immigration court

Tag • Immigration Law Blog

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.

 

Kong Xin Chen is Free!

Deportation Defense of Kong Xin Chen

Kong’s arrest and the prospect that he could be deported has visibly shaken his community in Marshfield, Massachusetts, drawing the attention of the Boston Globe, the Quincy, MA Patriot Ledger and other Massachusetts newspapers. Kong’s case has earned the sympathy of state and congressional representatives and prompted his community to rally around him. His supporters have created a Free Kong Now Website, organized a fundraiser to help support his family and flooded my office with heartbreaking letters of support.

This afternoon I got off the phone with Kong’s brother and he told me the amazing news: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released Kong from jail! Very soon, he should be back in Massachusetts reunited with his family, friends and supporters, all of whom must be ecstatic at this wonderful and unexpected news.

While Kong’s immediate release is certainly something to celebrate, the legal battle to stop his deportation and to gain immigration status in the United States is far from over.

Here’s some background on what happened and why. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Kong on his own recognizance (without requiring an immigration bond) under what is known as an Order of Supervision. Kong’s release didn’t come about because of my exceptionally brilliant legal work. And it doesn’t mean that Kong got any sort of special treatment from the immigration system. Instead, he was released as part of the standard custody review protocol that ICE is required to follow for all non-criminal immigration detainees who, like Kong, are subject to final orders of removal or deportation. After returning to Massachusetts, as a condition for his release, Kong will be required to report in periodically at the ICE office in Burlington.

An Order of Supervision means that Kong is free for the time being but it doesn’t directly confer any immigration status. It’s just an alternative to detention and a temporary reprieve from a certain fate. In other words, while immigration authorities are arranging travel documents so that can be Kong forcibly deported from the United States, he will not have to remain in jail.

Even though he is free from jail, without further legal advocacy, Kong can still be deported at any moment. As part of our deportation defense strategy, the next steps, as I see it, are to request that the Department of Homeland Security exercise favorable prosecutorial discretion in several forms. First, we will ask the Office of Chief Counsel in New York, New York to consider filing a joint motion to reopen his deportation order in Immigration Court. Next, we will ask U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Boston Field Office in Burlington, Massachusetts to grant deferred action, as well as a stay of deportation.

For all of you who care about Kong and his family, for fans of Mandarin Tokyo restaurant, once the celebrating is over, I urge you to redouble your efforts. Keep doing whatever it is that you’ve been doing.

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.

If you use an immigration lawyer, will USCIS suspect that something is wrong with your immigration case?

Green Card Lawyer Boston

At a meeting in my immigration law office in Boston, a potential client recently asked me this question:

I’m interested in hiring an immigration lawyer to prepare my green card case. But is it risky to use an immigration lawyer? I’m concerned that if USCIS sees that I have an immigration lawyer, the immigration officer might get suspicious. By using an immigration lawyer, perhaps the officer will presume that my case has some problem or issue.

The notion that an immigration officer will suspect that your case has some problem simply because you have hired an immigration lawyer is utter nonsense–a complete myth. Everyone has the legal right to be represented by an immigration lawyer of their own choosing. In my experience, using an immigration lawyer never generates suspicion that your case has a problem.

Anyone can fill in your name and address on an immigration form. But only an experienced, effective immigration attorney can spot issues before they crop up. If you decide to prepare your immigration case on your own, without an immigration lawyer, you do so at your own peril. You may think that you don’t need an immigration lawyer because you assume that your case is easy. But without an immigration lawyer, you can’t be sure that you’ve seen all the relevant issues. You might need a complicated immigration waiver and not even know it!

So, you now know that if you need help with an immigration issue, you can feel free to hire me or consult with me without fear of reprisal!

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.

10 Tips for Boston Immigration Court

Deportation Defense Tips for Boston Immigration Court

As a deportation defense lawyer who frequently appears in Immigration Court in Boston, here are some tips that should improve your experience at your immigration hearing:

  1. Attend all hearing in Immigration Court (and all other courts). If you don’t go to Immigration Court for your hearing, the Immigration Judge will give you an order of removal or deportation “in absentia” and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
  2. Arrive one hour before the time of your scheduled hearing. In Boston Immigration Court, for all master calendar hearings, a sign-in sheet is placed in the waiting room. I tell my immigration clients to arrive and sign in one hour before the scheduled time of the hearing. The sooner you sign in, the sooner your immigration case will be heard by the Immigration Judge. Plus, showing up early helps ensure that you will be in Immigration Court on time. Be careful: if you are late for your immigration hearing, you could be given an order of removal or deportation.
  3. Dress appropriately. Boston Immigration Court is a serious place and you want to show the Immigration Judge and the Trial Attorney that you take the proceedings seriously. Don’t wear a hat inside the courtroom. Take off your jacket. Wear what you would wear to a job interview or to a wedding. Inappropriate attire includes t-shirts with questionable slogans, spandex, stiletto heels, mini skirts, do-rags, shorts–you get the idea.

  4. Be respectful to the Immigration Judge and to the Trial Attorney.  Maintain a calm, polite demeanor in Immigration Court–even if things don’t go your way.  Think of it this way:  deportation is bad but deportation plus being arrested and held in contempt of court is worse.
  5. Do NOT bring small children to Boston Immigration Court in the hopes that it will make the Immigration Judge more sympathetic to your immigration case. Keep in mind that hearings in Immigration Court take a long time and often require lots of waiting around. Combine the boredom of waiting with the stress of the immigration hearing and you have a not-so-great environment for young children.
  6. Make sure the Immigration Court has your correct address on file If you change your address, notify the Immigration Judge immediately by filing Form EOIR-33 with the appropriate proof of service.

