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Nashville Legal Blog

Trump administration seeks to detain families longer

Immigrant families in Tennessee may be concerned about reports that the Trump administration plans to avoid a longstanding agreement in federal courts that oversees the treatment of children in immigration detention. The administration said in September 2018 that it plans to detain families for longer periods of time in an attempt to deter undocumented migrants from crossing the southern border. New proposed regulations from the Department of Homeland Security eliminate the existing Flores agreement, which mandates that children should be held in the least restrictive setting.

The agreement also mandates the release of children within 20 days after their initial immigration detention. However, in the summer of 2018, one federal judge rejected a request by the government to allow families to be held for longer periods. The change will likely lead to a new lawsuit over the 1997 case that created the initial agreement. When the administration announced its so-called "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border, its treatment of immigrant children became particularly controversial.

New proposed regulations seek to circumvent Flores settlement

New regulations proposed by the Trump administration seek to lengthen the amount of time the government can detain migrant children beyond the current standards set in the 1997 Flores settlement. The settlement, stemming from Reno v. Flores (1993), limits detention of migrant children to 20 days and sets out standards for facilities used to house children.

The new proposed rule titled “Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children” would effectively replace the Flores settlement as a new federal rule for managing the detention and treatment of migrant children. The new rule entered the Federal Register September 6 and now waits in a 60-day period of open comment before full implementation can begin.

Legal permanent residents targeted for deportation

Legal immigrants in Tennessee with green cards may be concerned about reports of the Trump administration's immigration crackdown. While many people think that only undocumented immigrants are being arrested and slated for deportation, even legal immigrants and green card holders are being targeted for potential deportation on the basis of old criminal convictions. Further actions from the administration could threaten permanent residents who have used transit subsidies, Medicaid and other forms of social assistance.

Every year, around 1 million green cards are issued, and there are approximately 20 million green card holders who live in the United States. While a green card means permanent residency, multiple cases have emerged in which a legal immigrant is accused of an old criminal conviction, detained or even deported. In one case, a man from the Philippines received his green card and has lived in the United States legally since 1988. In 2007, he was arrested on drug and firearm possession charges, but he was only convicted of illegal possession of an airsoft pistol, an imitation firearm that fires plastic pellets rather than bullets. He received a sentence of probation.

Do Non-Citizens have Constitutional Rights?

There is a misconception that the U.S. Constitution applies only to U.S. citizens. Some passages and phrases in our laws explicitly state only "citizens" are afforded certain rights, such as the right to vote. When the terms "resident" or "person" is used instead of citizen, the rights and privileges afforded are extended to protect citizens and non-citizens alike. Moreover, protections under the 14th Amendment ensure that no particular group is discriminated against unlawfully.

ACLU accuses immigration agencies of setting traps

Immigration has become a hot button issue in Tennessee and the rest of the country. Now the American Civil Liberties Union is claiming that federal immigration agencies are coordinating efforts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to facilitate deportations of individuals seeking citizenship through marriage. According to documents related to a class-action lawsuit being filed by the ACLU, officials are setting "traps" that violate the constitutional rights of immigrants attempting to become legal citizens.

An ICE spokesman has called allegations of inappropriate coordination between various Department of Homeland Security agencies "unfounded." The ACLU claims that immigration regulations established by the previous administration are still in effect. These rules allow immigrants with spouses who are U.S. citizens to remain in the United States while they go through the process of getting their green card.

ICE No Longer Prioritizes Who They Try to Deport

Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") no longer prioritizes who they go after when seeking the removal of a non-citizen from the United States. Previously, there had been levels of priority, establishing a system that tried to ensure the limited and valuable government resources available were used to target criminals and terrorists first, before going after long-time undocumented immigrants with family ties and no criminal history. That is no longer the case.

30 Days Jail Time for DUI when Child in Car

Tennessee DUI laws provide mandatory minimum sentences, and sentence enhancement factors, for those who are convicted. A DUI first offense carries a minimum sentence of 48 hours in jail and a $350.00 fine, among other things. This minimum sentence however can be increased in several ways. For example, if your blood alcohol level is 0.20% or higher, the minimum sentence is raised to 7 days, even on a first offense. For those charged with DUI with a minor in the vehicle, the minimum jail time is substantially increased to 30 days. Read on to understand the different sentence enhancements and criminal charges that can be brought against you.

ICE Agents Cannot Execute Search Warrants at Your Home

Under federal law, certain Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers cannot execute search warrants. They also cannot enter your residence to serve an arrest warrant. So what do you do if ICE is outside your door? To understand your options, you need to know a little history about the agency.

Due Process for Undocumented Immigrants

Due process allows an individual in the federal sphere to exercise his or her legal rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution and laws enacted by Congress. In immigration court, it allows one to contest the proposed deportation by appearing before a judge.

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