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How one minor offense can change the life of an immigrant

Imagine for a moment that you are driving home from a friend's house late at night. You see the red and blue lights of a police car flashing in your rear view and pull over. After approaching your car, the officer notes that there are empty beer bottles in the backseat. What do you expect might happen?

Most people would wind up with an arrest and the possibility of a criminal conviction. However, if you are an immigrant in Texas or any other state in the U.S., the penalties could be far more severe. You could wind up being deported.

Deportation is a very real threat for immigrants who are in this country without proper permission. This includes children brought here by their parents, students who have overstayed their visa and parents who entered the U.S. without authorization to escaped persecution in their own country.

For years, federal agents were instructed to limit deportation efforts to people convicted of serious crimes like fraud, assault or theft.

However, under the Trump administration, efforts to deport immigrants have been ramping up. Even in cases where a person would be eligible for release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are ordering ICE holds to keep immigrants detained.

This controversial practice was recently ordered when a young man with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status was detained after a traffic stop similar to the one we described at the beginning of this post. He is now facing the possibility of deportation.

While these incidents involving DACA recipients are somewhat uncommon, federal agencies and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made statements reiterating the fact that any immigrant who is in the U.S. unlawfully can be at risk for deportation. ICE officials have even ordered officers to take action against any removable immigrant, even if the person is not accused of a crime.

Considering how volatile the issue of immigration and criminal activity is and how high the stakes are for anyone facing deportation, it is crucial for immigrants who are detained and/or accused of a crime in Texas to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Avoiding conviction under these circumstances can be especially critical.

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