Category: Deportation Defense

Big Win at Immigration for Happily Married Couple

When a US citizen marries a foreign national, they can sponsor their spouse for a green card.

If the couple has been married less than two years when the green card is approved, then the foreign national only receives a two-year, temporary green card.

Before the 2-year green card expires, the couple must submit a form called an I-751 form to the immigration service. They have to demonstrate that they are still married and the marriage is real.

If the couple fails to submit this form, the foreign national can lose their status and even end up in deportation proceedings.

Early last year, our law firm was hired to represent a U.S. citizen and his wife. They are both originally from Kosovo.

They have three children and they have lived together every day since they were married.

This couple did file the I 751 on time, but they failed to respond to a request for additional evidence from USCIS. As a result, USCIS denied their I-751 petition.

This couple happens to be members of the Islamic faith. They dress in traditional Muslim garb. S it is not entirely surprising that USCIS sent the woman to deportation court.

This is a bit upsetting, however, given the fact that we have had many clients who come to see us after having not filed there I 751 on time, but without ever being placed in removal. We had a Canadian client who filed it nine years late and he was not placed into removal.

To the best of our recollection, this is the only couple that we have ever had actually sent to deportation for this failure to follow the rules.

After the deportation proceedings began, the couple hired us to try and help.

We filed a new i-751 and submitted a lot of evidence that the couple is still married. The best evidence, of course, is the fact that they have 3 U.S. citizen children between them.

The immigration judge put the deportation case on hold while USCIS decided what to do with the new submission from our office. Last week, we went to a 10 minute interview at the St.Louis field office of USCIS and the case was approved on the spot by one of the supervisors.

We will now be able to take that approval notice and get the deportation case stopped.

We are very happy for a client, especially the wife who has been afraid to go visit her mother back home because of the pending deportation case. Now, she will be able to go visit her family. Our client is also eligible to apply for citizenship now.

20-Year-Old Immigration Law Signed By President Clinton Continues to Harm Immigrants


In 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton signed the harshest immigration bill that this nation had seen in decades.  The effects of this bill linger and hang over any efforts for “immigration reform.”

Interestingly, Clinton’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act has not been discussed much this election cycle, despite the fact that IIRIRA established the deportation machine that has been humming along for two decades now.

Regular readers of this website know that we have been super-critical of Republican hard-liner Donald Trump and his harsh anti-immigrant, xenophobic presidential campaign.  But this does not mean that Democrats get a pass here.

The truth is that the “centrist” Bill Clinton signed the most draconian immigration bill of our lifetime.  President Barack Obama has deported more people than any President in the nation’s history.  Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton promises immigration reform, but what exactly would that reform look like?

Lost in all of this is IIRIRA.  According to a recent article on Vox:

The ’96 law essentially invented immigration enforcement as we know it today — where deportation is a constant and plausible threat to millions of immigrants.  It was a bundle of provisions with a single goal: to increase penalties on immigrants who had violated US law in some way (whether they were unauthorized immigrants who’d violated immigration law or legal immigrants who’d committed other crimes).

IIRIRA greatly expanded the types of crimes that could result in the deportation of a foreign national.  This included lawful permanent residents.  And the Clinton bill made those changes retroactive, thereby boosting the number of possible (probable) deportations.

The law also made many immigrants subject to mandatory detention while their immigration cases were being decided.  This pre-trial hammer was used to make frustrated, imprisoned immigrants give up their effort to stop deportation and simply go home.  An underfunded deportation judicial system only meant that these immigrants had to wait longer and longer while in lockup for their day in court.

Immigrants convicted of certain crimes or those caught within 100 miles of the border were given summary deportation orders without ever having the chance to see an immigration judge.

Finally, the 1996 law made it almost impossible for undocumented immigrants to receive cancellation of removal.  This is a form of relief for longtime undocumented immigrants who had not committed crimes to stay in the country.  IIRIRA made it almost impossible to obtain such relief.

Proponents of immigration reform and immigration advocates are understandably appalled by the harsh rhetoric coming from the Republican party on this issue.  But it cannot and should not be lost on any one who follows this issue that the Democrats have a lot of blame for our current situation as well.


ICE to change the way it houses transgender detainees

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has decided to make a change to the way that they house transgender people. Based on the gender the person identifies with, ICE will house them accordingly. The agency will also track transgender detainees. ICE will train detention staff and prepare individual detention plans for transgender inmates

“ICE will allow for the placement of a transgender woman consistent with their gender identity, meaning that a transgender woman could be with biological females,” said Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, who was also appointed as a national coordinator for issues related to gay, lesbian and transgender detainees.

