Under section 101(a)(43)(S) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) “an offense relating to obstruction of justice, perjury or subornation of perjury, or bribery of a witness, for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year”, INA §101(a)(43)(S), constitutes an aggravated felony. INA §101(a)(43)(S). However, the INA fails to define the phrase “an offense relating to obstruction of justice.” The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently used its authority to interpret statutes to conclude “accessory after the fact offenses necessarily relate to obstruction of justice within the meaning of section of 101(a)(43)(S) of the Act[.]” Matter of Valenzuela Gallardo, 25 I&N Dec. 838, 844 (BIA 2012).
On June 24, 2012, the Annual NYC Gay Pride Parade sailed down Fifth Avenue to the Greenwich Village where the gay liberation movement was born in 1969. This year a group of Russian-speaking LGBT persons and their supporters marched in the Pride Parade, brought together by the RUSA LGBT – Russian-Speaking American LGBT Association – a New York City based organization which unites and supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender/transsexual immigrants from the countries of the former U.S.S.R.
According to a poll conducted by the web-portal GayRussia.Ru – Russia’s leading online community for LGBT persons and their supporters – 65% of the respondents indicated that they would like to emigrate from Russia to a country which is safer and more respectful of its LGBT citizens. Some 27 % of the respondents indicated that they had no desire to leave Russia, while the remaining 5 and 3% of the respondents pointed out that they either already left Russia or never lived in Russia in the first place.
Criminal convictions are always problematic for aliens. At the very least, a criminal conviction is a negative factor requiring an alien to show equities. However, criminal convictions can often result in an alien being found inadmissible and/or removable from the United States. The relief available to aliens who are inadmissible and/or removable due to criminal convictions is limited. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recent precedent decisions are making it more and more difficult for aliens who are inadmissible and/or removable due to criminal convictions.
The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently limited the availability of the INA§212(h) waiver to lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of aggravated felonies. The Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits have previously held an aggravated felony conviction disqualifies an alien from a waiver under INA §212(h) only if the conviction occurred after the alien was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident following inspection at a port of entry. See Bracamontes v. Holder, 2012 WL 1037479 (4th Cir. 2012); Martinez v. Mukasey, 519 F.3d 532 (5th Cir. 2008); and Lanier v. U.S. Attorney General, 631 F.3d 1363 (11th Cir. 2011). In Martinez, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held
On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced a deferred action process for young aliens considered low enforcement priorities. This is effectively an expansion of prior efforts by the Obama Administration to focus on public safety, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has concentrated its limited resources on the removal of aliens that pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, including aliens who have been convicted of crimes, with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders. At the same time, DHS has determined it will exercise prosecutorial discretion when dealing with low priority cases such as aliens who were brought into the United States as children and who have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanor offenses.
Cancellation of removal is a form of relief available to certain permanent residents and non-permanent residents in removal proceedings before the Immigration Judge. A non-permanent resident may seek cancellation of removal if the alien has been in the United States continuously for at least ten (10) years, is a person of good moral character, and can establish that his or her removal would result in “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to the alien’s United States citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent, or child. A “child” is defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as “an unmarried person under twenty-one years of age.” INA §101(b)(1). In the Matter of Valentin Isidro-Zamorano, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently addressed how to handle an application of cancellation of removal where the son or daughter met the definition of a “child” when the application was filed with the Immigration Court, but subsequently turned twenty-one (21) before the Immigration Judge was able to adjudicate the application on the merits, which resulted in the alien no longer having a qualifying relative under section 240A(b)(1)(D) of the INA. See Matter of Valentin Isidro-Zamorano, 25 I&N Dec. 829 (BIA 2012).
I often run into this question asked by my clients: Can an individual who has overstayed his original visa in the USA or otherwise been present illegally in the USA for many years, travel abroad and return to pursue adjustment of status application, which had been pending with USCIS on the day of the travel? For years, the answer I would give had been a resounding NO! Well, it may no longer be necessarily so. Historically, DHS’s position on this issue has been that such individual would be ineligible for admission to the USA, including adjustment of status, on the grounds of the inadmissibility bars set forth in INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II). Consequently, many of such individuals would inevitably end up in removal proceedings before an immigration judge, having been charged with the inadmissibility.
Criminal convictions can have serious consequences for aliens. When a non-citizen is arrested for any criminal violation, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney especially before accepting a plea bargain. The goal in criminal proceedings is often to minimize the punishment. However, in the immigration context, the initial focus is typically on the language of the criminal statute the alien has been convicted of violating. The immigration courts have adopted two approaches for determining whether an offense prohibited by the criminal statute the alien is convicted of violating comes within a specific ground of removability.
Tunisia: The Spring Has Passed, But Is It Summer Yet?
It was in December of 2010 in Tunisia where a popular uprising has ousted a long despised dictatorship, and shortly an avalanche of protests has spread across the Arab world, eventually expelling the once seemingly omnipotent tyrannies in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. This unprecedented chain of long-awaited change across the region was aptly titled ‘The Arab Spring’, and it continues to reverberate violently in many other nations, including Syria, Bahrain, Algeria and Morocco. Many in the West were initially quite hopeful and enthusiastic about what seemed to be a sudden eruption of popular and pro-democracy resistance to the ruthless tyrants of the Arab world; many, however, remained cautious in their predictions and expectations, arguing that the new victorious forces supported by the populace could not necessarily be that open to modernization and promotion of human rights and freedoms after all.