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Baton Rouge Legal Blog

Teenager tries to secure step-dad's immigration detention release

A 15-year-old boy in another state recently had a less-than-typical school day. The day began rather uneventfully; in fact, he got up at his usual early-morning time to go to school to lift weights with his football teammates as many Louisiana high school students also do. Sometime during third period, however, he received news that caused him to worry. His stepfather worked a local concrete company that was reportedly the subject of a federal raid at that time, leaving his stepdad and many co-workers at risk for immigration detention.  

The teenager speaks English more fluently than anyone in his family, so he accompanied his mother to the scene. He later said that he thinks he saw his stepdad being taken into custody when a group of workers were loaded into a van by immigration officers. The boy tried to show officials documents he carried with him to prove that his family had already begun the process of seeking a status adjustment for his stepfather.  

Seeking asylum: What to expect

As someone who is traveling from a dangerous, politically unstable country to the United States, you'll be seeking asylum. Asylum is provided to people who have suffered persecution or who fear they will due to their political opinions, membership in a social group, nationality, race or religion.

Those who qualify for asylum may stay in the United States, but you must first apply and have your application accepted to avoid removal. You need to apply for asylum within one year of the date you arrive in the United States by using Form I-589.

Asylum application must be completed within a year of US arrival

Every year, tens of thousands of people arrive in the United States, hoping to find safe places to build better lives for themselves and their families. Many of them come to Louisiana or some other state in fear for their lives due to violence, persecution and poverty in their countries of origin. Some are being hunted by angry government officials who want to retaliate against them for their religious or political views. The U.S. government extends a helping hand to many immigrants in such circumstances through the asylum process. 

As with most immigration programs, there are eligibility requirements that must be fulfilled before asylum is granted. For instance, an immigrant must apply for this protected legal status within a year of his or her arrival in the United States. There are some exceptions that may apply due to extenuating circumstances, but the 1-year time frame is typical for most cases.  

Problematic issues in many immigration detention centers

Louisiana and most other states include residents whose immigration paperwork was not up to par when they entered the United States. Some undocumented immigrants have only just arrived, perhaps weeks, days or even hours ago. Others have been living here for decades. Some wind up behind bars in immigration detention centers.  

Immigrant advocates throughout the nation have been quite vocal regarding serious problems that appear rampant throughout such facilities. There have been numerous reports citing filthy conditions that place detainees' health at risk in many detention centers. In fact, some immigrants have reached out for support, saying their health was made worse when immigration officials denied them necessary medical care.  

US immigration law makes headlines following high court ruling

Many Louisiana families include one or more immigrants currently facing possible deportation. Some may have already been forced to say goodbye to family members who were deported following criminal convictionsin the United States. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch cast his vote in a recent decision that tipped the majority to hold that the U.S. immigration law regarding deportations against convicted criminals is unconstitutional because it is vaguely written.  

Immigrant advocates applauded the five to four ruling, calling it a major victory for immigrants nationwide. Those who opposed the decision say that striking down this law impedes the federal government's ability to keep U.S. residents safe from violent crimes. As with most topics pertaining to immigration, opinions on both sides of the issue often lead to zealous debates.  

Activists call foul play in immigration detention dispute

Many immigrant advocates in Louisiana and throughout the nation are speaking out regarding a recent situation that they say is evidence that the U.S. government is unfairly targeting certain groups of people for possible deportation. One man, who happens to be news reporter, was locked up in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in this state following another incident where he was arrested and then released after charges against him were dismissed. Instead of setting him free, his jailers handed him over to ICE officials, who then took him to an immigration detention facility in this state.  

The reporter recently published several stories regarding supposed unfair treatment against immigrants by ICE officials. He is not the first immigrant advocate who decried unfair practices of ICE, then was detained. Many believe the U.S. government is unjustly targeting certain groups of people to threaten them with deportation to keep them from advocating against ICE and also to make examples of them in the hope of deterring similar behavior in others down the line.  

Avoid asylum process obstacles in Louisiana

Not every Louisiana resident was born and raised in this state. Some arrived here from other states, seeking employment or wanting to purchase new homes. There are also many immigrants here, many of whom crossed United States borders as asylum seekers.  

If you have fled a country of origin to escape persecution, you no doubt hope that by requesting asylum, you will obtain refugee status that allows you to stay in the U.S. while avoiding the dangers that threatened your well-being in another place. In order for your asylum request to meet approval, you must show evidence that the persecution you feared is real. In some situations, the risk of persecution arises after a person has entered the United States, making it unsafe for him or her to return to a homeland. 

When immigration policies clash with our sense of justice

To be a so-called "Dreamer" is to be an undocumented immigrant who grew up in the United States after entering the United States illegally as a child. These cases happen when parents come into the United States without the proper documentation to enter legally with their children.

The undocumented status of "Dreamers" is a particularly poignant tragedy because, culturally, most of these individuals are Americans. Nevertheless, they are not legal citizens of the country, and technically under the law, they are not legally allowed to be here.

Change in immigration detention policy angers advocates

Immigrant advocates in Louisiana may be among others in the nation who recently expressed anger and frustration over the new ICE policies. The immigration detention situation has brought many immigrant advocates forward to say they believe recent changes are unfair to pregnant women. In the past three months, more than 500 expectant mothers have navigated the immigration detention process.  

In the past, women who are pregnant were usually released from detention to await their deportation hearings. Things are different now that policy changes have taken place. The government says too many pregnant women fail to show up for their hearings; therefore, ICE will no longer consider pregnancy reason to release detainees.  

Men say their immigration detention is unjust; they want U visas

Years ago, two men entered the United States from Mexico. Later, they were convicted of murder after confessing to the killings of two people. However, they adamantly claimed that their confessions were forced through physical abuse and torture from investigators. The situation took a drastic turn recently when, after spending years behind bars, the men were released from prison and hope to avoid deportation. Some Louisiana residents may currently be facing similar immigration detention issues.

A detective accused of physically abusing the two men testified under immunity that he has no recollection of the incidents they claim took place. The men have been in jail since the double murder occurred in 1998. They both said the detective physically beat them until they confessed to the crimes.

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