215 W. 18th Street, Suite 101
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
Phone: 816.753.7382 • Fax: 816.605.1129


Week after week I sit in my office and listen to young men and women tell me about the problems they face, where the alien spouse or boyfriend was born abroad and brought to the United States as a young child. They then grew up here, went to High School, settled down, had some kids, and now face deportation. Why? Well, because the law was changed in 1996 to require them to show “extremely unusual hardship” to those kids if they are deported. While there is no real definition of this level of hardship - it is clear that it requires a showing of hardship that is rare. In other words, most of these young people won’t qualify for relief and so, even though they have been here for years, playing by the rules, enriching our society, and building new families here. It also makes little sense to send people educated in the United States to other countries who will then reap the benefit of their knowledge.

 

There are potential solutions out there right now in the United States House and Senate, that you can call on your representatives to support. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, also known as H.R. 1751, the “American Dream Act”, and S.729, the “DREAM Act of 2009” is currently pending. For more information, please go to this website.

 

These kids deserve a path - they were brought here against their will as children, often in dangerous ways, and it should not be held against them. In order to qualify for permanent residence under the DREAM Act, they would have to have come to the United States before they  turned 16, been here for five years since entry, complied with selective service requirements, not be younger than 12 or older than 35 when the bill is enacted, have graduated from a U.S. High School, been accepted into an institution of higher education or obtained their GED, and be of good moral character.  Once approved, the alien would receive conditional residence for six years, during which time they would need to establish that they have completed two years of either college education or military service.

Beginning in August 2010, all non-detained removal cases from St. Louis will be moved to the Kanas City Immigration Court. Previously, the St. Louis cases were handled by televideo from the Immigration Court in Oakdale, Louisiana. The Department of Homeland Security office which housed the televideo courtroom in St. Louis will no longer house non-detained hearings. Any new non-detained cases arising in St. Louis will be handled in Kansas City.  This is a huge change in procedures, and is likely to lead to a significant backlog in cases in Kansas City, as well as the difficulty in those from St. Louis coming to Kansas City for hearings. 

A large part of our practice involves representing individuals before the Immigration Court, and we could of course take on cases from St. Louis as well.  Already, the Kansas City Immigration Court has jurisdiction over all cases arising out of the entire state of Kansas, and the Western half of Missouri.  After the new procedures are in place, the court will take on all cases from Kansas and all of Missouri, except for detained cases from Eastern Missouri.

Our office is a mile away from the Kansas City Immigration Court, and we would be happy to assist any individuals from the St. Louis area with their deportation cases. Here is the FAQ from the Kansas City Immigration Court:


This is difficult, yet important advice that I give to aliens and their criminal attorneys all the time when consider the best outcome for them in terms of the immigration consequences. Sometimes it really is better to spend a little time in jail in order to get the prosecutor to agree to a more lenient sentence, or even to remove specific charges in order to avoid deportation when the criminal process is over. Today I spoke to the Johnson County, Kansas Bar Association, 2010 Herbert W. Walton Bench/Bar Conference, on the topic of the “Intersection of criminal and immigration law, what criminal lawyers and judges need to know when they have a foreign-born defendant.” A key part of that presentation were the following five major considerations for criminal attorneys:

Top 5 things you should keep in mind when dealing with an alien in criminal proceedings.

  1. Always double-check the possibility of your client being a United States citizen, or contact immigration counsel to check - particularly if either or both of their parents are Citizens of the United States.
  2. Make sure your client doesn't admit the facts that constitute the crime in any plea agreements.
  3. Key time periods: maximum POSSIBLE sentence of more than one year (CIMT); sentenced to one year or more (many of the Aggravated Felony definitions); and five years cumulative sentence (multiple CIMTs, multiple offenses Aggravated Felonies).
  4. Sometimes you need to offer a few days/months of actual jail time (shock time) in order to get a deal that will result in avoiding removability or inadmissibility.
  5. Challenge their immigration arrest if possible. 5th Amendment protections against statements made under duress or coercion apply in immigration proceedings, though generally not 4th amendment protections.

