follow up questions. In response, here are a few tips that will help you successfully handle an application for naturalization, N-400.

Research your client’s criminal history before submitting the N-400 application for naturalization by requesting an FBI rap sheet or Interstate Identification Index (“III”) and a Massachusetts CORI.  The FBI III is based on fingerprints.  My office fingerprints immigration clients in-house using this kit.  The Massachusetts CORI is based on name and date of birth, which is why it is essential to list on the form every possible spelling of your client’s name, as well as aliases. Keep in mind that these records are notoriously inaccurate.  The final step is to track down criminal dispositions for all court appearances.  Remember: your job as an immigration lawyer isn’t done until you have closely reviewed court-certified final criminal dispositions showing all docket sheets for each court appearance.

Selective Service and Citizenship.  For male naturalization applicants, failure to register for Selective Service for permanent residents between the age of 19 and 26 bars a finding of good moral character during the requisite three or five year period but only if the applicant knowingly or willfully failed to register.  In my experience as an immigration lawyer, many clients mistakenly believe that they forgot to register for Selective Service when, in fact, they actually did.  If your client says that he never registered with Selective Service, you should double check to make sure he’s right.  You can use the Selective Service Online Registration Verification available here. If your client’s Selective Service information is not found, this does not necessarily mean that he failed to register. You should then call the agency at 888-655-1825 to see if his registration is in the system. And, finally, to prepare for the naturalization interview, you should request a status of information letter from Selective Service.

Fill out the N-400 with meticulous attention to detail to avoid “false testimony.”  Even the smallest mistake on the N-400 form could be used as an excuse to deny your immigration client’s N-400.  As a matter of good moral character, an applicant for citizenship can be denied if, during the requisite period of time, he or she knowingly provides false or misleading information to an immigration officer for the purposes of obtaining an immigration benefit.  Using this legal standard, USCIS could construe inaccurate information on the naturalization application as a deliberate lie and, therefore, a ground for denial. This comes into play particularly when disclosing adverse information such as criminal appearances.

Good Moral Character: how to determine whether your client has met the standard.  To obtain US citizenship through the naturalization process, you ordinarily must show good moral character for 5 years or for 3 years if your claim is based on marriage to a US citizen.  If your client has a criminal conviction, it may be necessary to wait to file the N-400 until the date the offense was committed is outside the 3- or 5-year period.

Good luck.  If you need help from a Boston immigration lawyer who enjoys complex citizenship cases, call me at (617) 722-0005 or contact me anytime.