Tag • Immigration Law Blog

Two Massachusetts Prosecutors Sue Trump Administration Over Courthouse Immigration Arrests

According to reporting from, 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.


How to get Italian citizenship and other immigration questions that I have no idea how to answer

I consider myself to be an effective immigration lawyer. Want a green card? I can show you the options and assess your chances. Have some complicated legal issues but still interested in applying for naturalization to be a U.S. citizen? Or do you need an attorney to represent you in Immigration Court? I can help.

But, as I’m an immigration lawyer in Boston, sometimes I get downright stumped. Here are some frequently asked questions that I have no idea how to answer:

My grandparents/great grandparents/great great grandparents were born in Italy/Ireland. How do I, as a U.S. citizen, obtain Irish/Italian citizenship? The answer is . . . I don’t know! I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer but don’t know about the laws of foreign countries.

Where can I find a lawyer who can advise me about how U.S. citizens can obtain Irish/Italian citizenship? Again, I don’t know the answer. But to find legal advice on issues of Italian or Irish law, I’d look for a lawyer based in Dublin, Milan, etc.

Would it be possible for me to leave the U.S., enter Canada and apply for immigration status there? I love Canada–everyone does. I just don’t know anything about Canadian law. For advice on Canadian immigration law, look for a lawyer in Toronto, Montreal, etc.

At the airport, I was refused entry into the U.K. This was unfair. Can you help me do something about it? Again, as a U.S. lawyer, I can’t advise you on issues of U.K. law.

The common thread, of course, as that I can only answers questions about U.S. immigration law. Few, if any, lawyers based in the U.S. are licensed to practice in and experts on immigration laws in foreign countries.

So I welcome your questions on topics within my area of expertise–green card, work permits, citizenship and Immigration Court. Just make sure your questions relate to U.S. immigration law.

deportation cases in Boston immigration Court face long delays

As a Boston-based immigration lawyer specializing in deportation defense, I’m well aware of the Boston Globe reported today here. The docket in Boston Immigration Court is overwhelmed with deportation cases.

So, based on this article, if you are in deportation proceedings, how long can you expect to wait before Boston Immigration Court processes your immigration case?  The answer depends on a number of factors.  People with no relief from removal or deportation tend to have their cases processed more quickly.  The long delays mostly impact people who have application for relief such as cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, or asylum.

To give you an example how these delays play out, in December of 2009, I appeared before an Immigration Court in Boston for a master calendar hearing. I turned in pleadings indicating that I was seeking relief from deportation in the form of cancellation of removal with an I-601 waiver for misrepresentation.  An Immigration Judge would likely need  three and a half hours for to conduct a full merits hearing.  The Immigration Judge scheduled another master calendar hearing in December of 2010, where I’m expected to appear and turn in my application for relief.  The Immigration Judge will then schedule an individual hearing, which is a trial date.  I expect that this hearing will be in mid-2012.

So for my client, the entire process of seeking relief from deportation in Boston Immigration Court will take more than 3 years.  This delay is more than a minor inconvenience. During this time, he is unable to travel outside the United States to see his ailing mother.

One ray of hope is that a new Immigration Judge will replace Boston Immigration Judge Cramer, who retired last summer.

“My brother filed a visa petition for me. Is there a way to speed up the process of obtain a green card?” A Boston immigration lawyer responds

Boston deportation defense lawyer

In a recent immigration consultation, I faced the following situation:

A young man entered the United States on a visitor visa and then fell out of status after overstaying. His brother gained U.S. citizenship and then filed an immigrant visa petition, Form I-130, on his behalf. The young man suffered from serious health issues, which were covered by MassHealth. So, with these facts, the family asked me whether there was some way to expedite the process of getting a green card for the young man.

In my view, this young man will face at least three major issues when seeking a green card.

First, according to the Department of State’s most recent Visa Bulletin, an immigration petition filed on behalf a brother or sister is not likely to become current for a long time–10 years or more! And in the meantime, this young man, as the beneficiary of this petition, couldn’t obtain a work permit or social security card. Since he is out of status, he could be put in deportation proceedings. An Immigration Judge could order him to be deported and his pending visa petition wouldn’t protect him from being deported. And, regardless of this person’s medical condition or other compelling equities, I’m not aware of any way to expedite this sort of case. The time frame is what it is. You are bound by the cruel reality of the visa bulletin. In immigration law, as in many other areas of life, no short cuts exist.

Second, since this person is out of status, he has accrued unlawful presence. Therefore, even if he were properly admitted and inspected into the U.S., he would be inadmissible and, thus, wouldn’t be able to obtain a green card within the U.S. One exception to this ground of inadmissibility would be for what is called 245(i) cases. But 245(i) requires that the visa petition be filed on or before April 30, 2001.

Third, once the priority date for this visa petition becomes current, since this person can’t obtain a green card through adjustment of status, he would have to consular process, i.e, seek an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. But if he were to leave the U.S., his unlawful presence would render him inadmissible and, therefore, result in the denial of his immigrant visa application. To cure the inadmissibility, he would need an immigration waiver, Form I-601. To qualify, he would have to have a U.S. citizen anchor relative and show that his U.S. citizen immediate relative would suffer “extreme hardship” if he weren’t allowed to return back to the U.S.  Of course, successful waivers are challenging to prepare.

