Drug Conviction causing arrest and detention by Immigration at the Monmouth County Jail

By now, it is almost becoming routine for individuals in New York and New Jersey with drug related arrests and/or convictions to be detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Monmouth County Jail located at 1 Waterworks Road, Freehold, NJ 07728. Something tells me that the street name (“Waterworks Road”) may not entirely be a coincidence. If you have a loved one being detained there by ICE or DHS, you know exactly what I’m
talking about. It’s enough to bring anyone to tears. The last time I was there to visit a client, it actually took me close to an hour to locate my client. The warden and the deputies could not locate my client by name, nor could the ICE representative. Now, I asked myself, if I had such a difficult time just locating my client’s whereabouts, how helpless do the family members of the immigrant feel? Needless to say, I did not give up. I knew my client was being detained there and I was not going to allow anyone to tell me he was not there, especially when I drove all the way down from New York City. After much persistence, we were able to locate my client. This did teach me a valuable lesson about persistence. There are times when you feel like giving up, but things that are really valuable are never easy to achieve or gain.

In any event, let me continue with my story. I finally found my client, who by the way was scheduled to appear at the Immigration Court in New York City located at 201 Varick Street, New York, NY. I sat down and spoke with him at length and reminded him that his family and friends were very concerned and had hired me on his behalf. My client turned out to be a very charming and intelligent individual who happened to have gotten himself into trouble in the 1990’s. He had been arrested and convicted
of various drug related convictions. You may have heard that drug convictions in the immigration and deportation context is likely one of the worst types of convictions for immigration purposes. Rarely will you find anyone, including the Judge, that would be sympathetic to your case. What made this case worse was that there were actually drug related convictions that my client did not even remember which came to light after we appeared in Court. With that many serious convictions, the Court took the position that my client could not be released on bond and was subject to mandatory detention. Well, we did certainly argued that he was eligible for bond. Most importantly however, we never stopped fighting and moving forward. We reached out to the Department of Homeland Security lawyer (DHS) and attempted to convince them to consider dismissing or terminating the deportation case due to major equities in my clients case, including his full rehabilitation and strong family ties in the United States. We were delighted when we heard from DHS who informed us that they would consider a request to terminate the deportation case. The morale of the story is that you have to keep fighting even against hope and all odds.


Immigration Jail in Newark, New Jersey (Essex County Jail)

During my last blog, I wrote about how a New York City resident can be held in the Essex County Jail in Newark , New Jersey even though the person resides in New York City. Perhaps, he has a criminal record or maybe he entered the U.S. illegally or violated his status.

I want to take some time to now discuss what happens and what can be done about it. For example, where and when will he appear before an Immigration Judge? Will the Immigration Court be in New York City? Will that Immigration Court be in Newark, New Jersey? . . . in Elizabeth, New Jersey? In addition, what will determine whether he can be released from Immigration detention? How much bond will be
required? Can the loved one get out at all? Well, if the Department of Homeland Security, the Deportation Officer, or any other branch of the DHS refuse to release him, then the recourse is to request bond by filing the appropriate paperwork. In addition, it is very important to remember that hiring a lawyer immediately has many benefits. Did you know that Immigration could drag their feet and delay the case by not presenting the case in front of an Immigration Judge? Yes . . . this happens quite often. Also, did you know that in some cases Immigration (DHS) can also move your loved one across the country without letting you know about it? All of a sudden, your loved one who lived in New York City and was held by Immigration in New Jersey is transported to Florida or Texas. This happens all too often. What can your lawyer do about it? The first thing you lawyer should do is to stop Immigration from being able to move your loved one elsewhere. But,
you lawyer will need to act fast without any unnecessary delay. Then, the lawyer should try to obtain his release.

Let me tell you something, I have been to the Jail in New Jersey where Immigration detainees are held. Let me assure you, as bad as it may be, it is nowhere near as bad as other places your loved one can end up. Stop Immigration from treating unfair treatment. If you lived in New York City your entire life and have family here, the person should not be moved thousands of miles away and cause unnecessary
separation. But, remember, the law is not entirely unfair. There are provisions in the law that one can utilize to help them attempt to gain release from detention. If you are unfamiliar with them, find an attorney who can help you. You will likely have one chance to do that.

Often times, people tell me that they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. The truth is that a person can’t afford not to hire a lawyer. Undoing something that was done wrong is much more difficult and will surely cost more. Hiring a lawyer may not always achieve the result you are looking for, but at least you will have a fair shot. Never forget, Immigration always has lawyers in Court representing them, so should you.


Arrested by Immigration in New York City

So, after many years of being in the United States, a family or close friends has been arrested by immigration, also known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

You now find out that the person has been brought to federal plaza and then the person’s whereabouts become unknown. Tracking the detention facility where the person is held can sometimes be a challenge. For example, it is quite normal that a person arrested in New York is sent to the Essex County Jail in Newark, New Jersey.

