Late last week, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court urged in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly that courthouses be added to the list of "sensitive locations." A sensitive location, according to ICE and CBP policies, is a place where immigration agents are generally supposed to avoid while carrying out enforcement operations. Recognized locations currently include:
As this blog has increasingly stressed, the immigration consequences of traffic violations in municipal court for foreign nationals should not be underestimated, especially during the Trump Administration. While most routine moving violations under Title 39 do not generally trigger deportability, there are some more serious infractions that carry what the courts call a "consequence of magnitude"-meaning, to put it bluntly, substantial fines and the risk of imprisonment. Anytime a non-US citizen is exposed to jail, it would be prudent to have the charge evaluated by an immigration attorney. While the internet is a wonderful source of information, there is a lot of outdated information out there, and the reality is that we are living in a new age with new rules. What was true or the common practice before-even as late as last year-is not necessarily true now.
Preparing for a green card interview is just as crucial as submitting a properly completed application. Part of that preparation process entails not only knowing what type of questions will be asked but also furnishing the required necessary documents at the interview. Failure to bring necessary paperwork can not only delay a final decision in a case but also potentially result in a denial. Generally speaking, a couple should be prepared to show the originals of any copies that were submitted with the I-130 submission. For example, if the US Citizen spouse submitted a copy of his/her birth certificate as proof of US Citizenship, he or she should be ready to furnish the officer with the original if asked at the interview. In addition, parties to a marriage case should expect to provide documentary proof of their relationship.
Just last week, five applicants were reportedly picked up and arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") when they appeared for their immigration interviews with USCIS in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Apparently, three of them were scheduled to appear for interviews in connection with their applications for green cards. Although it is not entirely clear, the context appears to suggest that these were marriage based interviews. Not surprisingly, incidents like these have revived fear and paranoia within the undocumented community about being picked up at immigration interviews. And while it is not the intent of this piece to feed that hysteria, occurrences like these do underscore the importance of seeking proper legal advice from qualified and experienced professionals-not notarios or dabblers-before filing immigration paperwork with the government. Especially when it comes to those who have no status, it is critical to understand what can happen just as much as what will probably happen. Filing for status or permanent residency is not as easy as filling out a form, as if one were filing a tax return (which, in truth, can be equally complex).