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Immigration snags illegal foreign nationals

Posted on December 14, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began another round of nabbing immigrants with criminal records with the intent to deport them to their home nations. The most recent operation netted 93 foreign nationals who were illegally living in the United States. The basis for the apprehensions were prior criminal convictions for a wide variety of crimes. ICE vowed to continue the operations to catch illegal immigrants with prior criminal records. Anyone who is not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident who has a prior criminal record should contact a Miami post-conviction relief attorney to file a motion to vacate and then seek a nolle pros or dismissal of the charges to prevent an inevitable deportation.

Examples of people caught up in the recent dragnet include the following: a 23 year-old citizen of Ecuador with a criminal conviction for felony battery, a 20 year-old citizen of Guatemala with convictions for driving while license suspended, and a 36 year-old from Guatemala convicted of burglary and attempted burglary. Immigration authorities reported the operations are conducted to catch illegal immigrants with criminal convictions for offenses like drug trafficking, sex offenses and violent crimes. The most recent operation resulted in the arrest of 84 men and 9 women from 22 countries. Arrests were made in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Duval Counties. All of the individuals arrested are currently being held in federal custody awaiting deportation or removal proceedings.

While some illegal immigrants are arrested for relatively minor offenses such as marijuana possession and petit theft, others are arrested for more serious crimes such as armed robbery and burglary. Anyone facing deportation should speak with an immigration attorney to create a strategy to avoid removal. The federal courts may issue a waiver for certain criminal offenses. For example marijuana possession can be waived, but a second conviction for the same crime cannot be waived. In many cases, a marijuana possession conviction is accompanies by a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia. In this instance, the marijuana charge can be waived, but the paraphernalia count cannot be waived and therefore a motion to vacate must be filed on the client's behalf.

If an offense cannot be waived, a motion for post-conviction relief must be filed with the court. Many of the motions are time barred after two years, so it is imperative to handle these matters as soon as possible. Although a case may be time barred, an effective criminal defense attorney on many occasions can still have a plea vacated and the charges dropped in exchange for a charitable contribution or can even have a client enrolled in the pre-trial diversion program. After the completion of the program the charges will be dismissed. In sum, all immigration cases are different and there are many approaches that can be taken to avoid removal or deportation. Anyone subject to removal or deportation should seek the advice of counsel as soon as possible as the problem will not go away by itself.

Criminal Immigrants Rounded Up Across Florida, News-Press.com, December 14, 2010.