Federal Immigration Crimes Lawyer
United States is a nation built on immigration, some of which was achieved through the chains of slavery.
In 2013, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) reported that 41.3 million immigrants (28 percent of whom were Mexican-born) lived in the U.S.
The U.S. is the third most populous country in the world, representing 5 percent of the world’s population, and attracts 20 percent of international migration.
MPI reports that U.S. immigrants and U.S.-born immigrant children now constitute 80 million people – one quarter of the nation’s population.
Of the 54 million people in this country in 2013 who defined themselves as Hispanic or Latino origin, 35 percent of them were immigrants.
In Fiscal Year 2014, illegal immigrants constituted only 3.5 percent of the nation’s population, but represented 37 percent of all the federal sentences handed down.
In 2013, the Human Rights Watch reported that despite the staggering human costs, the U.S. government, through its Justice Department, has escalated criminal prosecution of immigrants who entered or reentered the country illegally.
The Bush and Obama administrations, particularly the latter, justified these soaring prosecutions as a way of keeping dangerous criminals out of the country.
Grace Meng, a U.S. Researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, said “the U.S. government is turning migrants into criminals by prosecuting many who could just be deported.”
The tragic result is that now 30 percent of the federal prison population is immigration offenders.
“For ten years now, I’ve been presiding over a process that destroys families every day and several times a day,” U.S. District Judge Robert Brack said in the report.
Immigration offenders spend an average of 19 months in jail.
The U.S. Government, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has joined the fight to remove as many non-U.S. residents as possible. ICE’s statistics for Fiscal Year 2015 bear this out:
- ICE removed 235,413 individuals
- 478 of the removed individuals were apprehended by ICE officers
- 91 percent of the removals had previously committed a crime
- ICE removed 165,935 removals of individuals apprehended at the border or ports of entry==of which 76,000 had previously been convicted of a crime
A growing number of people in the Hispanic and Latino communities are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the government’s “heavy handed” removal and deportation policies.
The Obama administration responded to this dissatisfaction by decreasing the number of removals and deportations in both Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 compared to Fiscal Year 2013 when record number of individuals were removed.
In November 2014, President Obama issued an executive order that would have allowed 4.7 million people, mostly the parents of undocumented children, to remain in the U.S. A federal judge promptly suspended the order, and the judge’s ruling was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last year.
Most people take U.S. citizenship for granted. They are born here, live here, and die here. However, since 9/11 and the rise of drug cartel violence in Mexico, immigrants, both lawful and unlawful, have become damaged goods to many Americans. This contributes to many unfair and unjust deportations, especially among lawful permanent residents removed for criminal convictions, some of which are years, even decades old, and are “petty” offenses.
The sheer number of “unjust” deportations of lawful permanent residents prompted the U.S Supreme Court to act.
In 2010, the court in the case of a Texas resident named Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo (“Carachuri”) significantly altered the way a lawful permanent resident may be deported under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). The INA permits the removal of a lawful permanent resident for a laundry list of reasons but the 10 most prevalent reasons are:
- An aggravated felony for immigration purposes.
- A crime involving moral turpitude (such as drunk driving or smoking marijuana).
- Aliens previously removed.
- Registering to Vote or Voted.
- Committing a Crime at a Port of Entry.
- A Mental Disorder or Behavior Associated with a Disorder that Poses a Threat to Safety.
- Admitting a crime at a Port of Entry.
- A drug Addict or Abuser.
- Serving on a Federal or State Jury.
- Money Launderers, Prostitutes, Terrorists or International Polygamists.
An “aggravated felony” is any offense in violation of Federal or State law. Federal law defines a “felony” whose maximum term of imprisonment is more than one year. These terms and their definitions are significant for a lawful permanent resident facing a deportation order because he/she can apply for a discretionary cancellation of the removal order so long as they were not convicted of an aggravated felony.
Carachuri was born in Mexico in 1978, came to the U.S. in 1983, and became a lawful permanent resident in the State of Texas where he has resided ever since. His common law wife, four children, his mother, and two sisters are American citizens. He faced a 2006 deportation order because he had been convicted of two misdemeanor drug possession offenses in Texas. The first conviction was in 2004 for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana for which he received 20 days in jail; and the second conviction was in 2005 for possession without a prescription of one Xanax tablet, a common antianxiety medication, for which he received 10 days in jail.
The second minor conviction prompted the Federal government to initiate deportation proceedings against Carachuri. He conceded he was eligible for deportation because of the two offenses but argued he was entitled to discretionary cancellation of the removal order under the INA.
The Government did not see it that way.
Government attorneys relied upon the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which criminalizes offenses like those involved in Carachuri’s misdemeanor drug possessions. Except for simple possession of crack cocaine or flunitrazepam, the Supreme Court noted that, under the CSA, “a first-time simple possession offense is a federal misdemeanor” with a maximum term of less than one year. However, a conviction for a simple possession offense “after a prior conviction under [the CSA or] under the law of any State … has become final” is a felony. That’s because the second conviction is a “recidivist simple possession” which can be punished as a felony with a prison sentence up to two years.
