President Barack Obama and his administration are on pace to deport more than three million undocumented immigrants by the end of his second term, according to Washington DC-based think tank the Pew Research Center. That number would represent the most deportations for any president in history, better than one million more than George W. Bush and more than two million more than Bill Clinton.
While there is great rhetoric about the want and need for immigration reform from the Obama administration, based on his track record, undocumented immigrants can’t count on Obama to keep them here.
Many people come to this country in search of a better life for their children and in search of opportunities that don’t exist in their native countries. However, without attaining proper immigration papers, a process that takes years to complete, deportation remains a very real threat for immigrants who have been convicted of even minor, non-violent crimes.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, and have been charged with an “aggravated felony,” you can be deported and restricted from reentering the United States for 20 years. When the term was first introduced in 1988, aggravated felonies referred to violent crimes like murder, and serious offenses like drug trafficking. In 1996, in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, more than 20 crimes were added to the list of aggravated felonies.
Some of these crimes included non-violent offenses, such as counterfeit, obstruction of justice and perjury. If you are sentenced to one year or more in prison for one of these “aggravated assaults,” you could be instantly eligible for deportation. This is especially difficult for immigrants who don’t speak English well, because they may not understand their rights. This leads to spouses being torn apart and families being forcibly separated.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, there are some steps you may be able to take to help protect yourself from deportation:
- Waivers of Removal: There are certain circumstances in which a judge can waive the order of deportation or removal. Based on the type of crime and how many prior convictions the immigrant has, if the removal would create hardship and other factors, a judge may rule against deportation.
- Political Asylum: If it can be proven that there is reasonable fear of persecution based on race, sex, religion, political opinion or nationality, political asylum may be granted.
- Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents: If a person is in a removal hearing, they’ve been a morally upstanding citizen for 10 years and their removal would result in extreme hardship for their family (in the United States), they may be granted a green card.
- U-Visa & T-Visa: These are visas which can be applied for by immigrant victims. If an undocumented immigrant is a victim of a violent crime, they may apply for temporary residential and work visas. The same applies for the T-visa, which applies to undocumented immigrants who were victims of human trafficking.
If you or a loved one is currently living as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., there are provisions to ensure that you and your family aren’t forcibly ripped apart. Speak to the highly qualified immigration attorneys at Team Law to learn your rights and understand your options: call 732-388-5454 or email us here.