Massachusetts

Tag • Immigration Law Blog

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Supports Immigrants, Stands Behind Newly Amended ‘Trust Act’

As reported by WGBH, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently told Boston Public Radio that immigrants should be able to feel safe in our city. The mayor’s statements came after rumors swirled that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the instructions of the Trump Administration, was preparing to launch major raids in dozens of cities across the country — including in Boston. 

However, Mayor Walsh and Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement Director Yusufi Vali confirmed that there was no evidence of unusual deportation raids in the city. In addition, the Mayor also reaffirmed his support for the Boston Trust Act — a local law that was recently amended to clarify that the Boston Police Department will not act as an immigration enforcement agency. 

The Boston Trust Act: Explained

Passed unanimously by the City Council in 2014, the Boston Trust Act is a local ordinance that seeks to ensure that all immigrants are able to fully and completely participate in economic life and civil life in Boston. Among other things, the Trust Act limits cooperation between city law enforcement agencies and law enforcement officers and federal immigration agents. It is sometimes referred to as Boston’s sanctuary city statute.  

However, there have been some serious questions raised about the viability of the Boston Trust Act — especially in the light of the harsh actions that have been taken by the Trump Administration to undermine immigrant rights. 

In June of 2019, city officials, supported by Mayor Walsh, filed amendments to make the Boston Trust Act significantly stronger. Specifically, the amendments make it clear that local law enforcement officers in Boston will not arrest someone based solely on their immigration status. In Boston, the police will not make an immigration arrest unless a court order in place.

ICE Can Still Conduct Operations in Sanctuary Cities

It should be made clear that local sanctuary status is not a blanket protection against federal enforcement action. 

Boston is one of nearly a dozen cities and towns in the state of Massachusetts that identify as a ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions for undocumented immigrants. The Boston Police Department is focused on handling local matters — not handling federal immigration issues. Still, sanctuary laws like the Boston Trust Act, as important as they are, will not always prevent ICE from conducting raids. 

If you or your loved one was arrested or detained by ICE in Massachusetts, immediate action is a must. It is imperative that you reach out to an experienced Boston, MA immigration attorney as soon as possible. 

Discuss Your Case With Our Boston, MA Immigration Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our Boston immigration attorney is a compassionate and committed advocate for clients. We handle the full range of immigration cases, including defense against deportation or removal. To schedule a strictly confidential immigration consultation, please call us today at (617) 722-0005. With a law office in Boston, we serve communities throughout the state of Massachusetts. 

 

Undocumented Immigrants in Massachusetts are Fighting for the Right to Get a Driver’s License

According to the most recent information provided by the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), undocumented immigrants are eligible to apply for a driver’s license in 12 different U.S. states. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is not one of these states.

A group of activists is pushing to make a change. As reported by Inequality.org, the Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center is part of a statewide coalition pushing for reforms to the Massachusetts driver’s licensing standards. Here, our Boston, MA immigration attorney explains why all adults should be allowed to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status.

We are a Car-Based Society: 80 Percent of Workers in Massachusetts Drive to their Job

Perhaps more than any other developed country in the world, the United States is an automobile-based society. As noted by Inequality.org in their report on this issue, nearly eight in 10 Massachusetts workers indicate that they typically drive get to their job. For people who live outside the City of Boston, the percentage is even higher than that. Preventing a person from getting a driver’s license dramatically reduces their economic opportunities and their ability to support themselves, their family, and their community.

Undocumented Immigrants Should Be Able to Drive Without Fear

No one wants to be pulled over. For undocumented immigrants, the fear associated with a traffic stop is exponentially higher. In many cases, that initial stop, and the lack of a driver’s license, will eventually lead to deportation proceedings. Even a simple stop for something like rolling through a stop sign could result in criminal charges for driving without a license, and, subsequently, removal from the United States.

As explained by Andrea Schmid, an organizer who works at the Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center, it is “very easy” for undocumented immigrants to get caught up in the system simply because they lack the ability to get a driver’s license. If you are caught driving without a license in Massachusetts, you could face an arrest and criminal charges. In many cases, this is what triggers deportation.

The Proposal: Pass the Work and Family Mobility Act

Activists and organizers are pushing Massachusetts legislators to support a bill called the Work and Family Mobility Act. Essentially, this law would allow undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts to obtain an ordinary driver’s license — one that is no different than the one that is issued to any other driver in Massachusetts. This would help increase economic opportunities for undocumented immigrants and reduce fear from the Trump Administration’s draconian immigration policies. Notably, similar legislation has already proven to be very effective in other states, including in California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont.

