Law Offices of George Giosmas

25 years of experience

Hollywood Florida Immigration Law Blog

Understanding removal proceedings

If you do not have legal immigration status in the United States, you may be at risk of receiving a Notice to Appear in the mail. When issued this notice, a series of events begins that could lead to your removal from the country. This can be a scary time for families as your hopes and plans are at stake. You may benefit from working with a deportation attorney to navigate and defend your proceeding.

When an undocumented immigrant is arrested for a violation by local police, the officer can share arrest information with ICE. At U.S. borders and airports, border patrol agents make the arrests and turn you over to ICE. Realizing that the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to remove you from the country is an unthinkable reality and it is important to know the steps that may follow your notice.

The role of medical records in an asylum case

In Florida and throughout the country, there is an intense debate about granting asylum to those who seek it in the United States. However, the Highland Human Rights Clinic and others like it are trying to help corroborate a person's story by finding physical evidence of abuse. Evidence may include burn marks, broken bones that haven't set properly or bullet wounds on a person's body.

At the Highland clinic, patients are diagnosed using international standards of determining whether someone has been a torture victim. The medical director there says he also listens to patients' stories to determine if what they say matches up with the physical marks on their bodies. He says that the physical evidence matches the stories that they tell in many cases. However, this is not always true. His experience has taught him how to look for specific signs of abuse that can help an attorney obtain a favorable outcome for an individual.

Trump administration ordered to end arbitrary asylum detentions

A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration may not arbitrarily detain immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. The decision, which was handed down on July 2, could impact immigrants living in Florida.

The case before the district court involved a Haitian teacher who has been held in an Ohio detention facility for over 18 months after requesting asylum due to violence and political persecution in his home country. He has remained in custody even though an immigration judge twice granted him asylum.

Family reunification linked to deportation

The separation of children from their parents during immigration detention has sparked awareness and outrage from people in Florida and across the country. Now, parents are being offered voluntary departure orders by government officials, being told it will speed their cases and that they will be reunified with their separated children before deportation. This is raising alarms among immigration attorneys and advocates for the rights of migrants, because they note that many parents may not fully understand what they are agreeing to before signing the document.

In particular, immigration lawyers noted that there is no reason why it is necessary for parents to be reunified with their children through deportation. They also noted that offering family reunification was an extreme form of pressure being exerted on people, many of whom may agree to sign the order simply to benefit from a promised swift family reunion. At that point, the parents will be given the option for deportation with their children or to leave their kids behind, given that children have greater protection under the law and are being given separate immigration proceedings.

How to seek asylum

People who have fled persecution in their home countries to reach Florida and elsewhere in the United States may be able to seek asylum. You may be granted asylum and be allowed to live and work in this country if you came to the U.S. because you were being persecuted on the basis of religion, race, political opinion, nationality or membership in a social group.

There are two ways that you may seek asylum. You can apply for asylum through the U.S. Asylum Office or raise asylum as a defense to deportation and removal proceedings. In order to prevail on your asylum request, it is important that you have strong documentation demonstrating your reasons for asking for it.

If a green card holder faces charges

Current events have many in Florida questioning the validity of their green card. Due to the Trump administration’s larger efforts to deport immigrants with criminal backgrounds, immigrants who have any convictions or pending charges are at risk facing potential arrest and deportation by ICE.

As shown by the arrest of Jose Luis Garcia earlier this month, this can happen to immigrants who have legal status and had their criminal records resolved decades ago. If the court convicts you on the major grounds of inadmissibility, you may go to prison, get deported, and lose your green card.

Domestic violence victims might not be granted protection

Those who come to Florida or any other state can seek asylum to escape political persecution or fear of violence in their home countries. However, it is unclear whether victims of domestic violence qualify for asylum. That is a question that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to answer. He is of the opinion that domestic violence is a private criminal matter as opposed to formal government persecution.

While he cannot change the law, he can make changes in how judges assess asylum applications. In countries like Honduras, police are not guaranteed to take reports from women who claim to have been assaulted by a spouse or partner. Therefore, immigration lawyers claim that they belong to a group that is entitled to protection in the United States. One attorney says that 90 percent of his clients would be sent back home if Sessions limits who has access to asylum.

Deciding which type of asylum case to pursue

Depending on the facts of a given case, an individual may file either an affirmative or defensive asylum application. An affirmative asylum case begins by filing Form I-589, and after the form is received, an individual will be interviewed by an asylum officer. To file this form, an individual must have been in Florida or anywhere else in the United States within a year of doing so.

After meeting with the officer, the case will either be approved or sent to an immigration judge. A defensive asylum application is filed once a person is in the midst of removal proceedings. A judge will hear arguments from both Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as from the immigrant or the immigrant's attorney. The judge will either grant asylum, look for another way to keep the individual in the country or order the individual to be removed from the country.

ICE to begin deportation of immigrant families

Florida readers may be interested to learn that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will soon begin deporting immigrant families who have been ordered to leave the United States according to ICE Interim Director Thomas Homan. Homan made the comments during a House Border Security and Maritime subcommittee hearing on May 22.

Homan, who is retiring in June, is under orders from the Trump administration to increase immigration enforcement. He told the subcommittee that immigrant families have received "due process" and that it's time for his department to step up enforcement of removal orders. He also said that he expects there to be a backlash in response to the deportations, but the agency will not be deterred from executing the orders.

Eligibility rules for cancellation of removal from the country

Many immigrants have made homes in Florida, but barriers often block their path to lawful residence. An application known as a cancellation of removal could enable a person to attain a status of lawfully admitted for permanent residence instead of able to be deported. A person can submit this application when confronted by a removal hearing and potentially prevent deportation.

For people who are already lawful permanent residents, they might qualify for the cancellation of removal if they meet the criteria. They must have lived in the United States for at least seven years and been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. They cannot have any convictions for aggravated felonies.