In effect, the Government tried to persuade the Supreme Court that a second “recidivist simple possession” conviction, which may be punished as a “felony,” could be categorized as an “aggravated felony” under the INA, even if it is not prosecuted as such.
The Court was not persuaded, saying a “second or subsequent simple possession offenses are not aggravated felonies under [the INA] when, as in this case, the state conviction is not based on the fact of a prior conviction.”
Immigration Crimes Demand an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
“Representing Businesses and Individuals Under Investigation or Charged with Serious Federal Immigration Crimes”
John Floyd is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has over twenty years experience representing businesses and individuals investigated or charged with serious immigration crimes. Mr. Floyd has successfully represented clients in both their corporate and individual capacities under investigation by FBI, ICE and Homeland Security for federal immigration crimes ranging from large scale corporate employment of undocumented aliens to serious cases of human trafficking and aggravated illegal re-entry.
Immigration Crimes Lawyer
The John T Floyd Law Firm is a high-end criminal defense law firm. We do not represent individuals attempting to immigrate to the U.S. or adjust their immigration status. We represent businesses and individuals under investigation or charged with federal crimes alleging violations of immigration laws.
Prosecution on Immigration Crimes Hits Record Highs
Federal prosecutions for federal immigration crimes has more than doubled over the last few years. While most of this increase is due to prosecutions for illegal reentry, many of these prosecutions have been the result of increased investigations on businesses that employ undocumented workers or on individuals who are alleged to have engaged in immigration fraud.
Multiple Federal Task Forces Dedicated to Human Trafficking
The Department has also announced the formation of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, a special prosecution unit within the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, a program to increase funding to local law enforcement agencies dedicated to investigating and prosecuting individuals believed to be involved in human trafficking, especially those individuals believed to be involved in trafficking women and children for the sex trade.
The Justice Department has made it a priority to aggressively prosecute immigration crimes.
Given the extremely hostile environment surrounding the politics of undocumented immigrants, if you are charged with an immigration crime, you need an experienced federal criminal attorney who not only understands this unique area of the law, but also has experience representing clients charged with immigration crimes before the federal courts.
Board Certified Texas criminal defense lawyer John T. Floyd has been dedicated to defending those accused of serious federal crimes, including immigration crimes, in all federal courts in Houston, throughout Texas and Nationwide for over twenty(20) years. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been rated as a Super Lawyer by the prestigious Thomson Reuters rating service. Mr. Floyd understands the personal toll these cases put not only on the individual charged but also family and friends of individuals targeted for prosecution of serious federal crimes.
Expert Immigration Crimes Attorney Can Help
There are many crimes that are classified as immigration crimes. Even minor acts, such as encouraging an alien to come to, or remain in, the U.S. illegally, carry the potential punishment of federal prison time. Employing illegal aliens can be a very serious offense, leading to years in federal prison if convicted, especially if it involves a significant number of undocumented workers.
Alien smuggling. If you know that a person is an alien and try to bring them into the U.S. anywhere other than a designated port of entry (or other place designated by the Commissioner), you are committing an illegal act. This is true whether or not that alien has received official permission to come to, enter, or reside in the U.S., and regardless of any future official actions that may be taken with that alien.
In other words, if you help someone come here in a way that is not strictly authorized by law, you can be charged with a federal immigration crime. Penalties include a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years. Prison time is increased according to the number of people being smuggled and can also be increased if there are injuries (20 years) or deaths (up to life).
Domestic transporting. It is a federal crime to bring someone into the United States without following proper legal procedures. It is also a federal criminal offense to help them remain inside the United States or transport them around the country. Penalties include a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. If a driver was moving the alien for personal gain, prison time can reach 10 years, and if someone is injured or dies during the transportation prison time jumps a possible 20 years in federal prison, or, in some cases, Life.
Harboring. When an individual acts with knowledge that an alien is in the U.S. illegally and does anything to help them remain inside the U.S. or hide them from law enforcement officials, he has potentially committed the federal offense of harboring an undocumented alien. This offense can be alleged whether an individual uses a building or vehicle to hide the individual. Penalties include a fine and federal imprisonment of up to five years, or both. That potential range of punishment jumps to 10 years, if financial gain is involved, 20 years if someone is injured due to the crime, and a possibility of life if anyone dies.
Encouraging/inducing. As mentioned above, it is a criminal offense to simply encourage someone to come to the United States illegally. Penalties include a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. That jumps to 10 years if financial gain is involved, 20 years if someone is injured due to the crime, and a possibility of life if anyone dies.