The move did little to limit criticism from advocates who have encouraged the agency to discharge more transgender inmates, referring to the danger of sexual assault in detention. A heckler recently interfered with President Barack Obama’s comments at a gay pride event in Washington to protest the detainment and deportation of gay, lesbian and transgender immigrants.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality thinks these people shouldn’t be in detention centers.

The Department of Justice issued similar rules for transgender inmates years ago, but many jails and detention centers still aren’t following the rules and continue to house transgender inmates based on their current physical condition or alternately put them in isolation purportedly for their security explained Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project.

transgender protest

ICE currently has about 60 transgender detainees. About 25 are housed in a special unit in Santa Ana, California, for transgender women and gay men. The rest are housed in different facilities across the country, mostly with the general population and consistent with their biological sex

The agency currently houses about 31,000 detainees a day, Lorenzen-Strait said..

“When you decide who should be urgently released, pregnant women, people with severe health problems, transgender individuals, there are certain populations that weigh so heavily in favor of release and that the automatic response is always to detain,” Morris said. “It’s not in anyone’s best interest.”

Immigration enforcement advocate Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said she worries that gender identity could trump other factors, such as flight risk, when making decisions about detention.

“In practice, this could become a double standard for transgender individuals that seems unprecedented,” Vaughan stated





VIDEO: Our St. Louis Deportation Lawyers Can Help with EWI

Are you wondering what happens in immigration inspection? Inspection means that you’ve come through the regular immigration process, that you’ve gone through customs, and that the U.S. government has had the opportunity to inspect you.

There are also people who are referred to as EWI: entered without inspection. This means that they have entered the country without inspection—such as by sneaking into the country—and the government doesn’t know they are here and didn’t make the decision as to whether or not they could come here.

Some people think that getting married can solve this issue, but marriage doesn’t solve the entry without inspection process. Sadly, we frequently receive calls from people who have a spouse who snuck into the country and is now getting deported. In many cases, we cannot do much for them. The decision depends heavily on the circumstances of the person, how long he or she has been here, and whether he or she violated any laws while here.

Marrying a U.S. citizen or having a U.S. citizen child—commonly referred to as an anchor baby—is really a myth. It’s a factor that can be considered when someone is fighting deportation, but for the most part, marrying a U.S. citizen or having a child after entering the country without inspection does not keep you here.

If you are facing deportation because of EWI, our St. Louis immigration lawyers may be able to help. Call 314-961-8200 to schedule a consultation.

VIDEO: St. Louis Immigration Lawyer Defines Deportation

Are you afraid of being deported? Do you know what that really means? In this video, St. Louis deportation lawyer Jim Hacking explains what happens during the deportation process.

The deportation process starts when you receive a notice to appear. The notice to appear will outline why the government thinks you should be deported. There could be a number of reasons why they believe you should be deported, including that you’ve entered the country without inspection, that you overstayed your visa, that you never had the authorization to work and you’ve been working without authorization, or that you’ve committed some kind of crime while you were here.

Depending upon the reason for deportation, you may or may not be placed in jail. If you have any kind of criminal activity in your background except minor fights or small charges, you will be spending a lot of time in jail during your deportation proceedings.

If you’ve received a notice to appear and are afraid of being deported, don’t let the time pass. Call a St. Louis deportation attorney at 314.961.8200 immediately to find out how we can help you.

VIDEO: St. Louis Immigration Lawyer Explains: “What is DACA?”

Do you keep hearing about DACA, but don’t understand how it affects you—or even what it is in the first place? In this informative video, St. Louis immigration attorney Jim Hacking explains everything you need to know about DACA.

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” and is a discretionary determination to defer deportation for individuals who came to the United States when they were under the age of 16 through no fault of their own.

This discretionary determination protects children who have grown up in the United States from deportation proceedings. DACA provides a two-year relief from deportation, and also offers the ability for the individual to obtain a work permit.

Regardless of what some people may believe, DACA is not amnesty. Applicants are not granted a green card and do not have legal rights to remain in the country. They are not immune from deportation; they’re only given a reprieve from current deportation hearings.

