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Immigration and customs enforcement makes nearly 600 arrests

Posted on May 03, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Throughout the southeastern United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made almost 600 arrests. Federal and local law enforcement agencies arrested hundreds of criminal aliens as part of Operation Cross Check. The operation was the largest undertaken under this type of law enforcement action. The majority of individuals arrested were taken into custody in Florida and Puerto Rico. ICE broke down the arrests by county and number. Miami-Dade County led the way with 48 arrests. Other counties where individuals were detained included Lee County, 14 arrests; Collier County, 5 arrests; Broward County, 24 arrests; Monroe County, 5 arrests, Palm Beach County, 11 arrest; Hillsborough County, 10, arrests; and Orange County, 25 arrests. Individuals were taken into custody for prior convictions ranging from sexual battery to marijuana possession. If you or someone you know was taken into custody for immigration reasons, immediately contact a Miami criminal law firm to address the problem.

Most people taken into immigration custody will seek the advice of an immigration attorney. However, to solve the problem, the previous conviction or convictions that are causing the immigration detention must be vacated and dismissed by the prosecuting authority. A criminal lawyer with experience in vacating pleas will have the ability to set aside a previous conviction or withhold of adjudication. Know that immigration authorities do not distinguish between a conviction or a withhold of adjudication. Bear in mind that even if a successful motion for post-conviction relief is filed, the case is not automatically dismissed. In fact, when a judgement and sentence is vacated, the case is re-opened from where it left off and still needs to be defended. Once a case has been vacated and the charges dismissed, only then can an immigration attorney appear in federal immigration court to secure a person's release.

Operation Cross Check should act as a lesson. If you are a not a U.S. citizen and have a past criminal record seek out a lawyer who handles post-conviction relief matters at the earliest possible time. It is much easier to file a motion to vacate and have the charges dismissed when a person is not being held in immigration custody. Most judges will require defendants to appear in court to resolve these types of matters. An individual in immigration custody will be at a disadvantage because he or she can not appear in court. Another lesson to be learned is that defendants should not enter pleas out of convenience. Immigration authorities do not care whether or not you served jail time, received probation or even the easiest plea of credit time served. The only thing that concerns immigration authorities is the charge to which an individual took a plea.

Prior to 9/11, individuals were only deported for major crimes such as armed robbery, burglaries, aggravated assault and batteries and the like. Under the current state of the law, a conviction for drug paraphernalia such as a marijuana or cocaine pipe can get someone deported. In fact two convictions for simple marijuana will allow for deportation. While the Supreme Court of Florida diluted the rules for vacating convictions, the Supreme Court of the United States recently handed down law to help non-citizens avoid deportation. If an experienced lawyer can show that a criminal attorney did not warn their clients that deportation can result as part of taking the plea, the judgement and sentence can be vacated.

Nearly 600 Criminal Aliens Arrested in Nationwide Sting, MarcoNews.com, April 30, 2010.