Immigration Prosecutions Account For Nearly Half Federal Caseload; Immigration Reform Approaching

Immigration Prosecutions Account For Nearly Half Federal Caseload; Immigration Reform Approaching Banner Image

The sweeping bipartisan plan to reform the country’s immigration system passed the Senate subcommittee drafting it on Tuesday and is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote.  This move sets the stage for what most likely will be a major debate on the Senate floor next month over the details and policies of comprehensive immigration reform.

The main focus of this legislation is the 13-year path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people in this country without any legal status.  This part of the bill remained intact while more conservative amendments were added to help pass the committee, such as tougher border security measures.

The bill provides for a pathway to citizenship for people who came into this country illegally or overstayed visas as long as they entered before December 2011.  Applicants must get provisional status, show viable income, pay back taxes, fees, fines and learn English.  After 10 years of this, they can gain permanent legal status and apply for U.S. citizenship in 13 years.  This process is cut in half for agricultural workers who commit to jobs in the fields and adults who were brought to this country as minors but serve in the military or attend college.

This is only the first hurdle in the passage of immigration reform and we are yet to see what changes or other modifications are made or proposed in the full Senate hearings and if/when it gets to the House floor.

In related news, immigration-related offenses are now the leading type of federal prosecution, accounting for more than 40% of the cases on the federal docket.  The majority of these prosecutions consist of illegal reentry arrests which occur when someone is caught attempting to cross the border illegally after they have been deported on a prior crossing.

Until about 10 years ago, most people prosecuted for immigration violations had criminal convictions for violent crimes of firearms offenses.  The federal government has increasingly prosecuted those people now with either minor criminal histories or no criminal history at all.  The result of this is that a misdemeanor conviction for illegal entry is now enough to land someone felony charges if they are caught trying to reenter the country on another occasion.

Illegal entry is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.  Illegal reentry has a maximum sentence of two years with the possibility of additional custody time depending on prior criminal convictions.

You might be asking what all of this means to you.  If you or someone that you know is currently facing deportation proceedings, illegal entry or reentry proceedings, removal proceedings or naturalization issues, it is important that you have an experienced attorney handle these matters for you.  Not having an attorney who knows the correct procedure and strategy may not only hurt your current case results but may also prevent you from acquiring legal status down the line.  Contact attorney Ross Erlich today if you have any immigration-related questions or are currently involved in immigration proceedings/prosecution for a free consultation.  Attorney Ross Erlich serves Orange county, Los Angeles county, Ventura county and Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, North Hollywood, Hollywood, Burbank, San Fernando Valley and Pasadena.