What can you do if this happens to a family member? Well, you have to act fast in order to minimize the strain and mental anguish suffered by both the person arrested, as well as the family members or friends. Let’s face it, when a person is arrested or detained by immigration, it affects everyone. In the case of a family unit, the arrest by immigration will certainly affect the spouse and the children. These can be in the form of emotional distress as well as financial hardships. All too often I have clients that contact me to tell me their spouse who is the only working family member has been arrested by immigration. In these types of cases, you have to be quick to act by trying to get the person released. You will have to try to convince immigration or a judge that the person should be released. This may be a traumatic experience for you but the decisions you make early on may impact the case permanently. You have rights! Know them and use them!

Does this sound familiar to you?
I probably get about 2-3 phone calls per day about these types of issues. The reasons for denial range from people not showing up for their immigration interview in New York City or Long Island, to denials based on marriage interviews and denials of employment based cases. One of the first things I tell clients is that they need to make sure that they know exactly why their case was denied. All too often, people are unaware of why exactly their case was denied. I’ll give you an example. Today, I just met with a young gentleman who called me just yesterday. On the telephone, he told me that his case was denied because Immigration did not believe their marriage was real. Not surprisingly, his English was not perfect. So, I immediately informed him that I would need to see the denial and did not necessarily want to take his word for it. I encouraged him to come to our New York office for a free consultation.

Well . . . today I met with this gentleman and looked at his Immigration denial. I was not surprised that the denial was not exactly as the gentleman understood it to be. In fact, the denial was based on the wife not showing up to a second interview. So, I informed him that all was not lost and that there could be something we can do. I explained that we could re-file his case. He then informed me that his wife would not help him because she has been very abusive towards him. This abuse took many forms, including emotional, mental, financial and physical abuse. When I heard what this gentleman had to suffer during his marriage, I was shocked. I then explained to him that there was a special law that would allow an abused spouse to self-petition for a green card without the cooperation or assistance of the U.S. citizen spouse. He was very surprised to hear that.

The point I am trying to make is that never assume facts based on what someone tells you. As a lawyer, we have an obligation and a duty to conduct our own investigation into facts and try to find out exactly what is going on. Had this gentleman not went to see a lawyer, it is possible that he would be never have
known his rights.


My green card application was denied in New York City . . . What can I do?

Does this sound familiar to you?

I probably get about 2-3 phone calls per day about these types of issues. The reasons for denial range from people not showing up for their immigration interview in New York City or Long Island, to denials based on marriage interviews and denials of employment based cases.

One of the first things I tell clients is that they need to make sure that they know exactly why their case was denied. All too often, people are unaware of why exactly their case was denied. I’ll give you an example. Today, I just met with a young gentleman who called me just yesterday. On the telephone, he told me that his case was denied because Immigration did not believe their marriage was real. Not surprisingly, his English was not perfect. So, I immediately informed him that I would need to see the denial and did not necessarily want to take his word for it. I encouraged him to come to our New York office for a free consultation.

Well . . . today I met with this gentleman and looked at his Immigration denial. I was not surprised that the denial was not exactly as the gentleman understood it to be. In fact, the denial was based on the wife not showing up to a second interview. So, I informed him that all was not lost and that there could be something we can do. I explained that we could re-file his case. He then informed me that his wife would not help him because she has been very abusive towards him. This abuse took many forms, including emotional, mental, financial and physical abuse. When I heard what this gentleman had to suffer during his marriage, I was shocked. I then explained to him that there was a special law that would allow an abused spouse to self-petition for a green card without the cooperation or assistance of the U.S. citizen spouse. He was very surprised to hear that.

The point I am trying to make is that never assume facts based on what someone tells you. As a lawyer, we have an obligation and a duty to conduct our own investigation into facts and try to find out exactly what is going on. Had this gentleman not went to see a lawyer, it is possible that he would be never have known his rights.


Filing for Asylum from Uzbekistan or Tajikistan in New York

In the past few months, many young men and women have contacted my office to tell me that they are from Uzbekistan or Tajikistan and have been living in New York City since they left their home countries. They tell me they are now curious about whether they could file for asylum while in New York City because they are
afraid to go back to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. Many of these young men and women entered the U.S. through a J1 visa (Work and Travel). Due to the instability of their countries and persecution they would face if they returned to their home country, these individuals have inquired about whether they would now be eligible to file for asylum.

After speaking with them at length about why they would be afraid to go back to their country, whether it be Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, they educated me about how their lives and beliefs have been shaped while in the United States. Never before having had any freedom to express their beliefs or opinions, or for that matter
never having been exposed to an environment where they would be able to critique the ruling government, they now feel that if they were to go back to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, they could not simply remain silent or complacent with the present political structure and severe restriction of fundamental human rights that is ever-present in those countries.

When I initially began hearing about these experiences, I began to wonder about these issues and how it could be part of an asylum case. After giving it some additional thought and discussing these issues with other colleagues, I have become convinced that these young minds have surely been shaped by their experiences in the United States. As a result of their current beliefs and activities, they now seem to have a legitimate fear of persecution based on their beliefs.

Surely there are many issues to deal with when it comes to filing for asylum,  especially if the application is not filed within one year of entering the Unite States. However, as with everything else in life, there are always exceptions to the general rule. As an attorney, we are trained to take nothing at face value. Our duty is to our client and advocating the client’s position and claim is our number one priority. Life is never that simple, so it is rare that a client ever walks into our office and has a slam dunk case. So, these young men and women do have a valid claim.