  7. Turn off your cellphone in Boston Immigration Court. Off means completely off. Don’t send text messages or put your cellphone on the vibrate or silent mode.
  8. If you case is based on a pending I-130 immigrant petition based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, make sure that your U.S. citizen spouse comes with you to Immigration Court for all of your master calendar hearings.
  9. Do not bring a non-lawyer to Immigration Court to speak on your behalf.  In Immigration Court in Boston at master calendar hearings, I sometimes see people attempt to have their U.S. citizen spouse or family member speak on their behalf.  The Immigration Judge will not permit this.  Only lawyers licensed to practice law in the United States are authorized to appear in Immigration Court as your representative.
  10. Hire the best immigration attorney you can find. In Boston Immigration Court, the Department of Homeland Security will be seeking to deport you from the US. This immigration agency will be represented by lawyers who handle countless deportation cases each week. Unlike criminal proceedings, federal immigration laws don’t provide you with the right to a free lawyer. But you do have the right to be represented at your own expense by the lawyer of your choosing. In Immigration Court, you are not required to be represented by an attorney. But, in my experience, I have rarely seen anyone successful represent himself or herself in Immigration Court. You need a lawyer with substantial experience in complicated immigration issues and deportation proceedings, preferably an attorney who practices immigration law exclusively. Meet with an immigration lawyer well before your hearing to come up with a strategy to protect you from deportation.

If you have questions about Immigration Court, please call my Boston immigration law firm at 617-722-0005.  We are ready to help you come up with a strategy to help protect you from deportation.

Boston Immirgation Court will be closed the first week of August

The Immigration Court in Boston, Massachusetts will be closed August 3 – 7, 2009 while the Immigration Judges attend a conference. While the Court is closed, no hearings will be conducted, except emergency bonds, which will be heard telephonically by Immigration Judges who are not Boston Immigration Judges. The Immigration Court is in the process of rescheduling all hearings scheduled for that week.

Although the Immigration Court will be closed, I’ll be hard at work. If you need the help of an immigration lawyer, call me at (617) 722-0005 and come see me in my Boston immigration law office.

How to win or lose in Immigration Court

If you are facing deportation or removal from the United States and have a hearing in Immigration Court in Boston or elsewhere, your fate is in the hands of an Immigration Judge who will weigh the evidence and reach a decision. Immigration lawyers refer to this process as the Court’s or the Judge’s discretion.

People often underestimate the power of an Immigration Judge’s discretion.  So I’d like to give you three specific examples of how Immigration Judges have the discretion to decide deportation cases:

#1:  “Why did the Immigration Judge deny my case?  All of my criminal cases were dismissed!”  Imagine that you are married to a U.S. citizen and are applying for a green card.  You have a hearing before an Immigration Judge for your I-485 application to adjust your status to permanent residency.  You have been arrested several times but all of your criminal cases were dismissed.  Even though your criminal charges didn’t result in a conviction, it would be a mistake to assume that the Immigration Judge will automatically approve your I-485 just because your criminal cases did not result in a conviction.  You are not necessarily entitled to a green card.  The Immigration Judge has discretion to approve or deny your green card application.  In making that decision, the Immigration Judge will want to know more about your criminal cases even if you were not convicted.  The Judge will weigh the evidence and reach a decision in their discretion.  And if you don’t convince the Immigration Judge that you deserve to become a permanent resident, you are going to lose.

#2:  Immigration Bond If Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) arrests you and puts you in jail, you have a right to a bond hearing where you may ask an Immigration Judge to release you on an immigration bond.  The immigration regulations require the Immigration Judge to make three important discretionary decisions.  First, as a threshold matter, the Judge must decide whether you are a danger to the community.  Unless this decision is in your favor, you will not be released on bond. Second, if the Immigration Judge believes that you are not a danger to the community, the Immigration Judge will then decide whether you are likely to return to court if released.  And, third, if the Immigration Judge decides that you are not a danger to the community and that you are likely to return to Immigration Court for future hearings, the Judge will determine the cost of the bond.  The important point is that these three key decisions–dangerousness, flight-risk, and cost of bond–are all entirely within the Immigration Judge’s discretion to determine as he or she sees fit.

#3 Asylum:  If you are applying for asylum in Immigration Court, you must convince an Immigration Judge that you have suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of returning to your home country. To prove your claim, you may testify and present evidence.  An Immigration Judge has the discretion to decide whether you are telling the truth and whether your case deserves to be approved or denied.

If you lose in Immigration Court because the Immigration Judge makes a discretionary decision that you dislike or disagree with, you do have the right to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.  But no matter how much you disagree with the outcome of your case, it is extremely difficult to successfully challenge an Immigration Judge’s discretionary decision.  Appealing the denial of your bond is particularly difficult because you will be in jail while the appeal is pending.  The likely result of your appeal could merely prolong your time in jail.

In short, winning or losing in Immigration Court usually boils down to an Immigration Judge’s discretionary decision. And my job as a deportation defense attorney is to persuade the Immigration Judge to make a discretionary decision in your favor.

If you have questions about Boston Immigration Court, bonds, hearing, trial strategy or other issues; or if you need an attorney to represent you, please call me in my Boston office at (617) 722-0005 to schedule an immigration consultation.