5th Circuit finds most of Texas’s anti-sanctuary law constitutional and enforceable

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that most of Texas’s law banning “sanctuary city” activity can be enforced. Sanctuary cities and states are those that have decided not to comply with certain federal immigration priorities in order to foster positive relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities. For example, among a number of provisions, California prohibits law enforcement from holding immigrants for possible deportation.

Texas passed a law banning municipalities from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration detainer and deportation policies. Officials who refuse to do so risk removal from office and possible prosecution. The law also authorizes law enforcement in inquire about immigration status during routine police interactions.

Advocates: Immigration arrests at courthouses scare people away from law, justice

Civil rights and other advocacy groups want courthouses added to the list of sensitive locations where immigration enforcement would generally be avoided. A petition recently filed in Massachusetts seeks a writ of protection blocking ICE from civil immigration arrests at courthouses.

The petition cites incidents in which immigrants have been too afraid to come forward with important legal business. For example, one woman has been too afraid to renew a restraining order against her husband because she fears deportation.

ICE has adopted a formal policy allowing it to make arrests in courthouses and considers that policy “wholly consistent with longstanding law enforcement practices nationwide.” Courthouse arrests did occur during the Obama administration but have been much more common under Trump.

Board of Immigration Appeals broadens list of deportable offenses

Are state drug felonies deportable offenses? The answer just became “yes” more often than it had been in the past. In a recent case before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the court said that aggravated-felony-level state drug convictions make immigrant defendants removable and ineligible for cancellation of removal.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the immigrant in the case was found removable after a conviction for an aggravated felony in New Jersey. In the past when determining removability, immigration courts have considered whether state crimes would be an aggravated felony under the Controlled Substances Act.

A recent BIA case expanded on that, finding that judges can consider more than the section of the Controlled Substances Act that is most similar to the state law. Instead, they may consider whether the underlying behavior would constitute an aggravated felony under the Controlled Substances Act.

If you are an immigrant and are unsure of your rights, you should contact an immigration attorney at Yew Immigration Law Group. All consultations are confidential.