If you are considering applying for DACA, you need to consult with a St. Louis immigration attorney. It may not be the best option for you, especially if you have some type of criminal history. Another reason not to seek DACA determination is to protect other family members who may be out of status. Call our office at 314.961.8200 to learn more about your options.

VIDEO: What Happens at a Deportation Individual Merits Hearing?

If you’re facing deportation, you will eventually have to attend an individual merits hearing. As St. Louis deportation attorney Jim Hacking explains, this hearing does not have to be as scary as it sounds—as long as you have someone on your side who knows the way out.

The individual merits hearing is a trial on whether or not someone is going to be deported. Your counsel will then be given the opportunity to dispute or refute any of those reasons, as well as explain applications for discretionary relief, which are certain circumstances in which you may be allowed to stay in the United States, even if you are deportable.

Many times, the immigration services will put someone into removal proceedings, even if there is a legal way for them to get out. Sometimes, there is even more than one way out of deportation, but they aren’t going to tell you what to do. Hiring an experienced St. Louis immigration attorney is extremely important during these situations, since we can spot the issues and figure out ways for you to stay in the United States.

If you’re facing the possibility of deportation proceedings, you need to fight back. Contact St. Louis deportation lawyer Jim Hacking to learn how he can help you.

VIDEO: Charged with a Crime? Contact a St. Louis Deportation Lawyer

A vast majority of people who come to our office and are facing deportation could have become citizens long ago, but because they or their family members never filed the necessary paperwork, they never became citizens. Then, down the road, they plead guilty to a minor charge and are now faced with the possibility of deportation.

Taking a few moments to fill out forms could have saved you months in jail, and now you’re facing deportation because of a minor offense like a drug charge or bounced check. If you’re facing criminal charges on top of deportation, you’ll need to work with a criminal defense attorney.

A good criminal defense attorney knows that if he has a non-citizen client, he needs to work with an experienced immigration attorney. If he doesn’t, the client may show up at his probation hearing only to be faced with deportation agents who are deporting him for the crime, for which his criminal defense attorney told him he would not be deported.

Because criminal defense attorneys aren’t always going to consult with an immigration attorney, you should always call an immigration attorney first. Let the immigration attorney work with criminal defense council to make sure that—if at all possible—you enter into a plea that is going to give you the best chance to stay in the country.

Contact a St. Louis deportation attorney at Hacking Law Practice for more information about how we can help you. h

VIDEO: Can a Waiver Keep You from Being Deported?

Are you facing deportation but believe that you may be eligible for a waiver? What is a waiver, anyway, and can it really help with your situation? In this video, St. Louis immigration attorney Jim Hacking explains how a waiver can help you and what you need to do in order to make sure you present the best possible case.

Sometimes, people may be deemed inadmissible for a minor crime, for overstaying their visas, or even for working without authorization. In situations such as these, a waiver is a very helpful and effective way to stay in the country.

A waiver is granted at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. It is a very important tool in an immigration attorney’s toolbox that allows them to fashion a relief for the person. Yes, the person may have committed a minor crime and, yes, he or she may be inadmissible for this relatively minor thing. The waiver allows the person to stay in the country despite the fact that he or she has done this relatively minor thing.

While waivers may sound like the answer to all problems, they do to not apply to major crimes.

If you are facing deportation and feel that you may be eligible for a waiver, a St. Louis deportation attorney may be able to help. Call Hacking Law Practice at 314.961.8200 to learn more about how a waiver can help you.

VIDEO: Are You Being Deported Because You Pleaded Guilty to a Crime?

A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court handed down a case called Padilla versus Kentucky. It’s a very important case in both the criminal and deportation contexts because, in that case, the Supreme Court said that if you plead guilty to a crime and are a noncitizen, and if you did not know that you would be deported as a result of that crime, you have the opportunity to go back to the state court or the federal sentencing court to ask the judge to undo the conviction that now renders you deportable.

We’ve been involved in deportation proceedings in which we have taken on our clients’ representation not only in the deportation case itself, but have also gone back to the state or federal criminal court and tried to undo the conviction based on the Supreme Court case. In these cases, the defendant was never given the opportunity to make what’s called a “knowing and voluntary decision” to plead guilty to the crime—because no one ever told them that they would be deported.

If we can undo the plea and the conviction goes away, there’s no basis for the deportation. We’ve had plenty of clients who were let out of jail because we were able to undo the conviction that was underlying the deportation case itself, so let us help you! Call a St. Louis deportation attorney at Hacking Law Firm to find out how we can help you.