5BE4E053-A779-4BA9-AC75-AD273202E118The United States Supreme Court recently released a decision on June 13th, 2022 that will allow for prolonged detention of certain noncitizens who have a removal order, without the benefit of judicial review.  This decision is an unwelcome blow to those that have been held in custody for periods longer than six months because they will not be able to obtain a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge. The decision whether to continue detention or to release them on terms of supervision will remain with ICE.  

§241(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the detention of noncitizens who have deportation orders against them.  Under that provision, the noncitizen is supposed to be detained and removed within a period of 90 days.  This is known as the “removal period.”  §241(a)(6) provides that after the 90 day removal period, certain noncitizens may be detained or released on terms of supervision.  Any noncitizen not enumerated under §241(a)(6) that has not been removed within 90 days must be released.

§241(a)(6) allows the continued detention of noncitizens who (1) are inadmissible on certain grounds, (2) are removable on certain grounds, (3) are a risk to the community, or (4) are unlikely to comply with an order of removal.  The problem with this provision is that it does not state how long a noncitizen can be detained past the 90 day removal period.  Six months?  A year? Ten years?  Some courts have dealt with this issue by authorizing a bond hearing after six months in custody.  Such was the case here, in Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez.  

AdobeStock_398838474-300x225Today, the Eleventh Circuit released what looks like may be a landmark decision in Said v. U.S. Atty Gen’l.  This court opinion affects all non-citizens who have or will have Florida marijuana convictions.  Under §212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, any alien who commits a violation of any state law or regulation relating to a controlled substance, as defined in 21 U.S.C. §802, is inadmissible.  Under §237(a)(2)(B), any alien who at any time after admission has been convicted of a violation of any law or regulation of a State…relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of title 21), other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana is deportable.  So, prior to this decision, most non-citizens with marijuana convictions were deportable and/or inadmissible with the only possible exception being for a single possession of 30 grams of marijuana or less.

But in order for a marijuana conviction to qualify as a deportable offense or a crime of inadmissibility, marijuana, as defined under Florida law must qualify as a controlled substance, as defined under Federal law in 21 U.S.C. §802.  And that is exactly what the Eleventh Circuit analyzed in Said.  In Said, the Court looked at the definition of marijuana (or cannabis, as it is referred to in the Florida Statute) in Fla. Stat. §893.02(3) and the definition of marijuana under Federal law in 21 U.S.C. §802(16) to determine whether they were a match.

The Eleventh Circuit determined that the Florida definition of marijuana is broader than the federal definition.  Florida includes the mature stalk of the marijuanaAdobeStock_348186656-Converted-300x176 plant in its definition.  Federal law does not.  Therefore, a person could be convicted of a marijuana offense in Florida that involved only the mature stalk of the plant.  However, that same person could not be convicted under Federal Law.  So, it appears that a violation of Florida’s law relating to a controlled substance (marijuana) is not “as defined in 21 U.S.C. §802.”

The process of bringing your foreign fiancé to the U.S. can be challenging and difficult to navigate, as there are several requirements. A great first step you can take to jumpstart a life together with your significant other in the U.S. is to understand the legal requirements associated with bringing your fiancé to the U.S. and the initial steps of the process. 

1. Meet the Requirements

AdobeStock_406909314-300x225

In order to apply, you as the applicant or petitioner must meet the following requirements:

AdobeStock_483211582-300x200If you have a family member seeking permanent residence in the U.S., you may be able to help them apply for a green card. A green card allows people with a legally recognized relationship to live, work and attend school in the U.S. without needing a work visa or a student visa. 

However, the process does not come easy and can take more or less time depending on your family’s specific situation and ability to meet specific eligibility requirements. Whether you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident looking to petition for a family member, there are options that may be available.

