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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.

Since that time, the man repeatedly and successfully renewed his green card in the ensuing 11 years, and he had no further issues with arrests. However, on June 4, 2018, he was suddenly arrested while leaving his house to go to work. Since that time, he has been held in immigration detention. The man is not alone; one green card holder is facing deportation based on marijuana charges that are 22 years old.

Immigrants who are concerned about criminal justice issues and how they affect their presence in the United States may wish to work with an immigration lawyer. An attorney may be able to help green card holders and other immigrants protect their rights and work to stay in the country.

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