Often times in a criminal case, a plea offer that is beneficial for a U.S. Citizen is actually terrible for a foreign-born person, because the offer could have potentially disastrous immigration consequences. This is why it is imperative for criminal defense teams to have an immigration attorney on board anytime a foreign-born person faces criminal consequences. For example, although a plea involving supervised probation can be used as a way of avoiding active jail time, it can have the unintended consequence of placing a foreign-born defendant in removal proceedings.
In recent months in North Carolina’s Triangle Area, there has been a growing trend of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arresting individuals placed on supervised probation. ICE agents are arresting people at their probation meetings and, in some cases, at their homes. This has especially been the case for those who have been convicted of Driving While Impaired.
Once in ICE custody, these individuals are placed into removal proceedings and transported to the immigration detention centers in Atlanta and Lumpkin, Georgia. Oftentimes, these people do not have any form of immigration relief available and are forced to take a Voluntary Departure or Removal Order.
When people are detained by ICE in this circumstance, they are caught off guard and unprepared. Their families and loved ones are also shocked and frightened to find out they have been detained by immigration authorities. Also, oftentimes their families aren’t notified until the person has been moved out of the Triangle Area by ICE. People in this situation do not have the chance to prepare for the possibility of being removed from the United States. They aren’t afforded the opportunity to consult with an immigration attorney and get their financial and personal affairs in order.
It is imperative for criminal attorneys in the Triangle Area to understand the risks immigrants take when entering a plea that involves supervised probation. A plea that would be seen as a victory for a U.S. citizen can often have far-reaching immigration consequences for a foreign-born defendant, including removal from the United States.
Esteban Diaz is an Associate Attorney at Fayad Law’s immigration offices in Raleigh, NC.
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Fairfax, VA 22031