For more information about how to get a green card through a family member or if you need advice or guidance on other immigration issues, call me and set up a time to meet.

Has Immigration detained your friend or family member? Now you can find their location online!

Boston Deportation Lawyer

Immigration and deportation defense lawyers now have a way to find the location of persons detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by using ICE’s new online detention locator system.  If this online tool actually works as intended, this is an extremely useful development, which is long overdue.

Until now, the location of a ICE immigration detainee was a mystery to everyone–even immigration lawyers.  After being arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE Office of Detention and Removal, the detained immigrant would be placed into a jail, the location of which remained unknown.  Tracking down a detained immigrant involved guesswork and intuition.  The only way I knew to find someone detained by ICE was simply by calling around to the records departments for South Bay (Suffolk County House of Correction), Bristol, Plymouth and the other immigration detention facilities in the Boston area.  So let’s hope and pray that this online system works as planned.

Meanwhile, if you have a friend or family member who has been arrested by Immigration, please contact me.  I’d been happy to help you win their release on an immigration bond and to come up with a strategy to help them solve their immigration problem.

Boston Immigration Judge Francis L. Cramer Retires

Boston Immigration Lawyer News

Immigration Judge Francis L. Cramer has announced his retirement from Boston Immigration Court.  As an immigration lawyer who appeared frequently before Immigration Judge Cramer, I can say that he will be sorely missed.  He had a reputation for deciding deportation cases fairly and impartially.  And he always treated the immigration lawyers and parties with great respect, at times, a lighthearted humor.  His departure leaves a vacancy in the Boston Immigration Court bench that will be hard to fill.

Boston Immigration Lawyer Joshua Goldstein quoted in the Boston Globe

As an Boston immigration lawyer and expert on the marriage-based green card process, I was quoted in today’s Boston Globe article discussing marriage fraud and earlier in a Boston Herald article.  I also appeared on The Boston Channel, WCVB Channel 5 news discussing deportation and sham marriages.  You can watch the news video here.  And you can read my blog on marriage fraud and green cards here.

The Boston Globe article looks at the immigration problems of 3 Pakistanis whom the Department of Homeland Security has detained in connection with the Times Square bombing.  According to media reports, they are facing the prospect of deportation or removal from the United States and are appearing in Boston Immigration Court before Immigration Judge Robin Feder.  Each are married to U.S. citizens.  But attorneys from Immigration and Customs Enforcement allege that the marriages are fraudulent.

Can you avoid deportation by marrying a U.S. citizen?  The answer is yes . . . and no.  Let me explain.

First, if you get married after the government has initiated deportation proceedings, you will have to overcome the presumption that your marriage is sham and that the only reason you got married was to avoid being deported.  Before you can even apply for your green card, you’ll have to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that your relationship was entered into in good faith.

Many people get green cards through marriage.  But the process for getting a green card through marriage while facing deportation is totally different.  You’ll have to file a stand-only I-130 visa petition and specifically request, IN WRITING, an exemption based on a good-faith marriage.  And you can file your I-485 if, and only if, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your I-130.

Finally, even if USCIS grants your I-130, you are not out of the woods.  You’ll have to have an adjustment of status interview before an Immigration Judge who will independently review whether your relationship is a sham.  This hearing will be adversarial and the Department of Homeland Security is represented by experienced trial attorneys who will rip you to shreds on cross-examination if your marriage is sham.

USCIS doesn’t take marriage fraud lightly.  If caught, you’ll be barred from future visa petitions and face criminal fines of up to $250,000 and five years imprisonment.

Bottom-line:  if you are required to appear in Immigration Court and considering marriage as a way to avoid deportation, you should consult with an immigration lawyer with considerable experience in courtroom advocacy.  Call me at 617-722-0005 to discuss your immigration case.

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.


Boston Immigration Court AILA Liaison

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been re-appointed as a liaison to Boston’s Immigration Court for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA) – New England Chapter. As a member of the Liaison Committee to the Executive Office of Immigration Review, I look forward to assisting my esteemed colleagues.

In Boston, immigration lawyers and the Immigration Court have a tradition of warm relationship, for which we can thank the leadership of Court’s Administrator Robert Halpin.  As a liaison, I’m happy to be able make a small contribution to this on-going comity.

Stopping deportation in Massachusetts just got more expensive

Boston area residents with final orders of deportation may request a stay of removal with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) by filing Form I-246 at its Burlington, Massachusetts immigration office.  In the past, there had been no filing fee for this immigration application.  But, apparently, the free ride is over.  Effective immediately, a filing fee of $155 must be paid with Form I-246 in cash, money order or cashier’s check (no personal checks).

To learn more about whether a stay of deportation may be appropriate for your immigration case, please call our Boston office at (617) 722-0005 and speak with one of our immigration attorneys.  If you have appeared in Immigration Court and an Immigration Judge has ordered your deportation or removal from the United States, we are ready to help you by filing an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, or possibly a stay of removal.