Don’t call the cops on your immigrant relative. Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I want to talk to you today about the intersection again of criminal law and immigration law, and I want to remind you that immigrants are held to a higher standard. Immigrants can get in more serious trouble for minor criminal offenses and that you have to take that into consideration when you are thinking about calling the police on an immigrant loved one. Now, I am not saying that anyone should put themselves at risk of getting injured or killed or anything violent, but I think that often we see situations where people call the police, usually on a teenage child who is an immigrant and is not a US citizen, and the parents think that this will solve their problem, that this will make the police straighten the kid out, that the kid needs some tough love or whatever.
But from a purely immigration standpoint, this is a really bad idea. From a purely immigration standpoint, you could be setting up your son or daughter or your husband or wife or whatever family member they are for longterm immigration problems. And so you always have to remember that immigrants are treated differently in the immigration system when it comes to crimes. And what do I mean by that? Well, I mean that when a citizen pleads guilty to a crime or is convicted of a crime, they might not get any jail time, they might have a suspended sentence, they might have all kinds of protections that are not there for immigrants. And so when an immigrant is charged with a crime that can make their whole life unravel, that can cause them to get into deportation proceedings, or it might prevent them from being able to get a green card later.
So you really need to think through, is this something worthwhile? Is this something that I should be calling the police on? Now you might be saying to yourself, “Jim, who in the world would ever call the police on their immigrant child?” And you’d be surprised how often we’ve seen this. And so I just wanted to shoot this video so that you think it through, that you make a good decision. Now again, safety’s first and you got to protect yourself and protect your family, but at the same time, if it’s something minor or something that can be avoided without calling the police, then we really suggest that that’s what you do.
So I know it’s a fine line. I have three teenage children and one who’s about to be a teenager. It’s very frustrating. You can be very angry at times, the way these kids act out, but you really have to remember that your immigrant child or your immigrant spouse is not the same as everybody else and you really need to think through, do I want to talk to the police about this particular situation? When it comes to immigration and the criminal law, the police are not your friends, necessarily. They can be, to help protect you, but generally you really need to think through from point A to point Z, all the possible consequences of involving law enforcement.
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