Articles Posted in Immigration Status and Criminal Defense

For fifty years, the policy of the United States was to permit Cubans convicted of deportable crimes to remain in the United States. This policy is coming under review and may be reversed. The United States has not deported Cuban nationals from the United States and the Cuban government has refused to accept their citizens who would be subjected to removal.

Alejandro Mayuorkas, the deputy secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security has publicly stated that the issue will be discussed with Cuban authorities in the context of negotiations to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. Of the approximately 34,500 Cubans who have been convicted of crimes which subject them to deportation, the overwhelming majority have not filed legal papers to stop their removal; assuming that their special status will not be modified.

U.S. / Cuban flagsImmigration lawyers throughout the United States, and particularly in Miami, where the largest number of Cubans subject to deportation reside, have been swamped with calls for help. Because those who have been issued deportation orders in past years have not elected to fight those removal orders in Federal Court they may have lost the right to object to their removal. As a result of their confused legal status: ordered to be removed but not removable due to U.S. policy, those individuals ordered to be removed may face removal in the coming year or two.

The United States Supreme Court, in rulings in 2001 and 2005, prohibited the detention of those immigrants who cannot be deported to Cuba pursuant to the policies of the U.S. Federal authorities. The rulings required that they be released into the community after serving their prison terms in the United States and were, and are, required to report in person or by mail to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE). Knowing and monitoring their locations permits the ICE agents to find those individuals and begin removal if and when Cuban and United States negotiators resolve the question of removal.

As of the date of publication of this report (February 2015), ICE has not changed the policy as to the removal of Cubans residing in the United States who have been ordered to be deported. With the exception of 2,746 Cubans who were accepted by Cuba in 1984, there have been no Cubans removed to or accepted by Cuba. Of those 2,746 Cubans on the list, almost all of them arrived in the United States in 1980 on the legendary Mariel boatlift operation. The Mariel Boatlift of 1980 is reported to have brought 125,000 Cuban nationals in private boats to Miami, Florida. Many nations, other than Cuba, make it difficult or impossible to remove their citizens who are in the United States and commit deportable offenses. Among those nations listed by U.S. officials as “recalcitrant nations” are Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, China and several other Caribbean nations.

The Sun Sentinel, a popular newspaper in Broward County and Miami (Florida) recently inflamed passions on this issue by publishing a series of reports about Cubans who have been convicted of Medicare fraud, rape, armed robbery, narcotics violations and violent crimes and who remain in the U.S. and flaunt their special status as non-removable aliens. This has brought about an increase in the tensions between Cubans who have the right to remain in the United States and citizens of other nations who are routinely and regularly deported from the United States to their country of origin.

South Florida criminal defense attorneys representing people swept up in the homeland security removal process witness horrors of epic proportion inflicted on communities and families in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Only the United States government can conceive of an oxymoron of such epic portions as a so-called secure communities act. This highly controversial immigration removal program has come under the study of the University of California in Berkeley, which recently published the results of its study of 375 detainees. Coming as no surprise, the results concluded that the secure committee program seems to be targeting those of Latino origin for removal, rather than the intended group of violent offenders. If you have a criminal history involving a felony charge you should consult with a South Florida criminal defense attorney. Recent federal cases have changed both the scope and the focus of deportation proceedings in South Florida. Start by asking what the current policies towards persons of your national origin and criminal history.

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security has decided that the best way to secure the homeland is to deport as many people as possible. This horror is inflicted on our most productive and hardest working residents with tragic results. Here’s how the system now works: If you have a felony conviction in your past you are sure to be contacted and sent a removal notice. The removal notice begins deportation. If you have a felony conviction in Florida, contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney and ask about the procedure to withdraw your plea and vacate the conviction. In Florida the procedure is known as post-conviction relief under Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. The formal name is a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence. Contact a Florida criminal defense lawyer and ask what grounds exist to file a 3.850 motion and set aside your conviction. There is a two year rule that begins two years after your conviction, or two years after you become aware of the defect in your plea. There are other methods of appealing and extending the two year rule: for example ineffective assistance of counsel or a violation of the constitutional requirements of a plea colloquy. Call a Florida criminal lawyer for help and get started immediately. Make sure the Florida criminal lawyer you hire has extensive experience in appeals and post conviction work. It is often easy for a newby to miss an issue which can get your sentence set aside.

