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State and Federal Criminal Defense Representation

The Immigration Conundrum


The New York Times reported today that 300 illegal immigrants who had been convicted of “serious or violent crimes” were arrested in Los Angeles today. At least 100 have been removed from the country and others are awaiting deportation proceedings. An assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security said, “These are not people who we want walking our streets.”

But that’s not the whole story.

Illegal immigrants are arrested everyday. They are usually individuals who have lived here for years. Most of them have families, wives, parents, and children here. They have jobs and most of them have no ties to their home countries. Many of them had a green card at some point in time but lost it due to a conviction. Many convictions that are deemed minor in any other circumstance are deemed “aggravated felonies” for purposes of immigration. These individuals are deported upon their release from incarceration for their criminal offense. When they return to the U.S., which most of them do because their families are here, they are arrested at some point for what we call “illegal re-entry.” They are appointed a lawyer and spend from 18 months to 57 months in Federal Prison before being released to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement who holds them for up to 90 days before dropping them off at the other side of the border where they have nothing and no one. How many millions of dollars are we spending prosecuting and incarcerating these individuals? Yes. A message must be sent so they don’t just return ad infinitum but is this really the solution?

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