Last week we talked about the seemingly-strange situation where a military veteran is deported from the country. It happens all the time, even though the individual’s service to the country gives them the impression that they are now in the U.S. for good.
It is a murky area perpetuated by poor, outdated immigration laws blend together with other poor, outdated immigration laws that make the whole immigration system a confusing mess. Until legitimate reform is brought to the U.S. immigration system, undocumented individuals (and even people seemingly marked as permanent residents) will never truly know what their legal status means.
An example of this is Padilla v. Kentucky, a U.S. Supreme Court case from 2010. The ruling actually ended up in favor of immigrants — the ruling said that if an immigrant faced criminal charges, his or her lawyer was required to inform their client that the case could affect their immigration status, no matter what that status may be.
However, the ruling is so vague that many lawyers do not know what to tell immigration clients. Do you have to spell out every possible negative implication to the client’s immigration status? Or can the warning be a simple five-second statement? What about after the case is over — if it goes poorly and the person is convicted of their crime, can the defendant claim ineffective counsel if their lawyer did not give them a detailed warning?
And so it goes, even a positive ruling for immigrants ends up adding more confusion to their legal situation. One of the major problems with Padilla v. Kentucky is that many immigrants turn to a criminal defense lawyer when they are faced with a criminal charge, a logical move. But the problem here is that most criminal defense lawyers are ill-equipped to handle a case that delves into immigration law, and indeed they may not even know immigration law.
That’s why it is best for undocumented or resident immigrants to consult with an immigration lawyer for any possible legal trouble. There are myriad ways a criminal case can affect you, many of them unexpected. Having that legal advice in your corner can greatly bolster your case and give you the confidence that you are being properly represented.
Source: Fronteras, “Immigration Consequences Of Criminal Convictions,” Jude Joffe-Block, Nov. 5, 2012
- To learn more about the intricacies of immigration law, please visit our Los Angeles immigration page.