The Law Office of
Mark Kinzler, P.C.

Austin Immigration Law Blog

Woman adopted while a minor must leave the U.S.

As a state that's home to many foreign-born individuals, Texas has its share of immigration news. However, a recent case in Kansas may be of vital importance and demonstrate the strictness of federal immigration laws. In the case, a South Korean-born woman must leave the United States despite being adopted during the period of her minority.

The parents brought the girl to the U.S. when she was 15. Though they planned to adopt her, the father was deployed overseas for two years in Afghanistan and his attorney assured him the adoption could be put off. Just over two years later, it was finalized. She became the adopted child and pursuant to Kansas law, a new birth certificate was created.

Another chance at asylum possible for some families

Some immigrants in Texas who may have been scheduled for deportation after having their asylum claims denied might get a second change under the order of a federal judge in California. On Sept. 14, the judge ruled that families in which parents had been illegally separated from their children should get a second chance to explain their credible fear of returning to their home countries.

According to the judge, the psychological state of the parents might have interfered with their ability to convey the credible fear. More than 1,000 families will be affected by the judge's decision. Around 400 parents who have already been deported will also have the opportunity to state their cases.

US sidesteps agreement with plans to detain immigrants longer

Since the late 1990s, there has been an agreement in place designed to keep children of immigrants coming into Texas or other states in the least-restrictive setting possible. The so-called Flores agreement, based on a 1997 case, also requires children to be released to family members after 20 days of detention. The Department of Homeland Security is proposing an end to this policy, which could result in children and families being detained longer. Part of the reason for the move is to deter individuals from crossing the border illegally.

The immigration detention agreement became an issue due to the enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy aimed at anyone entering the country illegally. This resulted in nearly 3,000 children of immigrants being separated from their parents, which sparked widespread criticism and accusations of inhumane treatment. Officials responded by saying the move was made because children couldn't be kept in criminal custody with their parents. The current procedure is to house immigrants who came over the border illegally in operational family detention centers.

3 common reasons for deportation

The United States welcomes close to one million immigrants every year. There is a reason so many people want to come to this country and start new lives. Jobs, economic freedom and social opportunities all attract people who want to create a better life. For many immigrants, though — including those who immigrate legally — deportation looms as a constant threat and fear.

Deportation refers to the process of removing a foreigner from a country and returning him or her to the country of origin. The following are some of the reasons why an immigrant may be subject to deportation from Texas or any other state in the United States.  

Legal immigrants targeted for deportation

Immigrants who are detained in Texas and other states are not necessarily undocumented. In some cases, they are permanent residents or otherwise legally in the country but are being held based on criminal convictions that occurred years or decades ago. If the Trump administration has its way, it may also detain those who have used any form of public assistance. This would include the use of public housing or food stamps.

It is believed that there are 20 million people living in the United States on a green card. In 2016, 1.2 million such cards were issued, and it is estimated that about a million are issued in any given year.

Judge orders return of 2 deported immigrants

Two asylum-seeking immigrants who were deported from Texas were ordered returned by a federal judge on Aug. 9. The incident occurred during a hearing in a case that involves a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union to a decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that affects whether people can seek asylum because of gang or domestic violence.

The ACLU is representing several immigrants in the case including the woman and her daughter who were deported. According to the ACLU, they had lived through violent sexual abuse from the woman's husband and threats from a gang. The government had found that they did not pass the test for credible fear that would allow them to remain in the country. However, the government had pledged it would not deport anyone until midnight of the day of the hearing at the earliest. An ACLU attorney received an email during a court recess that the woman and her daughter had been placed on a plane that was taking them back to El Salvador.

Judge orders changes at Texas immigrant detention facility

The Trump administration's controversial immigration policies suffered another legal setback on July 30 when a federal judge ordered that all children being detained at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas be removed from the facility unless a psychiatrist or psychologist determines that they pose a risk to either themselves or others. The judge also ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to no longer administer powerful psychotropic drugs to children unless they have obtained permission from their parents or legal guardians.

The judge made the rulings after hearing accounts of children being denied water, prevented from making telephone calls and being prescribed drugs including Prozak and Risperdal without their parents' consent. The DHSS says that secure facilities like Shiloh are necessary to deal with children who could harm themselves or others or suffer from serious mental health conditions. The ruling comes less than a month after another California federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite thousands of immigrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Judge's deportation ruling offers reprieve to immigrant families

Many Texas residents are aware that the federal government has been widely criticized for its policy of swiftly deporting reunited families of undocumented immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking to give undocumented families more time to prepare their asylum claims or legal defenses, and the district court judge hearing the cased ruled on July 16 that deportations should cease temporarily. Attorneys representing both the ACLU and the government will now have the opportunity to argue whether or not the order should be extended permanently.

The authorities have been working to reunite detained undocumented immigrant children with their parents. However, government figures reveal that the parents of 71 children have not been located and the parents of hundreds of other children have still not been identified. According to official estimates, more than 2,500 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were separated from their parents at the Mexican border by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Questions surround treatment of detained immigrants

Those who have relocated to the United States with the hope of staying may be paying close attention to immigration headlines, and particularly those relating to the treatment of immigrant detainees. While much of the recent media attention involving immigration covered children separated from their parents, the San Diego Tribune is now calling attention to another immigration-related issue: the treatment of detained immigrants across all age groups while in custody.

According to the publication, immigrant detainees and their advocates have lodged more than 800 complaints alleging hate-related abuse and discrimination while in government custody.

Government faces lawsuit for detention of green card applicants

Some people in Texas might be concerned that an attempt to obtain a green card could result in deportation instead. When a man in New Jersey who was an undocumented immigrant went to his appointment at Immigration and Customs Enforcement to apply for a green card, he was instead placed in a detention center. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the New York Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit against the government because of the man's detention.

On June 22, a judge placed a block on the man's deportation although he remains in detention. An attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union says a law passed during the Obama administration that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for green cards without being deported is still on the books. According to her, the actions of the Trump administration, in this case, violate the policy.

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