Over 10,000 Illegals have been Deported from L.A. County Jails

By Michael J. Gurfinkel Esq.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that more than 10,000 illegal aliens have already faced deportation/removal after their arrest for various crimes and interview by Los Angeles County Jail officials on their immigration status.

Sheriff officials have been trained by the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to screen inmates to determine whether they are illegal or have been previously ordered deported. Some of the questions that inmates are being asked include “Where were you born? [to determine if they are foreign-born] Have you ever been deported? Did you know that a judge had ordered you to leave the country?”. In addition, local law enforcement agencies have access to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases, running name checks and determining if an inmate is in the country illegally, has a previous order of deportation/removal against him, or is even a green card holder with a crime that makes him subject to deportation/removal.

Sheriff officials say that the screening of inmates helps free up jail beds, and makes sure that illegal immigrants who commit crimes or who are in the U.S. illegally, are actually deported, and are not released back into the community. Sheriff officials estimate that at least 3,100 inmates presently in custody are probably eligible for deportation/removal either because they are illegal immigrants or because their criminal records have invalidated their green cards. (Certain crimes can make even a green card holder subject to deportation/removal.)

I know that Filipinos are honest and law abiding, but this development could also have severe consequences on them. Let us say a person came to the U.S. many years ago and applied for political asylum in order to get a work authorization. They did not go to their court hearing because they were afraid, and the judge ordered them deported in absentia (in their absence). Many years later, they marry, have children, and have established their life in the U.S. Sometimes, a person gets into a heated argument with his wife, and neighbors call the police. The person could be arrested and taken to the county jail, where he undergoes screening and if it is determined that the person has an old deportation order on their record, that person could be turned over to ICE and sent back to the Philippines. The husband may have been the bread-winner of the family, and now the wife and children have to struggle as to how they are going to pay the mortgage or rent, education for the children, and other bills, because the husband has been sent home.

So, you can see that even minor incidents, whether it’s a domestic dispute, drunk driving, or two men trying to prove who was more macho and getting into a fight, could have very serious immigration consequences.

The same could be true even if the person is a green card holder and is arrested for certain crimes. That is because even green card holders can be deported if they commit certain types of crimes.

That is why it is so important that if you are in the U.S. illegally, you seek the advice of a reputable attorney who could perhaps advise you of legitimate ways to legalize your status. Or, if you are an immigrant who committed certain crimes, it is very important that your criminal case be handled properly, so it does not involve drastic immigration consequences.

But the bottom line is to obey the laws and don’t get arrested, because you may find yourself back in the Philippines “for life.”

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