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DHS expands authority of immigration agents

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2017 | U.S. Immigration Law |

Although Maryland does not border any foreign countries, immigration agents working in the state will now have an increased ability to remove immigrants, according to memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security. People who cannot show that they have been in the U.S. for over two years could be automatically detained and sent back to their countries of origin. Previously, this authority had only been in place for agents operating in border states.

Another rule established by DHS ended exemptions for removable aliens that could have halted or delayed deportation. The only remaining protection from immediate removal applies to people who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Minors sent into the country on their own, however, will face increased scrutiny. The law allows for them to live with relatives within the United States while immigration authorities process their cases. According to new DHS guidelines, adults or parents who bring children into the country illegally could be charged with crimes or deported. Memos from the DHS Secretary say that many unaccompanied minors live with parents who are here illegally.

A person confronted by this shifting legal landscape could choose to work with an attorney when trying to achieve immigration goals. A lawyer could inform the person about U.S. immigration law and suggest strategies for attaining documentation to stay in the country or bring a relative into the country. An attorney could prepare a visa application, help the person gather documentation to establish legal status or guide the person through the process of becoming a citizen. When hearings with immigration authorities are necessary, an attorney could accompany a client and offer advice before the client responds to questions.