Attorney General William Barr handed down two new decisions that will substantially limit the options immigrants have to fight deportation orders.
Barr used the “certification" power the Attorney General to pass decisions that eliminate the path for immigrants with old criminal convictions to stop deportation and make multiple drinking and driving convictions a reason to deny legal immigration status.
Because the immigration court is part of the executive branch and actually belongs to the Department of Justice, the attorney general is the top judge and has the power to choose cases from the Board of Immigration Appeals for “certification.” Once a case has been reviewed by the Attorney General, they can set binding rulings regarding how the law should be interpreted. Through the “certification" power of the Attorney General, the Trump administration has been able to substantially change the immigration system without writing new laws or regulations.
According to Rose Cahn of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, "This is one tactic out of many that we are seeing the federal government use to make life for immigrants as unpleasant as possible."
Barr’s decisions focus on immigrants with criminal convictions. The first concluded that if an immigrant has two or more DUI conditions, then they are disqualified from having “good moral character." However, the decision doesn’t make a clear distinction between misdemeanor and felony DUIs.
In his decision, Barr wrote that while DUI convictions require the person to go to alcohol-safety programs and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to get sober, “they do not themselves demonstrate good moral character.”
Barr’s second decision hinders the ability of state courts to influence the federal deportation process by adjusting old low-level criminal sentences. Some states, like New York and California, have laws that prevent deportation orders for low-level crimes. But Barr’s decision limits the types of modifications that will count in immigration court when a person is trying to avoid deportation.
What Are My Options to Avoid Deportation?
Although Barr’s decisions significantly narrow the path to fight deportation, immigrants can still request a governor's pardon for old crimes, but this process can take months and rarely succeeds. If you are facing deportation, you need to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to review all of your options. At Kanu & Associates, P.C. we are committed to serving immigrants throughout Phoenix, and we will guide you through the entire legal process to ensure your rights are fully protected.
Call (602) 353-7795 today to set up a case evaluation with a member of our law firm.