Articles Tagged with immigration law

A young man named Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, 23, who may be the first “dreamer” to be deported under the Trump administration, has filed what could be the first “dreamer” lawsuit against the administration in San Diego federal court. The lawsuit demands the government release information about his case under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to find out why he was deported.

Mr. Montes was deported back to Mexico after being stopped by a border officer on a bike in Calexico on February 17th. He did not have any ID on him when he was detained. It is reported that Montes was not given an opportunity to see an immigration judge or attorney, and that he was escorted across the border in Mexicali without the copies of the papers that he signed. After he was removed to Mexico, the lawsuit claims that Montes was robbed in Mexicali at knifepoint of a suitcase of clothing. He snuck back in to the U.S. the next day with his wallet, and then turned himself to CBP. He was detained once again and deported back to Mexico. Montes has been living with family in Mexico since.

According to his attorneys, Mr. Montes came to the U.S. when he was 9 years old and since 2014 has been able to legally live and work in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. According to the Department of Homeland Security, his DACA status had expired, and an illegal entry into the U.S. and a prior conviction for theft put his status in question. Montes has a minor traffic offense and one misdemeanor offense.

This November, California voters will choose whether they want to legalize marijuana. California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative (also referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act), will be on the state’s November 8, 2016, ballot as an initiated state statute.  

However, it is reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, that non-citizens, immigrants, legal and undocumented alike, and green-card holders may still face legal consequences for using marijuana. This includes having their citizenship blocked or getting deported and not being allowed back into the country. This is because despite potential state law being enacted, using marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This affects immigrants who are trying to attain citizenship through the federal process.

Currently, almost 13% of San Diego county residents are not U.S. citizens. This is much higher than the national average, which is 7%.    

Current California Marijuana Law

Currently, possession of marijuana for personal use only carries a maximum of six months in jail. See Ca. Health and Safety Code 11357.  Often defendants will plead down to that charge instead of pleading guilty to a charge of ‘marijuana possession for the purpose of sale,’ which carries a three-year prison sentence. See Ca. Health and Safety Code 11359. However, pleading guilty to either crime is still a deportable offense if you are a non-US citizen.

Under federal law, the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) allows for the deportation of non-U.S. citizens if they have violated the Controlled Substances Act.  See INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i); 8 USC 1227(a)(2)(B)(i). This is why it is extremely important for all non-citizens facing criminal charges to hire an attorney who can strategize the best defenses for his or her specific situation.

Back in 2015, Assemblywoman Susan Eggman proposed Assembly Bill (A.B.) 1351, which would allow immigrants facing minor drug offenses to enter a drug diversion program in lieu of the standard criminal process. It would have made it so that immigrant defendants with no previous history of drug crimes would be allowed to enter a drug treatment program and undergo drug counseling before they enter a plea. If they successfully finish the program, drug charges are dismissed, leaving no criminal record to taint their immigration process. However, the bill has not yet been passed into law. Continue reading

Earlier this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 112 fugitives on the run from the law across the San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties during a special operation that aimed to round up some of what the agency considered the most serious offenders. More than half of those arrested had been convicted of serious and violent offenses such as child sex crimes, weapons violations, and assault. The others had convictions for serious or multiple misdemeanors. The majority of those arrested, including 46 year old Carlos David Martin Ojeda, were also undocumented immigrants being returned back to Mexico.

Ojeda was convicted in 2014 of lewd and lascivious acts on a girl under age 14, but only served two out of the years of his sentence due to the overcrowding of the California prison system. If he does not object to his deportation when he sees an immigration judge, he may be put on a bus from the detention center back to Mexico. If he does object and asks for and is granted bail, Ojeda could remain in the U.S. for three to four more years before his case is resolved.

California’s Extradition Laws

The family of Kathryn Steinle, the woman who was gunned down and killed while walking along San Francisco Pier last year, has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city of San Francisco and other government agencies after the city re-affirmed its “sanctuary city” policy to shelter illegal aliens, including criminals, from deportation. Last July, 32-year-old Stein was walking with her father when she was shot and killed by an illegal alien, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez who was under the influence of drugs. Sanchez had already been convicted of seven felonies and deported five times to Mexico at the time of the murder.

It is reported that the city, former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  (ICE) are the named parties of the lawsuit. It alleges that officials allowed Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant to repeatedly go free, obtain a gun, and kill her. It is also reported that the lawsuit focuses largely on a memorandum issued in March 2015 by ex-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who prevented local authorities from communicating with ICE. The city’s Sheriff’s Department had released Sanchez without notifying immigration officials after his prior arrests and convictions.

Sanchez has been charged with murder, but it is reported that his defense attorneys will be arguing the shooting was the result of an accidental ricochet.

As the focus on ‘border security’ has increased in the platforms of presidential candidates for the 2016 election, the federal government has also ramped up its efforts to deport immigrants who have committed crimes or pose a threat to public safety. This September, immigration authorities in Southern California arrested more than 240 people with criminal records during a four-day sting. Los Angeles County accounted for the largest number of arrests with 99, followed by Orange County at 55, San Bernardino County with 43, Riverside County with 24, Santa Barbara County with 20, and San Luis Obispo County with three. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities said over half of those arrested had felony convictions or multiple misdemeanor convictions. Eight out of 10 are from Mexico. Those who are not criminally prosecuted will be placed in deportation proceedings. The sting comes as the federal government butts heads with local state governments that have resisted in cooperating on immigration enforcement.

California Immigration Enforcement

California does not require state or local law enforcement officers to check the immigration status during traffic stops or similar circumstances. Additionally, California allows for in-state tuition for illegal aliens in California-funded state universities, driver’s licenses for those here illegally, and state-funded healthcare for children. Additionally, due to a statewide law passed in 2013, local law enforcement officials are prohibited from detaining immigrants for longer than necessary on minor offenses so that they can be turned over to federal officials for possible deportation. This year a bill has been introduced to allow work permits to farmworkers living in the U.S. illegally.

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