Conspiracy/Aiding or Abetting. Even if you are not directly involved in the physical act of helping someone come to the U.S. or stay here illegally, it is a crime to help someone else in the commission of those offenses or do any act which furthers an offense. Penalties include a fine, imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both. That jumps to 20 years if someone is injured due to the crime, and a possibility of life if anyone dies.
Bringing Aliens to the United States. It is a federal offense to to physically assist an alien in his or her attempt to illegally enter the United States. Penalties include a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. The maximum range of imprisonment jumps to 10 years if financial gain is involved, 20 years if someone is injured due to the crime, and a possibility of life if anyone dies.
Hiring Illegal Aliens. While is in common knowledge that is illegal to hire undocumented workers, it has been common practice for businesses, including large national corporations, since the founding of the country. The law is not as clearly understood as it should be because there are two parts. The first part of the law states that it is illegal to hire, recruit, or refer for a fee any unauthorized alien in the U.S. The second part is about aliens who were originally hired legally but become illegal after a status change.
Even if you hire an alien legally, if they become an unauthorized alien, you are required to terminate their employment immediately. Typically, the penalty is a fine of $10,000 per employee. Those who show a pattern of abuse may face up to six months in jail. And if you employ 10 or more undocumented workers in a given year, it may become a harboring charge, which brings with it a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
Illegal entry, marriage, or establishing a business to evade immigration laws. This law details criminal offenses relating to (1) improper entry into the United States by an alien, (2) marrying for the purpose of evading immigration laws (which we will cover in more detail later), and (3) establishing a commercial enterprise to evade immigration laws. Penalties for improper entry include a fine, imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
Illegal reentry. If an alien has previously been excluded, deported, or removed, it is now a separate criminal offense for that individual to attempt to reenter the U.S. unless they have gotten prior written consent from the Attorney General. Penalties include fines, imprisonment of up to two years, or both.
Deportation after a Criminal Conviction
The maximum term of imprisonment for illegal reentry jumps up to 10 years if the alien in question was removed after being convicted of three or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against the person, or both, or for a single felony conviction (other than an aggravated felony, which has a maximum 20-year term in prison).
Prohibited sexual activities with aliens. There are three kinds of sexual activities that are prohibited with respect to aliens: (1) importing aliens for prostitution, (2) holding aliens for prostitution, and (3) keeping, maintaining, controlling, supporting, employing, or harboring aliens for prostitution. Each of the three is a separate crime, and an individual can be found guilty even if only “pursuing” such acts and even if the acts have not actually been completed. Penalties include a fine, imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.
Refusal to depart. Any alien who willfully refuses or otherwise fails to leave the United States within 90 days of a final administrative or judicial order of removal is in violation of the law. Likewise, it is an offense to (1) fail to apply for departure travel documents in a timely manner, (2) engage in an action designed to prevent an alien’s departure, or (3) willfully refuse or fail to appear for removal. Penalties include fines, imprisonment for up to four years, or both. If deportation is occurring due to criminal convictions or security-related concerned, enhanced penalties may apply.
Fleeing or evading a checkpoint. Fleeing or evading a checkpoint operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service or any other Federal law enforcement agency and speeding to escape Federal, State, or local law enforcement officers is considered an immigration crime. Penalties include a fine, imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
Marriage fraud. If you knowingly marry someone so that you or they can evade immigration laws, it is a crime that can be punished by a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Problems can even occur when the married couple decides not to live together as man and wife but remain legally married under state laws so the alien is able to become a permanent legal resident of the United States. This is a prosecutable offense, and under current law, the “family unit” needs to remain intact for two years after the alien spouse initially applies for permanent resident status.
Don’t Take Immigration Crimes Lightly – Work with a Texas Criminal Attorney Familiar with Immigration Crimes and the Federal Criminal Courts
Being convicted of an immigration crime can do a lot more than cost you money and put you behind bars – it can destroy your reputation, uproot your entire life and reap havoc upon the lives of your family members. It is a sad sight to see individuals and their families, who many times have never visited their “homeland” or speak the language, incarcerated and forced to move back to a country they fled, often due to violence or lack of economic opportunity. In his career as a criminal defense lawyer representing individuals accused of immigration crimes, John T. Floyd has seen this again and again, and there is never a silver lining. Mr. Floyd is committed to zealous advocacy and giving every effort to prevent the often unforeseen consequences of immigration crimes.
The bottom line is this: if you are charged with an immigration crime, it is imperative that you work with a defense attorney who not only understands criminal law, but also sees the potential implications of immigration law and knows when to call in an immigration lawyer when necessary to aid his clients. Mr. Floyd is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has twenty years experience represented individuals facing charges before the Federal criminal courts. Mr. Floyd is not only experienced in providing high quality representation to individual facing serious charges in federal court, he is also a well-respected lawyer who has been frequently featured as an expert in criminal law.
Start building the best possible defense today by reaching out to our offices. You can get in contact by filling out our confidential case review form, emailing email@example.com, or calling 713-224-0101.