On the national forefront of news, family immigration is being fixed by US lawmakers as a source of dishevelment in a currently creaky system. Representatives claim that families have been split apart for years by visa issues for immigrants based on backlogging. “The benefits cannot be overstated,” Honda said. “American workers with families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those distanced from loved ones for years on end.” Family reunification

is being looked at as the primary target by the legislation currently lined up and set for Senate approval. The legislation would further go and allow Americans to bring same-sex partners into the country as “family members.” Opposition to this provision has been made by pro-life organizations.

“There has always been somebody … after they got here, then they wanted to close the door,” Abercrombie told reporters. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaiian Democratic congressman, is one of the leaders in the increasingly liberal government voice. President Barack Obama has been keen on the issue of immigration reform and is said to have his own package coming up to public scrutiny in the next few weeks.

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Over the summer of 2008, Haiti was hit hard by four consecutive hurricanes and tropical storms almost immediately after experiencing multiple food riots. Displaced by the storms were thousands of people, many were left starving. With no help from distant humanitarian aid, the future looks more bleak than ever.

Though recovery efforts have slowly commenced, much of Haiti remains in a state of destruction. 40,000 people are in make-shift shelters, and severe proper food sustenance issues have risen. Yet deportation levels are on the rise, according to national statistics.

Following the destruction of the inclement weather over Haiti, deportation flights of Haitian nationals had been suspended following serious concern from immigration advocates and political party offices. While the following sudden resumption of deportations is not a positive sign, the way in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went about implementing this change is cause for controversy.

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The US Supreme Court held that the 4th Amendement can apply in deportation cases.

This is a big step towards granting constitutional protections to those without legal status in the U.S.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami have large populations of non-US residents without status. South Florida criminal lawyers are always mindful of the deportation consequences of arrests in Florida for criminal law violations.

The ruling creates a legal basis for lawyers to argue that an egregious violation of the 4th Amendment requires the courts to act.

The argument is that if the government doesn’f follow the law then law has no meaning. It doesn’t matter if the violation is upon a citizen or non-citizen: the rule of law must prevail.

Florida courts permit those charged with a crime to avoid a conviction with a “withheld adjudication”.

You can truthfully answer “no” to the question: “Have you been found guilty of a felony?” if the criminal court in Florida “withheld adjudication”

But… Federal court a “withheld” adjudication is considered a finding of guilt.

If you are facing federal removal proceedings (deportation) over a conviction you have in Florida for a crimiinal charge you should contact a criminal lawyer in South Florida and ask about having your Florida plea withdrawn. There is a procedure to withdraw a plea IF your plea directly results in deportation and you were not advised by the judge at your sentencing of the possible immigration consequences.


Deportation of those convicted of crimes has become a major focus of Federal immigration authorities.

Over the past three years the numbers of persons expelled from the US has gone up markedly.

South Florida criminal defense lawyers are increasingly asked what can be done.

Florida law permits criminal pleas to be withdrawn if deportation is a direct result of a guilty plea and deportation consequences were not clearly explained by the sentencing judge.

The 4th District in Florida, which hears appeals from Fort Lauderdale (Broward) and Palm Beach pronounced the rule: Failure to advise of immigration or deportation consequences of a plea to a criminal charge can be grounds to withdraw a plea. The defendant must allege and prove that 1. You were not advised of the deportation consequences of a plea 2. That the plea alone subjects you to deportation 3. The motion to withdraw the plea is “timely”.

If you are facing federal removal proceedings contact a Florida criminal defense attorney for a consultation. The area is complex so take the time to speak to a criminal attorney with immigration experience.

3942 people were forcibly deported from South Florida by Homeland Security during the first six months of 2007.

5889 people were deported from South Florida during the first six months of 2008.

An increase of over 2000 deportations during the first six months of 2008.

Starting in 2007 federal authorities have focused on deporting inmates in Florida correctional institutions: those charged with aggravated assault, weapons charges, kidnapping, sex offenses, cocaine possession, drug trafficking, money laundering, sexual assault and sexual battery are priority deportations.

The expanded scope of federal authorities in seeking deportation of those charged with or convicted of crimes means a successful criminal defense is critical.

Criminal lawyers throughout South Florida increasingly have to consider the immigration and deportation consequences of an arrest and conviction.

For many criminal defense attorneys in South Florida this new focus on the immigration aspects and considerations of their clients is uncharted territory. Increasingly those arrested and charged with crimes in South Florida are demanding their criminal defense lawyer give them quality advice on immigration issues.

Attorney Ralph Behr, whose practice is limited to criminal defense and state and federal court, has expanded the scope of criminal defense services to include immigration consultations with prominent immigration attorneys in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

For more information or consultation call one 800-761-3446

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