Here are some of the ways you can get started with helping your non-citizen family member to apply for a green card:

Florida Immigration Law Racially Motivated, According to Federal JudgeAdobeStock_269451886-scaled

Portions of Florida’s immigration enforcement law that was a priority for Republican governor Ron DeSantis has been struck down by a federal judge, according to a report published by the Associated Press (AP). U.S. Federal Judge Beth Bloom rejected the sections of the law banning local government sanctuary policies as well as those requiring local law enforcement to make best efforts to coordinate with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill, which was pushed as a priority for his administration, into law in 2019. The governor’s office told news outlets that it would appeal Judge Bloom’s decision.

This is not the first time DeSantis has been challenged on laws passed during his administration. Others include state orders to ban mask mandates in schools, new election rules making vote-by-mail more difficult, and limits on contributions to groups seeking to change the Florida constitution, among others. 

Refugee-silhouette-Converted-300x61

Fee Exemptions, Streamlined Process for Afghan Nationals Resettling in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently announced that filing fees will be exempted and application processing will be streamlined for Afghan nationals who were paroled into America for humanitarian reasons on or after July 30, 2021. This decision by the DHS will help to facilitate the resettlement of Afghan nationals in the United States by streamlining the processes of several requests including those for work authorizations, Green Cards, and other relevant services according to the federal agency.

Operation Allies Welcome

The Eleventh Circuit recently denied a petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, effectively ending a Sri Lanka citizen’s asylum case.  In Senthooran Murugan vs. U.S. Attorney General, No. 19-13715 (August 24, 2021), a Sri Lankan citizen, Senthooran Murugan, fled Sri Lanka and entered the United States with the intent to seek asylum.  He was issued a notice to appear in removal proceedings and his case was heard before an immigration judge.

During the removal hearing, Mr. Murugan applied for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT (Convention against Torture) relief.  Mr. Murugan testified that he had been persecuted based on his membership in a particular social group (Tamils) and based on imputed political opinion.  Mr. Murugan testified that he had been arrested on three occasions in Sri Lanka and on one occasion he was held for four hours and slapped and kicked by soldiers.  Mr. Murugan testified that he thought he was going to die.

The immigration judge denied Mr. Murugan’s asylum, withholding and CAT claims and ordered him removed.  Mr. Murugan appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, who affirmed the immigration judge’s decision.  Mr. Murugan then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

What is a Petition for Review?

             A petition for review (PFR) is a pleading that you may file in federal Circuit Court if you disagree with a decision regarding a removal or deportation order issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In most cases, you cannot appeal a decision of an immigration judge directly to the Circuit Courts, you have to appeal to the BIA first and then if you lose, you can file a PFR with the Circuit Court.

images
Can I File a Petition for Review?

USCIS—the government agency that receives most of the country’s asylum applications—has opened a new office in Tampa, Florida. Before this happened, everyone who was not in immigration court and who applied for asylum in the entire state of Florida had to go to Miami for their asylum interview. Sure there were exceptions, on occasion, asylum officers would go to Jacksonville, Florida to conduct interviews, but those interviews were few and far between.

Now, people from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Tampa no longer have to make the long and expensive trip to Miami for an asylum interview. Now, people from the Tampa Bay area, parts of Central and all of North Florida will head to Tampa for their interviews to see if they will be granted asylum. This is great news for everyone involved. This will make it easier for asylum applicants to travel to their interviews, this will make asylum interviews happen more frequently for all Floridians as there are now two offices and more officers conducting interviews. This will also make it more cost-effective for asylum applicants to bring their attorneys to their asylum interviews.

tampa-suburbs
USCIS has not yet released all the details or the exact geographical boundaries for the Tampa asylum office. What we do know is they are already open as of June, 2021 and they are already conducting interviews. The office is in the same building as ICE, so if you have been reporting to the Tampa ICE office for check-ins and you are called for an asylum interview, you will go to the same building. The address of the office is 524 W Cypress St, Tampa, Florida, 33607 right near the Tampa International Airport.

What is Prosecutorial Discretion?

            Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of government immigration agencies to determine how to use its resources (tax payer’s money) to enforce the law. This means that ICE attorneys may choose not to pursue certain immigration enforcement actions, such as arrests, detentions, or deportations, in particular cases.

90
How can Prosecutorial Discretion Help Me?

Contact Information