Law Offices of George Giosmas

25 years of experience

Hollywood Florida Immigration Law Blog

Trump administration continues campaign against DACA

The Justice Department is pursuing its case to stop a program that could affect many people in Florida. Formally known as Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA was launched by the Obama administration to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States when they were children. Multiple cases are proceeding in federal courts across the country, including those in California, New York and the District of Columbia. Now, the Justice Department is calling on the Supreme Court to intervene in all three cases, before an expected verdict from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In January, a federal judge ruled that President Trump lacked the authority to eliminate DACA. In February, the Supreme Court refused to take the appeal out of the hands of the circuit court; however, now the Supreme Court has one more Trump appointee, Justice Brent Kavanaugh. Because of the court's Republican-appointed majority, it is considered more likely to support the Trump administration's position. However, the Justice Department acknowledged in the papers it filed that the 9th Circuit is fairly likely to render its opinion before the high court considers its filing.

The president may be limited in ending asylum

Florida residents may have heard about a migrant caravan crossing into Mexico recently. Its stated goal is to come to the United States, and President Trump has vowed to deny asylum to some or all in the caravan who attempt to enter the country. However, it is unclear whether or not the president has the power to do so. At a minimum, such a move would be challenged in court.

The right to seek asylum is backed by the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention as well as the 1990 Immigration and Nationality Act. Asylum means that a person is seeking protection in a foreign land after escaping persecution or other violence in their home country. Anyone who reaches a port of entry or is in the country may request such protection, and this is true even if they enter the country illegally.

Court pushes for asylum reviews for separated immigrant families

Many people who live in Florida entered the country as immigrants. Despite the hostility of the Trump administration toward Central Americans seeking asylum at the southern border with Mexico, a federal judge has ruled that immigration authorities must process asylum claims for dozens of adults and children who were separated at the border during 2018.

In September, a settlement agreement between federal officials and the courts was meant to launch the process of reconsidering asylum applications of over 1,000 people. At the time, attorneys from the Department of Justice indicated that they would begin reconsidering claims. Instead, government lawyers later tried to delay the work by arguing that the settlement was not yet official because it awaits a scheduled hearing to evaluate its fairness.

Asylum seekers sue U.S. officials over immigration policy

Many people in Florida have been concerned about how the Trump administration's widely publicized positions on immigration could affect refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution. According to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, asylum seekers on the border between the United States and Mexico have faced unlawful interference with their ability to file for asylum. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 13 individuals seeking asylum and an immigrant legal services organization, challenges what it refers to as the "Turnback Policy" of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Lawyers allege that CBP agents deliberately and illegally attempted to stop people from seeking asylum at the border with Mexico, telling asylum seekers false or misleading stories. In some cases, people were allegedly told that there was no capacity to process their asylum applications. Other people were told that the Trump administration had enacted new legislation and that the United States would no longer recognize asylum claims. The suit noted that these practices left particularly vulnerable at risk of serious persecution or even death due to deportation.

What immigrants should know about the hurricane season

Hurricane Michael was one of the most intense storms in U.S. history, and hurricane season still is not over yet. Many families in Florida find themselves dealing with the aftermath of the damages and fear what they will do next to recover or where they will go if another storm comes crashing down their area.

With how much deportation enforcement has increased within the last year, it is crucial for undocumented immigrants to know how much it will impact their relief efforts for hurricane recovery.

Supreme Court hears case on immigration detention

People in Florida and across the country may be concerned about the outcome of an immigration case that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly as the decision may hang on the votes of two Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. On Oct. 10, the high court heard arguments from Trump administration lawyers arguing for greater authority to detain immigrants pending deportation after the completion of criminal sentences. In some cases, these periods of detention could drag on for years after a jail or prison sentence expired.

A lower court ruled against the expanded immigration detention authority sought by the Trump administration, which has made a political priority of action on immigration. The administration appealed the ruling, claiming that it undermines its ability to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. In the past, however, at least one Trump-appointed justice has sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court in ruling against expanded government power to detain people without hearings. In an April 5-4 decision, Gorsuch opposed the administration's policies seeking to escalate post-conviction immigrant deportation.

Federal report on zero tolerance immigration policy

Many families in Florida have been affected by immigration policy changes under the Trump administration. According to a federal report, the Department of Homeland Security did not properly plan for the "zero tolerance" policy that led to separation of over 2,500 families.

According to the report, the department detained minors longer than legally allowed, gave incorrect and incomplete information to their parents and failed to provide basic data on the families that were involved.

Limits on judges' power to end deportation

An immigration court judge may be unable to stop deportation for some immigrants in Florida. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that immigration judges do not have this power and that this can only happen if it is authorized by regulations or if the Department of Homeland Security has been unsuccessful in proving its deportation case.

Sessions argued that the DHS was given exclusive authority by the Immigration and Naturalization Act to put people in the removal process and that the Attorney General is in charge of supervising proceedings. Circumstances in which an immigration judge could stop proceedings would include a request from DHS, an improperly issued Notice to Appear or a change in circumstances so that it is no longer in the government's best interest to deport the person. There may also be exceptions related to eligibility for citizenship and humanitarian grounds.

New asylum interviews for parents of separated children

After the Trump administration's family separation policies at the southern border provoked widespread outrage in Florida and around the world, parents who were denied asylum could have a second chance to make their case. This arrangement comes as part of an agreement reached between the Department of Justice and attorneys representing the families subjected to the separation policy. According to the text of the settlement submitted to a federal court for approval, up to 1,000 families may have the opportunity for a new asylum hearing.

These hearings represent the first stage of the asylum application process; applicants must show that they have a credible fear for their safety or lives if they are returned to their country of origin. Parents who failed that initial interview while they were separated from their children will have a new chance to make their arguments. According to the families' lawyers, the settlement represents an important step toward protecting families' rights to seek asylum in the future. They argued that the parents were unable to present their cases effectively due to the trauma and fear associated with enforced separation from their children. In the second interviews, immigration officials will need to consider the parents' psychological state in their first asylum interviews.

Reminders for interactions with immigration officers

For non-citizens living in Florida, the idea of interacting with immigration officers can elicit feelings of fear and dread. With the tumultuous state of immigration laws and policies in the United States, it’s not irrational to feel this way. Despite the challenging times, non-citizens living in the U.S. do still have rights when interacting with law enforcement officers.

It’s important for non-citizens, no matter your immigration status, to know your rights if ever approached or detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or another law enforcement entity. It’s entirely possible to get through an interaction with law enforcement without incident, so consider these reminders if that day comes.