The United States Supreme Court has not always made the best decisions regarding the rights of Immigrants in either immigration or criminal courts. However, the recent decision in Padilla v. Kentucky does go a long way to insure the rights of aliens in criminal proceedings.  What the Court holds is that criminal attorneys are required to provide competent immigration advice to criminal clients:

It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant—whether a citizen or not—is left to the “mercies of incompetent counsel.” Richardson, 397 U. S., at 771. To satisfy this responsibility, we now hold that counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation. Our longstanding Sixth Amendment precedents, the seriousness of deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, and the concomitant impact of deportation on families living lawfully in this country demand no less.

 

Because of this, there will likely be a large amount of cases reopened for the ineffective assistance of criminal attorneys who did NOT provide information about a plea agreements' impact on their immigration status. This kind of motion could lead to a new criminal or immigration proceedings, to allow aliens a chance to reconsider the plea agreement with full knowledge of the immigration consequences.

For this reason, it is vitally important that all immigrants (including those with no status, some status, or permanent residence), and all criminal attorneys who have cases involving immigrants, contact competent immigration counsel to determine what the impact of a proposed plea agreement will be. This is something that I have a lot of experience with, and would be happy to discuss with criminal counsel or immigrants in criminal proceedings.  Click on the "Contact Us" tab above for information.

 

 

 

 

The United States was founded by immigrants coming for work, for freedom of religion, and to escape other forms of persecution. The travails of immigrants, migrant workers, organized labor, and the working class have often been intricately linked. Recent developments have highlighted abuses against immigrants in the form of labor rights violations, illicit human trafficking, and constitutional violations in arrests and detention. Below we will examine a series of reports, articles, lawsuits, and court decisions which  viewed together paint a picture of the way labor and enforcement issues are closely linked. In crafting a new way forward in immigration policy, protecting the most vulnerable in our society should be our primary focus. The great Woody Guthrie wrote poignant and powerful songs about the plight of the working man, and he included immigrants, migrant workers, miners, and any other laborers together, and saw strength in their unity. This is particularly important, as he wrote these songs about the time in and immediately after the Great Depression, where, even in the face of high unemployment, some migrant workers and labor organizations saw foreign and U.S. migrant workers as equals.

“As I went walking I saw a sign there and on the sign it said ‘No Trespassing.’ But on the other side it didn't say nothing. That side was made for you and me.” This Land is your Land, by Woody Guthrie.

Recently, a Missouri state court judge ordered the State to pay damages to a business owner who was stripped of his state contracts in violation of state law. Asamoah-Boadu v. State of Missouri, 07AC-CC000983, (Circuit Court of Cole County, 11/25/2009). A private cleaning company held contracts with the Office of Administration to clean state office buildings. The owner hired individuals and presented their information to the state for verification, in addition to the regular I-9 process all employers are required to follow. In early 2007, the federal immigration authorities raided the offices and arrested 25 employees of his which were not properly documented. Even though he had submitted their information and they were approved by the State, the state cancelled his contracts as a form of punishment.

The former governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt issued an Executive Order in 2007, which stated that if a contractor employs any unauthorized workers, they will be in breach of the state contracts. That was the same day the federal immigration raid of state offices took place. It is hard to believe the two were not somehow related. The former administration of Missouri seemed to want to make a statement. However, their complete misunderstanding of immigration laws, which provide for punishments of specific violations of immigration-related employment laws, lead to this decision repudiating their actions.

Federal immigration laws punish those who “knowingly” employ those without authorization, while Governor Blunt’s order created punishments for those who violate federal immigration laws, but it did not contain the “knowingly” clause. Therefore, the state inappropriately found the owner here to have violated federal immigration law, even though the state did not require a showing that the violations were “knowing”.

The court in this case clearly repudiated the state’s actions, and rightly so. The then-governor was acting in a climate of intense anti-immigrant sentiment, and acted in violation of the law. The court pointed out finally that the governor’s order can not repeal an act of the state’s congress. The state of Missouri had passed a law authorizing the stripping of contracts when the employer knowingly violated federal immigration laws. The governor’s order was an attempt to toughen the state’s stance on immigration violations, without passing a law to change the “knowingly” requirement.  

There are many examples of local enforcement of immigration laws, which similarly misunderstand the federal immigration provisions. Many immigrants in Missouri have run into problems in the last few years obtaining driver’s licenses, even when they are here with authorization, etc., because either the contractors at the DMV offices don’t understand the documents presented, or the computer system they use is not up-to-date in their case. Again, this results in the state denying benefits to individuals based on a federal issue - their immigration status.  

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