A huge percentage of immigrants who live in the Los Angeles area illegally live in constant fear of being discovered by authorities and forced to leave the country. For those that are trying to avoid getting into trouble with the law, they may do anything they can to stay out of trouble, including listening to advice from authorities that may not always be 100 percent accurate.
This was the case for one immigrant who was put into the custody of Border Patrol agents after he was pulled over for a broken license-plate light on his vehicle. The man entered the country 10 years ago with a tourist visa, but never left. According to the man, agents recommended that he leave the country voluntarily to avoid trouble. They did not inform him that because he is married to a U.S. citizen, that he could have sought legal status. Instead, he is unable to enter the country again for a decade under the terms of his voluntary departure.
This man’s case and cases like it are the basis for a lawsuit filed against the federal government by the American Civil Liberties Union in Los Angeles recently. They would like authorities to be required to give immigrants full disclosure regarding their options and explain what will happen if they agree to leave the U.S. voluntarily. The lawsuit names seven immigrants who claim that they were misled into voluntarily leaving the country.
If you or a loved one faces the threat of deportation, it is important that you speak with a lawyer before agreeing or signing anything. An immigration attorney can help explain your options and may be able to work toward obtaining legal status for you or your loved one.
Source: ABC News, “Lawsuit Challenges US Deportation Procedures,” Elliot Spagat, June 5, 2013