In 2012, around 12,196,959 arrests were made in the United States. Many of these arrests involved illegal immigrants, and many of those immigrants are rightfully scared of deportation after a brush with the law.
For those living in the U.S. but were not born here, seeking the advice of an immigration attorney is the best recommendation. This is especially true for those who have been in the country since the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act was passed in 1996. Under this act, a broader spectrum of minor offenses was added to qualify immigrants for deportation.
While not everyone may be able to afford an immigration lawyer, public defenders have large workloads and would need a year and a half just to complete a year’s worth of work. This is because 60% of state systems do not allow for public defenders to deny cases even if they do not have time for them.
One story that is making headlines is that of Mickel Mesa. Mesa, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, decided in 2015 to spend Christmas with family in his home country. After all, he hadn’t seen them in over a decade. Upon his return to the U.S., however, he was detained and arrested.
The reason for his arrest? A 2006 felony for which he had been convicted – and for which he had already served his time. Mesa, like many other immigrants in his situation, did not have lawyers to explain that even though he had served his time for the felony offenses, he still had to receive a second punishment in immigration court.
In part because he did not have a lawyer with experience in immigration law, Mesa was sent back to the Dominican Republic, despite having a green card. The American Immigration Council reports that 10% of all deported people are legal permanent residents, with 68% being deported for committing minor and nonviolent crimes.
In order to avoid a situation like Mesa’s, it is crucial that you seek the legal counsel of an attorney with a background in immigration law to help you understand your rights and options. This is especially true if you find yourself involved with the law at any point before becoming a citizen. An immigration lawyer from John Elledge and Associates can be just what you need to achieve the American dream.