We Support Immigrant Rights in Massachusetts

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are proud to support immigrant and immigrant rights in Massachusetts. Our top-rated Boston immigration has more than fifteen years of experience handling the full range of immigration law matters. To set up a strictly confidential immigration law consultation, please contact our law firm right away.

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.

 

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.

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.

Boston Deportation Lawyer: Welcome to new home of Boston ICE Detention and Removal in Burlington, Massachusetts

Boston deportation or a removal hearing in Immigration Court often begins with a visit from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). For the unfamiliar, these are the guys that deport people.  The immigration raid in New Bedford, Massachusetts was a fine example of the handiwork of ICE. If you are a green card holder but have a criminal conviction, you may have to contend with ICE. Overstayed your student (F1) or visitor visa (B1/B2)? ICE is the immigration agency you should fear.

In late 2007, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement moved its Office of Detention and Removal (DRO) from the 17th Floor of the JFK Federal Building in Boston, MA to a new facility in Burlington, Massachusetts.  Their new address is:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO)
10 New England Executive Park
Burlington, Massachusetts 01803
Phone number: 781-359-7500

If a friend or family member gets arrested in Massachusetts and taken into the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE agents will most like transfer them to the immigration office in Burlington, MA for processing before being moved to an immigration detention center. Immigration bonds are now posted at the ICE Detention and Removal in Burlington, MA and not the JFK Federal Building in Boston.

Recently, with the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA), I toured the new ICE Detention and Removal facility in Burlington. Since my job as an immigration and deportation defense lawyer in Massachusetts is to defend immigrants who ICE has arrested, I was particularly interested to see the ICE office in Burlington first-hand.

My overall impression–ICE means business! For someone like me who fights to protect people from deportation, it was intimidating to realize that so many critical resources have been devoted to ICE’s new deportation facility. Its Burlington Massachusetts deportation office is tricked-out with latest state-of-the-art electronics and a “War Room” with 100 cubicles–all filled with immigration officers hard at work figuring out how to arrest and deport people. In terms of detention, ICE’s Burlington office has 4 cells, each holding about 25 immigration detainees.

Unless the Obama Administration shifts focus, I fully expect the surge in deportation cases through Massachusetts and New England to continue in 2009 and beyond.

On our tour, the ICE officers were generous hosts. I was impressed by their professionalism. We had an opportunity to meet with Bruce Chadbourne, the Director of ICE Field Office with supervisory responsibilties over Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Director Chadbourne met with us immigration lawyers and informally answered our questions at great length. I came away convinced that the ICE Burlington, MA office is committed to working cooperatively with the Massachusetts immigration attorneys to resolve any issues.

USCIS shifts from Boston to Lawrence in 2009

As a citizenship and deportation attorney based in Boston, I’m sad to report that 2009 could mark the beginning of the end of the JFK Federal Building as the “immigration building.” According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS) Boston District Director Denis Riordan, USCIS tentatively plans to move the Boston Office from the JFK Building due to space constraints. Director Riordan told the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that new potential sites for the USCIS Boston Office include Quincy, Brockton, and South Boston. However, Director Riordan suggested that the move may not happen if USCIS can arrange more space at the JFK Federal Building.

In 2009, a new USCIS Field Office in Lawrence, Massachusetts will open its doors. USCIS broke ground on the facility in April 2008.

The address for the new USCIS Lawrence Field Office will be:

USCIS Lawrence Field Office
2 Mills Street
Lawrence, MA

USCIS Lawrence Office will employ 40 people, including a USCIS Director, 2 immigration supervisors and 16 immigration adjudicators. The goal is for USCIS Boston to move about 30% of the immigration caseload to Lawrence, Massachusetts.  An immigration interview will be assigned to USCIS Lawrence Office based on the applicant’s zip code. Director Riordan seemed particularly enthusiastic that USCIS was locating its new office in Lawrence, given this city’s large immigrant community.

I understand that the increasing Boston immigration caseload would require USCIS to seek additional office space. But the USCIS Lawrence Office runs counter to the clear logic of having all immigration facilities in a one centrally-located facility. Apparently and astonishingly, the new USCIS immigration office in Lawrence will not even have parking!As a Boston immigration lawyer, it seems odd to me that USCIS would even consider not locating its primary Field Office in Boston. I’m holding out hope that USCIS will remain at JFK Federal Building, given that it is prominently situated in City Hall plaza in Government Center, the heart of Boston’s legal community. The current immigration is served by excellent MBTA public transportation. Another excellent reason to remain at the JFK Federal Building is that my immigration law firm is located in Boston only two blocks away.

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