It is experiences like these which remind me of how fortunate we are in the United States where we can openly criticize our government without fear of reprisals.


My marriage case (I-130) was denied in New York City. What can I do?

If your marriage based petition was denied, then you have your work cut out for you.

The first thing you should do (if you haven’t done it already) is get yourself an experienced immigration lawyer and have the lawyer fight on your behalf. You will need an experienced immigration lawyer, not just any lawyer. I mean experienced! How do you know whether a lawyer is experienced? Use your common sense. Ask the lawyer how long the lawyer has been practicing immigration law. The truth is the only way to gain experience is through time. It’s like anything else. Skill and experience only develops through time. However, keep in mind that the amount of years a lawyer has been practicing law does not always mean that the more the lawyer has been practicing law, the more experienced the lawyer is. The length of time is just one factor. Another element is a winning track record. Also, look into whether the lawyer is experienced enough that the lawyer actually lectures and teaches other lawyers about the practice of law. There are so many factors you need to take into account. However, I have learned that the single most important element in making sure you have a great lawyer on your side is how the lawyer treats the client. If you feel that the lawyer doesn’t really care about your case, mistreats you or speaks down to you, then you may want to speak with another lawyer.

I am personally involved with each of my clients’ cases. I truly care. I know how important immigration issues are for my clients. There are lives at stake. I have been practicing law for over 11 years and have represented thousands of clients. Yes, thousands. So, it is only natural that you gain plenty of experience with the passage of time and representation of so many clients. The truth is that I continue to learn every single day. I also lecture and teach other lawyers in the practice of immigration law. However, the single most important lesson is that people deserve to be treated with kindness and caring. I ask myself, how would I want to be treated? That is how I treat my clients.

Okay, let’s get back to the topic at hand. After you have hired an experienced lawyer, what should you expect? Well, it is very likely that if your I-130 (marriage based petition) has been denied, you will be placed in deportation or commonly known as removal proceedings or Immigration Court. This may be a stressful time in your life, but do not panic. Immigration makes mistakes all the time. You know that they made a mistake with your case by denying it. You just need someone to get Immigration to see that they made a mistake. I’ll give you an example. Just recently, clients came to my office to tell me that their marriage based case was denied and that Immigration does not believe that their marriage is real. Guess what? They have two children together and Immigration still denied their case because during the interview the couple was unable to provide similar answers to questions. This sounds so stupid, but it is reality. Many Immigration decisions do not make sense. However, when these things happen, you need a lawyer to show Immigration how dumb their decision is. This is the job of your lawyer.

Your lawyer should now take control and let Immigration know that it made the wrong decision.


Immigration Court in Federal Plaza New York City

There are many ways for an individual to end up in Immigration Court.  This blog will explore just a few common ways in which an “alien” can find oneself in Immigration Court and practical information about the Immigration Court in New York City.

1.         Immigration Court referral from Asylum Application: One way in which you may be sent to the Immigration Court is if you filed for asylum.  If the asylum office does not approve your asylum application and you are out of status, typically the asylum office will provide you with a “Notice to Appear” requiring you to appear in Immigration Court.  You may then continue with your asylum application with an Immigration Judge.

2.         Green Card (“Adjustment of Status”) application is denied: Another way that you may be sent to the Immigration Court is if an application for a green card or adjustment of status (as it is also called) is denied.  This is very common with a marriage case in which Immigration (“DHS”) denies the green card application based on marriage.  When Immigration (“DHS”) denies these types of cases, they commonly serve a “Notice to Appear” commanding you to appear in Immigration Court.

3.         Arrest or Detention by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”): A third way could be through an arrest or detention by Immigration (I.C.E.).  In many cases, Immigration may arrest or detain an individual because he or she may be out of status.  In these types of cases, the individual is processed by Immigration and may either be released without bond, released by posting bond with Immigration or sent to the Immigration Court for a bond re-determination.  Then, the cases will usually end up with the Immigration Court through the service of a “Notice to Appear”.

4.         Where is the Immigration Court in New York City?: The Immigration Court in New York City is located at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278, which is in downtown Manhattan.  The Immigration Court is situated on the 12th Floor, Room 1237.  However, Courtrooms are located both on the 12th Floor and the 14th Floor.

5.         How do I know which Courtroom or Judge my Case is assigned to?: On the 12th Floor, there is a master list of all names and cases scheduled for that day.  Look up your name and you will see who the assigned Immigration Judge is.  Once you know who the Judge is, you will be able to tell which courtroom you need to go to.  If you don’t see your name, ask the clerk at the window located in Room 1237.

6.         Do I need a lawyer for Immigration Court in Federal Plaza, New York City?:  No and Yes.  What do I mean?  You are not required to have a lawyer, but in my professional opinion, you will unlikely be able to represent yourself effectively without an experienced Immigration Lawyer who appears regularly in Immigration Court in Federal Plaza.  Immigration law is very complicated and confusing and you should be represented by someone who not only is experienced in immigration law, but also by someone who knows the local procedure there.