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Immigration arrests illegal immigrants in south florida

Posted on March 01, 2011 3:00 AM EST

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 19 people who are now sitting in federal custody. The sweep targeted illegal immigrants with criminal convictions for drug trafficking, sex crimes and violent offenses. The individuals will be held in federal custody until the removal proceedings are completed. All those detained have the right to be retained by a Miami criminal defense attorney. Unlike criminal court, detainees will not be appointed a criminal lawyer from the public defender's office. However, theses individual can privately retain counsel in an effort to get a bond pending the removal proceedings. Keep in mind that federal judges will seldom grant this kind of relief at a bond hearing.

The best way to fight an immigration detainer is to attack the criminal case which most likely arose in state court. Illegal immigrants are deported for serious crimes such as armed robbery and sexual battery, but an individual charged with a minor felony offense, such as cocaine possession can be deported. Even misdemeanor offenses such as possession of drug paraphernalia or two marijuana possession offenses can result in deportation. Also know that federal immigration law does not differentiate between a conviction or a withhold of adjudication. The only way to successfully lift an immigration detainer and prevent deportation is by filing and winning a motion for post-conviction relief.

Motions for post conviction-relief can be based on many grounds. The goal of these types of motions is to have a formerly entered into plea vacated or set aside. Always remember, even if a plea is vacated or set aside, the case is just re-opened and then set for trial. The ultimate goal after a plea is vacated is to have it dismissed or nolle prossed by the prosecutor. Two documents are required to be presented to a federal judge in order to prevent deportation. First, an order vacating the plea signed by a circuit or county court judge must be presented. The order must state that the original plea was taken in violation of the defendants rights, either because the proper procedure was not followed, the defendant's constitutional rights were violated or the criminal defense lawyer representing the defendant was found to be ineffective.

An example of a procedural violation includes incomplete plea colloquys where a defendant is not advised of his or her right to be represented by an attorney or not advised of the right to take the case to trial. These are also examples of constitutional violations that can lead to a successful motion for post-conviction relief. Ineffective assistance of counsel can come in many forms, but failing to advise a client of possible deportation or providing affirmative mis-advice regarding the immigration consequences of entering a plea can be sufficient grounds to vacate a plea. Note that recent appellate courts in the State of Florida have held that even if a defendant was not advised by the attorney of immigration consequences or was provided affirmative misadvise, the judge can cure the problem simply by inquiring during the plea colloquy if a defendant understands that by entering into a plea could subject them to immigration consequences such as deportation. Anyone facing deportation for prior criminal acts should seek the advise of both an immigration and criminal defense lawyer in an effort to resolve the problem.

South Florida Immigration Sweep Nets 24 Arrests, Miami Herald.com, February 26, 2011.